Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thoughts On The Donald Sterling Case

TigerBlog is not here to defend Donald Sterling.

Far from it. The guy is a freak.

By now you know what Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, had to say on the subject of race relations. The recording has been everywhere, and it's gotten him banned from the NBA for life in a move in which new NBA commissioner Adam Silver screamed "there's a new sheriff in town."

Silver handled the situation perfectly, flawlessly. His waited until he had the facts, and then he acted swiftly and decisively. It was great leadership.

TigerBlog doesn't have an issue with how Sterling's been treated. Not in the least.

He sees it as an interesting societal commentary though.

So again, everyone repeat this: TB is not defending Donald Sterling.

And he's not 100% sure he understands who is who in this drama. Is the woman who recorded his girlfriend? And what's up with the wife, who is vowing to keep control of the franchise?

What's interesting is that a man with a long record of racially divisive actions as it relates to housing Southern California was ultimately done in by words, words that he said in private.

Are you no longer able to speak privately? Is there no such thing anymore?

If ever there has been an easy villain, it's Sterling. His an old white billionaire who clearly has a screw or two loose.

TigerBlog wonders how many of the people who jumped all over Sterling did so in a "look at how offended I am by this; doesn't this make me enlightened" way would want all of their private conversations to suddenly become public, to have everything that they've said that they thought they thought no one would ever hear be everywhere.

Is it possible that Donald Sterling is the only NBA owner or pro sports owner who ever privately said anything that would destroy his/her career? TB can't believe that's the case.

How can it be, with primarily white billionaires who employ primarily black multimillionaires. TB can't begin to image what these billionaires have said in private.

Sterling of course had to go. He had to go a long time ago, with his mismanagement of the franchise and his obvious disregard for fair housing practices. What's truly stunning is that he was supposed to receive an award from the NAACP, right?

And in every case like this, TB worries about penalizing people for their words, rather than their actions. Who decides when the line has been crossed? Who is in charge of saying "okay, that's a bit offensive but that's over the top offensive, so you're okay and you're not."

So what does this have to do with Princeton Athletics?

As always, whenever a story like this breaks, TB looks at it from his perspective in Jadwin Gym and wonders what would be the worst case scenario for Princeton and especially its coaches and athletes.

First of all, TigerBlog always tells the teams he speaks to that they have to think that everything they tweet or put on FaceBook or write someplace or so in public will be read by all of the following people: their coaches, their teammates, their opponents, refs, friends, parents, the admissions director at the graduate school of their choice, the person interviewing them for their dream job - all of them.

And they have to understand that putting the wrong thing out there in that situation can have a big impact on their futures, even if they don't intend it to be offensive.

Even beyond that, he tells them that it used to be that to get in trouble for saying something stupid, you had to have someone to say it to and that person had to be in a position to reproduce it for a mass audience. Now you can do it all by yourself with your phone, tablet, laptop or anything else.

But next year, he's going to add something for them to consider, and that is the fact that there is no more privacy.

Never, ever assume that what you say isn't being recorded. Or that you're on video.

It's hard for Donald Sterling to deny he said these things, even if he didn't know he was being recorded. And once they're out there, they're out there.

It's a scary thought. Your privacy continues to disappear.

TigerBlog has always said that he hopes that the day never comes when a Princeton coach or athlete is caught up in the middle of one of these "gotcha" moments.

As technology advances and privacy dwindles, he gets less and less confident that that day will never arrive.

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