Tom Carkeek - November 26, 2014

Back in prehistoric days - that is, before Twitter - jocks had to go out of their way to put their ignorance on full display. Perhaps an annoying reporter's question would set them off. Or a pesky heckler at a public appearance would get under their skin.

But now it's much too easy. These vapid, self-absorbed athletes just log in to their Twitter accounts, and out spills ill-informed, unadulterated tripe.

The latest entrants in the Derby of the Dense are those who obliterated logic and objectivity by castigating the grand jury decision in the Ferguson, Mo., case. It's probably not surprising that young people who earn millions by bouncing a ball or swinging a racket come up somewhat short in their sociological interpretations. But it's distressing nonetheless.

By and large, they're taking their cues from their idols at the top, Barack Obama and Eric Holder.

In remarks shortly after the grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, Obama, the master of passive-aggressive messaging, tepidly asked for calm before obliquely emasculating law enforcement several times. And Holder, who is Al Sharpton with a fancy title, assured the race baiters that the federal government would not be deterred from its investigation.

A legally empaneled grand jury heard testimony from about 60 witnesses before rendering its decision. Transcripts of that testimony are available, though it's probably safe to assume the pampered athletes who shot off their mouths didn't bother reading any of it.

To summarize: The... read more »

Sheldon Hirsch - November 25, 2014

Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose caused an uproar by revealing that he sits out some basketball games to minimize injury. Rose specified that he does not want to attend his son’s future graduations “all sore.” Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, among other critics, argued that playing with injuries is an occupational requirement justified by NBA salaries and athletic glory. O’Neal added that Rose seemed “soft.”

The Rose brouhaha inverts the usual situation. Athletes typically brag about how tough or talented they are. Most people discount the talk; only performance matters. In this instance, however, critics focused on Rose’s timid talk rather than on his exemplary on-court performances. 

Ironically, many observers previously suggested that Rose’s aggressive play contributed to his injuries and recommended that he tone down his approach in the interests of his long-term health.

Following the exchange, Rose continued his physical play (seemingly at odds with his own sentiments) and led the Bulls to victory over the first-place Toronto Raptors. He attacked the basket relentlessly — no Raptor could stay in front of him — and fought through pick after pick set by Raptors big men trying to free their own star, Kyle Lowry. Unfortunately, Rose’s characteristic aggressive performance ended prematurely with a pulled hamstring, perhaps giving voice to those advising more prudence in his play.

Until Rose plays soft (for the first time ever) or sits out a meaningful game... read more »

Jill R. Dorson - November 19, 2014

Adrian Peterson hit his son with a switch.

Do I think this is right? No.

But after the NFL banned Peterson for the rest of this season on Tuesday, my issue is no longer with Peterson. I don’t agree with him, but I have some amount of respect him. At least he owns his actions and has a clear vision of what he believes is right.

The NFL? Not so much.

From Ray Rice to Greg Hardy to Peterson, the NFL has proven only one thing: It has no moral compass.

Exhibit A: Player cold-cocks his then-fiancée and drags her out of an elevator like a hunter dragging its kill. Hmmm. How about a two-game suspension? Oh, no, the incident is caught on videotape and widely distributed. The public doesn’t like this. Ok, make that an indefinite suspension.

Exhibit B: Player assaults and threatens to kill his girlfriend. He is found guilty by a court of law. And the NFL does … nothing. The Carolina Panthers place the player on the “commissioner’s exempt list,” which means he gets paid not to play. The NFL continues to do nothing, again proving it doesn’t know right from wrong.

Exhibit C: Player hits his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch. News of this becomes public and his team gives him a day off. A grand jury chooses not to indict the player for child abuse, but later does indict him for “reckless or negligent injury to a child.” The Vikings deactivate the player for a single game. The NFL does, wait for it … nothing. The Vikings then reinstate the player AND a previous... read more »

Eric Dezenhall - November 12, 2014

The 2014 World Series recently ended and this, in and of itself, represents a success story in crisis management. Major League Baseball is, in fact, thriving, and given the steroid-abuse scandals that have rocked the sport in recent years – against the backdrop of the domestic violence controversy that has sent the National Football League reeling – it merits a look into what went right.

Since the steroids crisis hit in the late 1990s in the wake of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s home run slugfest, MLB has been deliberately renovating its product on and off the field. You would never know it, however, to read news reports that declared commissioner Bud Selig’s crisis management a failure, including the inevitable calls for Selig’s resignation. 

This is a concept I call the “Fiasco Vortex” in my book GLASS JAW, which is a public relations virus where immediately upon any action on the part of the principal in crisis, a spontaneous industry of “crisis creators” emerges to declare the crisis handling to have been botched, thereby deepening the core crisis across multiple media.

MLB’s crisis creators included the sports media (which largely ignored the burgeoning steroids crisis in the 1990s); Congress (which jumped in front of cameras and held high-profile but meaningless hearings); and those who benefitted from leaking the names of players in the Mitchell Report (agents and the publicists of "clean" players).

Selig, however, avoided playing whack-a-mole with a media and... read more »