But someone has to be blamed! Who? Who?!?! I’ll say the owners and front office deserve most of the blame. Clearly, the players aren’t going to criticize the bosses, but I think that’s who deserves it. Now, as I go into this, I realize the Rays gave away 20,000 tickets to last night’s game, but it needed to happen earlier. Not doing so on such a scale was being unrealistic. Essentially, they said they preferred having an empty stadium to giving away most of the tickets and losing revenue they weren’t getting anyway. If they weren’t going to be sold anyway, then what did you have to lose? I commend the front office/ownership for finally realizing it because I don’t think anyone else has, but teams need to learn to be more proactive. Imagine if this was more common. 10-20,000 more fans coming in the gate a night. You weren’t going to get their ticket money anyway, so you’re not missing out on that. But now, you’ve got them trapped in the stadium. Everything else is gravy—the concessions, merchandise sales, future ticket sales from new fans, etc.—and it’s more than you would receive if they weren’t there. Additionally, you have more fans at the game to cheer, make a ruckus, and make your players happier. Additionally, the fans actually have some goodwill toward a team that seemingly needs it (and some teams really need it. Imagine if Pittsburgh did this). If the fans get in there and see the team more often, the time invested may result in money invested. I realize this could have some negative effects (if you give away tickets, then what’s the incentive to buy (hint: only do it at certain times), for instance?), but I think the potential for growth is much greater. And if the city finally buys in (and realizes how awful that stadium is), maybe they’ll be more acquiescent to doling out some tax money for a new stadium. But again, I have to give the Rays’ ownership credit—at least they finally figured it out. Most other teams seem to live in denial, thinking someone will walk through that door with some money. With all of the emphasis on intangibles, people seem to see the business side through accounting eyes. (Side note: I can’t wait for an economics person to tell me I’m wrong, though I imagine I’m nowhere near the first to mention this idea)
Okay, so we cleared that up, but what about Price’s outburst and subsequent apology? I think it’s time for these apologies to stop. It was cute when it started and meant more, but now, it’s just reflex. No one means it anymore (see Portis, Clinton), and it’s become cliché. People just apologize, our collective conscience is assuaged, and the offender still feels no real remorse for his/her transgression, only regret that it backfired. In Price’s case, I think it’s fairly easy to see where he (and Longoria) is coming from, and his apology is absolutely unnecessary. He’s being open and honest, and I would prefer that more athletes were that way. Letting them speak, whether it’s flawed or not, allows us to see what we need to work on, whether it’s our actions or the thoughts and perceptions the athletes or we have. Forcing apologies glosses over an excellent learning opportunity. Let’s use that Clinton Portis situation as an example.
The Jets made some comments about a female reporter in a male locker room, and Portis essentially agreed. That led to a ridiculous back-and-forth with journalists the next day in which Albert Haynesworth put tape on Portis’ mouth after Portis “apologized”. Superficially, Portis made amends, but does anyone think he really feels bad about this? I seriously doubt it, but forcing his apology demeaned the situation and made it into a joke, which probably cements this as an issue to which Portis feels he doesn’t need to pay attention. It wasn’t. Instead, we should have taken note of a few things. One, there is still quite a bit of chauvinism in sports, and someone really needs to speak to these gentlemen about gender equality. Two, these players have obviously gotten this idea from somewhere. Where did they get it, and does it represent a larger societal problem? Do we, as a society, still have a problem with gender equality? Instead of blaming players, maybe we need look elsewhere while explaining (this part is key—it has to be explained) and correcting his behavior. It’s easy to point at the guy doing the action, but if we’ve learned anything from sabermetrics, it’s that we need to look deeper. Now, this doesn’t mean this is specifically your fault. We’ve talked about structural racism before, but it may have been better to label it structural discrimination. Those same themes apply here, but the context has changed to gender history instead of racial. We’ve largely moved past gender discrimination, but it still exists (anyone note the subconscious “his/her”. Why does “his” come first? “Her” is first alphabetically.). Yes, the perpetrator deserves some blame because gender equality is a very prevalent idea, but you have to wonder why he chose to ignore it.
Of course, Price’s “transgression” wasn’t quite so bad, but he still “offended” some people. Sure, it wasn’t the smartest thing to say, but it was also heartfelt. If it was heartfelt, there’s a reason he said it. If he’s wrong, then it needs to be explained to him that it was wrong. But we’re all learning here, and he’s still really young as a human being. Young people make mistakes, but we have to be careful how we criticize them. Improper punishment will make them less likely to grow as people, not taking risks and never learning from succeeding or failing. Maybe Price doesn’t really understand the ramifications of the economic recession, and now, it can be explained to him. If he hadn’t said anything, he may never understand, never learn because the wrong idea remained buried. Sometimes, an apology is called for, and if it is, go for it. Other times, it’s not, and the public embarrassment only forces the person deeper in his shell. If he stays there, we’ll never see the cracks beneath. We need to do this because we all have some cracks, and someday, we’ll need someone else to be understanding.