Sunday, November 6, 2011

#OccupySports: A Call for Action

The Occupy Movement has taken form in cities large and small across the country.  The focus is on taking action against corporate greed and making fundamental changes to reduce the wealth gap in this country.  Whatever side of the issue you are on politically, you have read about it and it appears likely there will be some form of change.

I will stay away from the left wing-right wing  debate of Occupy, but am going to steal the phrase and concept to start my own movement.  It's so cleverly titled Occupy Sports.  (For you tweeters out there, we will start the twitter handle, #OccupySports).

Two events in the sports world that took place this weekend are the impetus behind the movement.

First, the egregious and disgusting grand jury report that came out of Happy Valley.  I will allow the judicial process to play out, but the accusations made against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky are about as vile and repulsive as I've ever read.  That is not hyperbole, either.  Using a position of power to pray on vulnerable kids is beyond pathetic, it's inhumane.

The only thing worse is knowing about the situation and then doing nothing.  NOTHING.  That's what some members of the Penn State administration did when they were made aware that Sandusky, who also was a leader of a local charitable foundation for kids, was allegedly raping and sexually assaulting boys who were looking to him for guidance.

Not only do these university officials and staff members need to be removed from their positions immediately, but they need to spend significant time behind bars.

That includes Joe Paterno.  The all-time winningest coach in FBS history is at fault, make no mistake about it.  He has not been charged with any crime, but it's hard to defend the minimal action he took in reporting the incident after he was made aware of the situation.

Paterno is said to have told PSU Athletic Director Tim Curley about an incident when a grad assistant allegedly saw Sandusky raping a 10-year-old in a locker room shower.

Joe Paterno is the face of the university.  He runs Happy Valley.  While he may have technically done the right thing and reported the incident to his boss, if he really was concerned, he would have gone straight to the police and  gotten to the bottom of the issue, immediately.  Instead, he pawned the responsibility off on someone else, who also had no moral compass, and nothing was done.  Sandusky continued his horrific actions and more lives were ruined even when the chance to stop them was so clear.

Inaction is the ultimate crime.  Joe Pa, the PSU Administration, and obviously Sandusky should all be punished.  Severely.

A call for action is necessary.


The second incident behind the movement is the comments made by Tiger Woods' former caddie Steve Williams.  During a ritzy dinner event attended by golf's elite, Williams said of being on Adam Scott's bag when he won the WGC Bridgestone Invitational not long after Woods fired him, that he wanted to "shove it right up that black a**."

The comment is inappropriate and uncalled for, but Williams has proven in the past he is not in any way, shape, or form a man of high character.  He speaks before he thinks and never are the words positive or insightful.

Williams is an idiot. I'm not giving him a pass, I just don't expect anything better out of him.

The real issue here is the PGA pulling a Joe Paterno and not taking necessary, immediate action and booting Williams from the tour.  There is no place for these types of comments in sports, especially one where the number of African American participants on the professional level can be counted on a single hand.

Taking steps to remove Williams would obviously bring more attention to the issue and likely dig up old skeletons of golf's racially insensitive past.  Turning a blind eye to it is an easier route and PGA officials are just sweeping it under the rug, hoping the controversy will go away.

Tiger Woods' transgressions and poor performances on the golf course allow the PGA to do this because he is not the revered player he was three years ago. 

That doesn't make it right. 

Tiger brought more attention to the sport than any player ever.  He is still the biggest draw in the game and not acknowledging and defending the impact he had on golf is naive.

But, it's easier and doesn't challenge what is a broken status quo, which the PGA clearly is fine with, even if it's detrimental to the sport and society.


Both these incidents point to an alarming trend of higher ups in sports worried more about their reputations and keeping life comfortable for them than doing what is right.

The lives of young boys were derailed because PSU sat on its hands, hoping the problems would go away.  The PGA is doing the same and is further alienating a group of people who is still trying to break into the golf community.

If actions aren't done to take a stand against inaction then we will continue to see incidents like these.  

Sports in a very real sense are a microcosm of our society.  The lessons learned on the court and playing field often translate to those in the home and office.

To not demand greater responsibility from those at the top will result in a continuation of deplorable acts and comments.  We as fans need to call for change, because those who can make it now are proving they are not capable or willing to do so.


No comments:

Post a Comment