The (now fired) Mike Rice/Rutgers scandal is undeniably terrible and offensive, but the Melissa McCarthy SNL parody featured on last week’s show is undeniably awesome. McCarthy plays (and nails) Sheila Kelly, the ridiculously abusive women’s basketball coach at “Division III Middle Delaware State”, who is being profiled on ESPN’s investigative Outside The Lines.
The National Basketball Association (or NBA for shortsies) announced Thursday (12/8) that, as part of their collective bargaining agreement, they are planning to adopt a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. To boil the jargon down, the new policy’s umbrella will specifically include protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation (which does not, however, include gender identity or gender expression). The policy effectively only covers men (gay or bisexual men in the NBA), since no women (gay, straight, or in between) play in the NBA, but this is marked on a human rights level – there exists no legal protections for LGBT employees on a federal level, so private employers have the ability (but not the requirement) to adopt policies that protect said employees from workplace discrimination.
This is fairly HUGE for the NBA to be a part of, as the organization is inherently part of a greater theater of homophobia that exists in professional sports. The National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) opted to include sexual orientation in their respective non-discrimination policies earlier this year as well. Baby steps, but hell, this is progress that is notable. I should also note that several current (and the current part is oh so important) professional athletes have publicly voiced their support of LGBT equality, including the NHL’s Sean Avery (which is probably wildly surprising for some, and not at all for those of you who know he interned in the fashion industry), NFL players Brendon Ayanbadejo and Scott Fujita (and former-NFL-player-now-commentator Michael Strahan), and current NBA point guard extraordinaire Steve Nash. Watch Nash’s video promoting the now-enacted marriage equality law in New York State:
Oregon State freshman defensive tackle Fred Thompson, 19, collapsed and passed away Wednesday evening (12/7) while playing basketball at a recreation center on campus. Reports are now coming out that it is likely Thompson suffered a cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) that in this case led to death. The 6-foot-4, 317-pound DT had no known heart conditions. Thompson’s 20th birthday would have been this Sunday.
Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine are still in the news, for absolutely awful reasons. Sandusky was arrested again Wednesday (12/7) and charged with 12 additional counts of child sexual abuse (involving two new alleged victims). Sandusky is now facing more than 50 charges, and yet he was able to post bail (which was only $250,000) on Thursday (12/8). The charges against this man (monster) are HEINOUS, and yet he is able to return home. There is something wrong with this, and it legitimately makes me see red.
Onto Bernie Fine, there is also something so wrong with this – Bernie Fine can’t be charged with child molestation (despite credible accusers) because the statute of limitations has passed. Onondaga County Dist. Atty. William Fitzpatrick said this week that had he learned of Bobby Davis and Mike Lang’s (both step-brothers and former Syracuse ball boys) sexual abuse accusations in 2005, Fine would have been arrested and charged with child molestation.
“Bobby, I’m sorry it took so long,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick also harshly criticized ESPN and the Syracuse Post-Standard for not turning over a tape recording accuser Bobby Davis had given the news outlets (in which Fine’s wife admits to Davis that she knew what her husband had done to Davis) to the police. Meanwhile, ESPN is still backpedaling as to why they held onto the tape for eight years without doing a damn thing.
Jerry Sandusky is likely going to rot in prison and have hell to pay abuse-wise when he gets there (prisoners are not kind to child molesters). Bernie Fine is likely going to get away with sexual abuse of children. This is fucking ugly, and this is fucking wrong.
Wow, are the Philadelphia Eagles imploding or what? I could also say the same about the Washington Capitals. Rough night for two struggling teams that should be playing a lot better than they are.
Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning (who is sorely missed this season by the 0-11 Colts) has been cleared for more intense rehabilitative workouts. Manning’s doctor, Dr. Robert Watkins, said Manning’s neck has, for all intents and purposes (unless those intents and purposes currently include full-speed pro football), healed.
“X-ray and CT examination of the surgical area shows that the fusion performed in September has achieved firm fixation. Peyton will now be allowed to increase the intensity and breadth of his workouts as tolerated. There remains every indication that his recovery will continue,” Watkins said.
