People – and institutions – learn things in different ways. The norm for most institutions is that they learn by experience and not from some kind of group-cognition that reveals some kind of understanding of smart things to do as opposed to dumb things to do. One of the adversaries to “learning by experience” is stubbornness; some folks – and some institutions – seem impervious to taking advice or considering protest. Often, such folks/institutions rightfully become public piñatas for their actions flavored with their stubbornness.
If these rants followed a path of political commentary, that introductory paragraph might fill up a week’s worth of verbiage for folks to read. Fortunately for everyone here, I try to concentrate on sports. Today, I would like to suggest that two sports institutions that I have bashed more than once in the past may have shed a tad of stubbornness and may have learned from experience. That does not make them perfect – they have a LONG way to go just to become something more than a waste of space – but it is a start.
The first organization that may have figured out that obstinance is not next to Godliness is – hold your breath – FIFA. According to a Reuters story earlier this week, the 2022 World Cup Tournament will not happen in Qatar. The report quotes a FIFA Executive Committee member, Theo Zwanzeiger, focusing on something other than the social/political/diplomatic/economic aspects of the FIFA decision to put the games there:
“Medics say that they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions…”
It would be a lot easier for the FIFA foofs to be stubborn about their previous decision – and avoid all gas they will take from Qatar and whatever allies Qatar can gather in a debate to change the decision made in 2010 – when the arguments did not focus on player safety and fan safety. More from Theo Zwanzeiger:
“They may be able to cool the stadiums but a World Cup does not take place only there.
“Fans from around the world will be coming and traveling in this heat and the first life-threatening case will trigger an investigation by a state prosecutor.
“That is not something that FIFA Exco members want to answer for.”
Other FIFA officials quickly pointed out that Zwanzeiger was not expressing an official FIFA position and that he was merely expressing his opinion. Nonetheless, it appears as if concerns for athlete safety have caught the attention of at least some FIFA officials and that is a significant change.
Learning from experience…?
The second organization that seems to have learned from experience and had decided to change its current behavior is – hold your breath again – the NCAA. Mark Emmert said that the NCAA will stay away from involvement concerned with domestic violence or investigations of domestic violence on college campuses. He told the AP that domestic violence is a school issue and not an NCAA issue and that colleges should handle these matters – even if they involve student-athletes.
Mark Emmert is absolutely on the right side of that issue – and that is not a sentence I am wont to type. Not only does the NCAA have no organizational interest in such matters, the NCAA has no expertise or insight to add to anything the colleges might choose to do or not to do. If he can hold to that position, he got it right. However, he is more than likely to take a whole lot of gas for that position. Let me frame the argument for you:
In the sordid Jerry Sandusky situation, Mark Emmert and the NCAA dove in headfirst to punish Penn State to the point where it tried to get $60M from the school to use as it saw fit at other member schools. [A court said that was not going to happen, but that was the NCAA intention.]
So if that is the NCAA established precedent for handling outrageous criminal behavior that has nothing to do with on-field athletics, why the change?
A. Does the NCAA think that victims of domestic violence – the vast majority of whom are women – do not matter enough to warrant draconian sanctions?
B. Does “date-rape” on campuses not sink to the same level of sleaze as “shower-rape”?
Sadly, the best answer for why the change will probably not get much play in headlines because it is too straightforward. The reason is that the NCAA had no business sticking its nose into the Jerry Sandusky matter in the first place and that the NCAA has learned something from that experience. Date-rape and domestic violence on campus is a matter for criminal investigation and the criminal justice system. The NCAA has nothing whatsoever to do with that and it needs to avoid becoming involved with it.
The issue of domestic violence as it relates to athletes – particularly football players in recent weeks – has come into focus recently with the names Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Jameis Winston as part of the headlines. Obviously, the half-game suspension for Winston that turned into a full-game suspension for Winston had to be part of Mark Emmert’s thinking and commentary on this matter. He did have one comment that seems to indicate that the NCAA realizes that this is a “school-matter” as opposed to an “NCAA-matter”:
“Most universities understand [student behavior and student punishment] is a reflection on the university. Universities have a lot more at stake in holding students accountable for their behavior. I wouldn’t say it’s done right all the time, but it is done right most of the time.”
Learning from experience…?
Finally, here is Greg Cote of the Miami Herald on the PGA’s FedEx Cup:
“The PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs were won by somebody named ‘Billy Horschel,’ a strong indicator that whatever the FedEx Cup playoffs are, they stink.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………