This year's college football season kicked off with
one. New Mexico women's soccer produced another. We see it all too
often on SportsCenter, be it from the NCAA, NFL, NBA of MLB. The
generic apology. The modern day athlete's get out of PR jail free card.
almost as if every media relations person for any given team or
athletic program reads from the same manual. A player on your squad
does something stupid? Have them issue a first-person mea culpa with
the following baseline structure: "I (sincerely / whole-heartedly)
regret my actions. I (lost my cool / got caught up in the heat of the
moment / let my emotions get the best of me), and I apologize to
(victim, fans, teammates, organization) for my behavior."
apologies from the coaches appear to be scripted. The remarks usually
center on how that behavior is not condoned by the team, how the player
is a good person who made a mistake, and how the situation will be
addressed directly with the individual, usually internally. For once I
would like to see a coach or manager come out and say, "That was stupid
and reckless and I don't want that player on my team. We don't need
fools like that on the field hurting others and impacting our ability
Instead, we get cookie-cutter responses that come
wrapped in a bright yellow box. It's the same apology and statement you
heard last time and will hear again, probably sometime next week.
be fair, in the cases of Oregon football and New Mexico soccer, the
respective schools reacted firmly and decisively. Oregon's LaGarrette
Blount was kicked off the team for punching a Boise State football
player following a loss at the beginning of the season. New Mexico's
Elizabeth Lambert was suspended indefinitely for her violent actions
against BYU. In contrast, University of Florida's Urban Meyer gave
player Brandon Spikes only a half game suspension after he purposefully
and deliberately attempted to gouge the eyes of Georgia's Waushaun
Ealey. Spikes imposed on himself a full game suspension, a move I doubt
he would have chosen to make had their upcoming opponent been Alabama
rather than Vanderbilt.
Still, the follow-up to all the
'regrettable' behavior is a statement made publicly by the players in
question and their respective coaches. What is truly unfortunate is
these individuals may indeed be sorry for their behavior. They may
truly feel remorseful, as well as embarrassed, for how they acted and
the results of those actions against another human being. Yet their
feelings of contrition are painted over by the broad brush that results
from us seeing this all too often, as is the case with this blog.
is no solution for this problem. Individual players will continue to
make individual mistakes. They, in turn, will issue yet another generic
apology that will cause us to roll our eyes and think, "Yeah,
whatever." That is what's truly regrettable.