SO THAT DOES IT. We henceforth exit the arena. TMZ, have at it. It's yours. You, too, Deadspin. The Onion? You want a piece? Sure. I mean, we can't make this stuff up. But you can. In fact, we wish you had!
Once, all we had to do was trundle down from the press box, stick a digital recorder under an athlete's nose and grunt, "Your thoughts?" Quotes were recorded, meaningful conclusions drawn, lessons on the life-affirming properties of fair play presented. A nightcap was had. Now? Sports has become an unrelenting Twitter feed of dysfunction and dismay. We could, begrudgingly, deal with the Kiss Cam. Price of progress. But the Elevator Cam?
It's been trending out of control for a while. We tried to entertain you with the excitement and wonder of athletic competition. Such achievement! Such spectacle! Such heroics! And, upon the rare misstep, such opportunity for redemption! It wasn't that we couldn't deal with the occasional Simpson or Sandusky. We could. But then it became ... not so occasional. A steady drumbeat of failings so discouraging there simply was no possibility for salvation. The criminal and the racist—beyond even our low thresholds of redemption.
And then, man, came last week. What a calendar of crap! You wonder why we're giving up? Ray Rice, who clobbered his fiancée last February, was cut by the Ravens and given a belated indefinite suspension by the NFL, which seemed more interested in protecting its "shield" (Hey, NFL, you know who has a "shield"? Cops. Cops have "shields." Quit talking about your "shield") than in finding the full video of the incident. New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon was sued by a former team senior vice president, who says he fired her for bearing a child out of wedlock, a claim the club denies. And, in a story we thought was over, Florida State reopened an investigation into sexual assault charges against star quarterback Jameis Winston.
Not exactly a culture of chivalry, huh? Nor one of racial sensitivity. Same week: Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson announced he would sell the team after having self-reported, in July, a two-year-old email that speculated "the black crowd scared away the whites." And his general manager, Danny Ferry, took a leave of absence after audio surfaced of a June conference call in which he said of forward Luol Deng, a native of South Sudan, "He's got a little African in him."
There was more. Oscar Pistorius, whose athletic exploits had once been the source of much inspirational journalism, beat a murder rap, the judge deciding the shooting death of his girlfriend (behind a bathroom door) had been merely "culpable homicide." And then this: A five-year-old child with a rare genetic skeletal disorder, who just wanted "to meet Crush Davis, and that's it," had to settle for a handshake from Orioles teammate Nelson Cruz instead. Chris Davis couldn't be at the park last Friday, on account of starting a 25-game suspension for testing positive for Adderall. (Never mind that Cruz served a 50-game PED suspension of his own last season.)
So, yeah, we've had enough. Nobody here took this gig hoping to see video of a professional football player cold-cocking his fiancée. Nobody got into the biz looking to write one more story about a bigoted NBA owner. Nobody wants to explain to a Make-A-Wish kid that his hero, like so many of ours before his, is cheating the game.
And it's not like it's just this past week. There's more like this coming down the pike. The NFL may very well have, as the National Organization for Women says, "a violence-against-women problem." Sort of like it had a concussion problem (detailed with some finality last week when the league admitted that one in three players will be affected by a brain injury down the road). It's one thing when the foibles and failures of athletes are simply representative of society. But there are so many NFL players—like San Francisco's Ray McDonald, who is under investigation for battering his pregnant fiancée last month, and Carolina's Greg Hardy (page 48) —awaiting judgment on domestic abuse cases, it is reasonable to wonder if Rice is only part of what may become a long line.
Just as the week was finally ending, CBS Houston chimed in with a report last Friday that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said he "whooped" his four-year-old with switches and a belt. The child was taken to a doctor for lacerations, cuts and bruises, and Peterson, who was deactivated for last Sunday's game, was charged with reckless or negligent child injury. The kid told authorities, "There are a lot of belts in Daddy's closet."
Could somebody please turn off the lights on the way out?
NBA in FIBA
Faces in the Crowd
The Case for
Average margin of victory by Team USA at the FIBA World Cup. The U.S.—whose narrowest win was by 21 points, against Turkey—went 9--0 and won the gold medal with a 129--92 blowout of Serbia on Sunday.
Player in Los Angeles Dodgers history to have seven at bats in a nine-inning game. Second baseman Dee Gordon went 2 for 7 in L.A.'s 17--0 shutout of the Giants last Saturday in San Francisco.
Amount U.S. golfer Billy Horschel earned over the last three weeks. He won two tournaments and finished second in a third, and took home a $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx points title.
SEC schools ranked in the top 15 of the AP's Top 25 this week, the most from any conference in the 78-year history of the poll.
Regular season games played by the Angels' Albert Pujols before striking out four times in any of them, as he did on Sept. 11 against the Rangers. By comparison, Cubs rookie second baseman Javier Baez has five four-strikeout performances in the first 39 games of his career.
ILLUSTRATION BY NICOLE ZIGMONT; GAIL BURTON/AP (RICE)
Lowlights Ray Rice's indefinite suspension for domestic abuse was far from the week's only negative story.
JESSE D. GARRABRANT/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (MEDAL)
JOHN FISHER/CAL SPORT MEDIA (GORDON)
MOSTAFA FAWZY/FOTOLIA.COM (MONEY)
STEPHEN DUNN/GETTY IMAGES (PUJOLS)