Manning, 35, hasn’t practiced since a September 8 spinal fusion, which was meant to repair a damaged nerve in the quarterback’s neck, which affected his throwing arm. Manning has had three neck surgeries in 19 months.
As alluded to above, the Manning-less Colts have broken team streaks of success established in recent years – throw nine straight playoff appearances and nine consecutive 10-win seasons out the door. The Colts, currently in line to pick up Stanford QB Andrew Luck in the first round of the NFL Draft, are 0-11 for the first time in 25 years. Damn.
Indiana state high school basketball stand-out Austin Hatch will not be on the basketball court this season. Hatch was involved in a plane crash that killed his father and step-mother, in which Hatch sustained a head injury, a punctured lung, broken ribs, and a broken collarbone. Hatch’s father was flying the plane at the time of the crash. The 6-foot-6 junior had made an early commitment to play for the University of Michigan in 2013. His family has reported that Hatch’s rehabilitation is going very well, but that he needs time and requests privacy in his recovery. The tragedy was the second plane crash that Hatch survived, the first in 2003, during which Hatch’s mother and two siblings were killed. Hatch’s father was flying the plane in the 2003 crash as well.
After years of respect and loyalty to ESPN, I have some major issues connected to the way the network and its commentators & writers have handled the Bernie Fine case juxtaposed against the coverage and scrutiny of dismissed Penn State coach Joe Paterno (in connection to the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case). On November 4, the Jerry Sandusky grand jury report was released, and the media (but I’m honing in on ESPN) was whipped into a feeding frenzy involving Joe Paterno’s role in the scandal. A slew of ESPN commentators wrote op-eds and went on-air to vehemently and publicly voice their disapproval of Joe Paterno, saying he failed in his moral obligations, that he just didn’t do enough.
As the Sandusky storm was (briefly) coming off a coverage peak, another child-molestation-accusation-at-a-major-university story broke. (Now former) Syracuse men’s basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine allegedly molested team ball boys over the course of several years. Fine was fired on Sunday (11/27), after ESPN released a recorded phone conversation between first accuser Bobby Davis, and Fine’s wife, Laurie Fine, during which Laure Fine admits to Davis that she was aware of the molestation and/or abuse Davis is now accusing her husband of.
In a letter published by USA Today, chancellor Nancy Cantor writes “Mr. Davis didn’t give [the audiotape] to us in 2005, nor did the media, which have acknowledged having it since 2003. Had that tape surfaced in 2003, Fine would have been fired. Had we been given the tape in 2005, we would have gone straight to the authorities.”
ESPN has stated that they did not release the tape when they received it because they could not get anyone to corroborate the story, and they weren’t sure that the female voice in the recording was actually Laurie Fine. The network did not go any further until LAST WEEK, when they turned to a voice-recognition expert to confirm whether the female voice was in fact Laurie Fine (it was).
But for eight years, no one that heard the tape did ANYTHING with it. The network held onto damning evidence for eight years. Yes, there is an argument for the role of the “objective journalist”, that the journalist is obligated to stay out of the story itself. But journalists are also human. And this is not black and white. This is grey. And this had to do with sexualized crimes against children. Why didn’t anyone at ESPN share the recording with police or Syracuse officials?
ESPN commentators were vicious in their scrutiny of Joe Paterno, rightfully so or not. The problem is that the network was guilty of the same thing it was damning Paterno for. Except that Paterno actually did report the alleged abuse to his superior (which he was legally obligated to do). ESPN just didn’t do anything.
The Penn State (Jerry Sandusky) and Syracuse (Bernie Fine) situations are not the same, but I cannot ignore or stay silent about the incredible hypocrisy displayed by ESPN in its coverage and handling of both, especially because the network is now directly tied to the Fine firing. Failed moral obligation by those that preach it. It’s depressing as hell. And mostly because the victims have to suffer more, and longer, because of those moral failings.