Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Z_CNHI News Service

May 13, 2014

Public apologies the newest addition to the playbook

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”

― Benjamin Franklin

I’ve wondered what it must be like to be a priest and listen to people reveal their sins and ask for forgiveness. Confession, they say, is good for the heart.

In the last week or so it seems as if every press conference or interview contains someone's apology. Athletes and those who own teams have tripped over themselves making foolish remarks, then trying to clean them up with clumsy excuses or insincere explanations.

Donald Sterling, billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, used his own words to disgrace himself and now hopes the public will excuse his racist comments, captured on tape, as a “terrible mistake.”

Sterling's hope is that an 80-year-old man who spent much of his adult life running a professional basketball team is entitled to be forgiven for a momentary lapse. Does anyone seriously believe it was his first mistake? If it was, embarrassing the NBA, his team, players and the family's reputation was a whopper.

Perhaps Sterling should take comfort in knowing that he has plenty of company.

Comments by two athletes in response to the St. Louis Rams’ selection of Missouri lineman Michael Sam in the seventh round of the NFL draft created a firestorm.

Fans across the country were watching to see which team, if any, would select Sam, the first openly gay player expected to be drafted.

The Miami Dolphins' Don Jones, a defensive back, tweeted the word “horrible” after Sam was taken with the 249th pick of the draft and shown kissing his boyfriend on ESPN.

Given all the problems the Dolphins struggled with last season when a bullying scandal became front-page news, the last thing anyone would have expected was a Miami player embroiled in another controversial mess. The Dolphins responded quickly, fining Jones and suspending him from team activities. Miami Coach Joe Philbin said Jones’ remarks were inappropriate and unacceptable.

Jones attempted to retrieve his comments, but the damage was done. “I take full responsibility for them and I regret that these tweets took away from his draft moment,” he said in a statement released by the Dolphins.

Former Mississippi basketball standout Marshall Henderson - another collegian who lived and died with his antics - stirred it up with a tweet about Sam, as well. He criticized ESPN for televising Sam celebrating his draft selection.

If nothing else, give Henderson credit for offering a surprising explanation about why he opted to comment: Henderson said he did so at the request of a gay friend who was struggling with whether to tell his family about his sexual orientation. Perhaps the feedback from the tweet, they thought, would gauge public reaction.

Believe what you will, but it shouldn’t have been difficult to predict the response.

Social media has changed the world in so many ways. Comments that would never have been considered for publication before the Internet now go flying at warp speed.

Just because a person can make a comment doesn’t mean he should. There are consequences - a fact some people forget until too late.

Henderson told ESPN he expected to initiate discussion, just not as strong a response as his comment received. “I saw their reactions and thought we’ve got something brewing here,” he said. “I knew I was sticking my neck out there doing it, but I wanted to see how people reacted.” The former Ole Miss star said the episode left his friend scared.

People have said crazy things for a long time, so there’s no reason to think there’s been a recent outbreak of stupidity. What’s new is the simplicity of communicating to a large audience.

A quote variously attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and others notes the importance of selecting words judiciously:  “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

Now that’s something worth tweeting.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

1
Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Another stumble begs questions about Notre Dame

    Notre Dame's vaunted reputation for formidable athletics and serious academics is again sullied by a cheating scandal. Maybe the high standards of the Fighting Irish are just too good to be true.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ice bucket challenge trending up

    Internet trends are a dime a dozen these days. Everything from Tebowing to planking to the cinnamon challenge can cause a wave of social media activity that can last for weeks before fizzling out.

    August 19, 2014

  • Africa goes medieval in its fight against Ebola

    As the Ebola epidemic claims new victims at an ever-increasing rate, African governments in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have instituted a "cordon sanitaire," deploying troops to forcibly isolate the inhabitants in an area containing most of the cases.

    August 18, 2014

  • Democrat? Republican? There's an app for that

    If you're a Republican, you might want to think twice before buying Lipton Iced Tea, and forget about Starbucks coffee. If you're a Democrat, put down that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and throw away the cylinder of Quaker Oats in your pantry.

    August 18, 2014

  • Five myths about presidential vacations

    In the nuclear age, presidents may have only minutes to make a decision that could affect the entire world. They don't so much leave the White House as they take a miniature version of it with them wherever they go.

    August 15, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Debate filled with 'hate' gives Hamas a pass

    Political invective is dialed to the max, and everyone who disagrees is a "hater." But the hate police, who are so eager to cast labels, are ignoring the real wells of contempt in the Middle East.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg OU player's suspension shows pitfalls of addressing sexual assault on campus

    The University of Oklahoma's leading tackler is suspended for the season - or maybe not. Frank Shannon is still practicing with the Sooners amid a court battle over whether OU can discipline him after a sexual assault investigation. The tough issue of addressing assault on campus isn't just OU's problem.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • A night in Ferguson

    For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald's a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown's shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby.

    August 14, 2014

House Ads
Hendricks County Marquee
Email News Sign Up
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

Are you worried about the violence in Ferguson, Mo., spreading across the country?

Yes
No
Not concerned one way or the other
     View Results
AP Video
US Trying to Verify Video of American's Killing FBI Director Addresses Ferguson Shooting in Utah Raw: Police at Scene of St. Louis Shooting Police: 2 Calif. Boys Planned School Shooting NOLA Police Chief Retires Amid Violent Crimes Lunch Bus Delivers Meals to Kids Out of School Water Bottles Recalled for Safety Researcher Testing On-Field Concussion Scanners Rockets Fired From Gaza, in Breach of Ceasefire Raw: Japanese Military Live Fire Exercise Police, Protesters Clash in Ferguson Independent Autopsy Reveals Michael Brown Wounds Nashville Embraces Motley Crue Obama: 'Time to Listen, Not Just Shout' Lawyer: Gov. Perry Indictment a 'Nasty Attack' Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Crosses Into Ukraine Iowa Man Builds Statue of a Golfer Out of Balls Assange Gets Cryptic About Leaving Embassy in UK Raw: Building Collapse in South Africa, 9 Dead Raw: Pope Francis Meets 'Comfort Women'
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Must Read