Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Racism in our own backyard

With all the discussion about the racist taunting of Adam Jones at Fenway on Monday, a few people reminded us that we have comparable assholes in our midst. Jones got similar treatment at the wild card game last year. The question was raised about how we can do better.

First, what will MLB do? Rob Manfred issued this:
“The racist words and actions directed at Adam Jones at Fenway Park last night are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated at any of our ballparks. My office has been in contact with the Red Sox, and the club has made it clear that they will not tolerate this inexcusable behavior. Our 30 clubs will continue to work with fans and security to provide a family-friendly environment.  Any individual who behaves in such offensive fashion will be immediately removed from the ballpark and subject to further action. 
“The behavior of these few ignorant individuals does not reflect the millions of great baseball fans who attend our games.”
MLB players association executive director Tony Clark added this:
"It should go without saying that the type of behavior displayed toward Adam Jones at Fenway Park last night is reprehensible, unacceptable, unfortunate, and should not be tolerated on any level. Sadly, however, racist acts and behavior continue to plague our society, and our ballparks are not immune. We must continue to work together to deter this type of behavior and get serious about educating people about its deleterious impact. Until we take more of a leadership position in this conversation, these racist acts may blemish the image of the sport and further undermine all that we can accomplish."
Will this lead to MLB-wide policies? Buster Olney is advocating that types of abusive speech should be spelled out and lead to immediate ejection. The question becomes, is there more we can do to ensure no player has to hear this stuff in the first place?

For those who think that's taking all the fun out of heckling, Adam Jones draws the line.
“Boo me, tell me I suck, that’s what I want. I don’t need any special treatment. I don’t want no love. No support. Treat me as normal. Enjoy yourself. Have a couple of pops. Just keep the racist stuff out of there.” 
Shannon Sharpe at Fox News goes into more detail about what is acceptable and what is not:
That would just be like me getting in my car and I get pulled over for a speeding ticket, and I tell the police officer, ‘Hell, I bought this car, I can go as fast as I want to.’ No, you can’t.
Just because you buy a seat doesn’t mean you get to say, doesn’t mean you get to do anything that you want to because of that seat.
So I open up the floor to you. Should we be looking at bans, is there education that can be done, is there a solution I haven't even thought of? Do we extend to cover homophobic language as well? (For me personally, I'd love to see someone tossed for calling a player a "pussy" - which is a thing of beauty, strength, pleasure, and power so why is it an insult? - but I know for a lot of you that's a bridge too far and a whole other discussion.)

We may not be able to end racism in the larger world but together we can make the game a respite from it.

PS: If you hadn't seen it yet, there's this great comic from The Oatmeal talking about the Backfire Effect.