The Sound Of Silence …

Sometimes silence is very loud.  There is a situation in the sporting world today where the silence is very loud indeed.  A WNBA player has been accused of domestic violence by her wife and the reaction of the team and the WNBA is to have that player continue to play while they investigate.  According to one report, Natasha Howard allegedly stabbed her wife, Jacquline Howard.  In a separate incident, another WNBA player Riquna Williams stands accused of domestic violence from an incident about 6 months ago and Ms. Williams continues to play WNBA games as well.

  • Ms. Howard is innocent until proven guilty.  Period.
  • Ms. Williams is innocent until proven guilty.  Period.

Ms. Williams was accused of a violent interaction with her ex-girlfriend about six months ago.  That incident resulted in charges of burglary with assault and battery and aggravated assault with a firearm.  Ms. Williams has plead not guilty to all charges here and the case is proceeding through the court system.

Neither the WNBA nor the individual teams in the WNBA have any legal responsibility to suspend either player here but the WNBA has the authority to choose to do so.  It has not taken that option in either case.  And that is where the silence comes into the picture:

  • Where are the protestors and demonstrators who always say that the victim must be heard and believed and respected in such situations when the aggressor is a male athlete?

Natasha Howard is a former WNBA All-Star.  Imagine if this were an NBA player of “All-Star stature” who stood accused of such behavior and who just continued to play on.  Riquna Williams’ case is further along in the justice system and the charges there are chilling to say the least and she just plays on.  Do you think there might be an outcry if this were an NFL or an NBA player in that situation?

There are many situations where the decisions reached in the justice system and the decisions reached in the “court of public opinion” are not congruent.  That could be a powerful argument for the WNBA and for the individual teams to wait until all the facts become known in the courts before issuing punishments.  However, that argument would never hold water in a matter where an NFL or NBA player threatened a woman with a firearm or allegedly stabbed a woman.  In that case, there would be an outcry in the press and in demonstrations and in threats of boycotts and …  Here, there is silence on the part of the advocates for victims and the protestors and – most importantly – on the part of the reporters who champion victims’ rights when the aggressor is a male.

Hopefully, this next item will be a tad more upbeat – – but in the end it may not.  Saratoga opened its annual summer meeting in upstate NY last week and Del Mar will open its summer meeting “where the surf meets the turf” in CA this week.  I have always said that there are the two best racetracks and race meetings in the country and it’s a shame that they have to overlap – – but that is how it is.  The sport of horseracing needs thee two meetings to accomplish two things for the sport this year:

  1. Provide the racing fans with topflight races involving some of the best thoroughbreds in training that reveal good wagering opportunities for bettors.
  2. Take the focus of the attention paid to horseracing now away from the horrendous events at Santa Anita over the past 6 or 7 months.

Based on previous race meetings, the two tracks will almost certainly accomplish the first task above.  The second one …?

While the baseball world focused on the MLB All-Star Game recently, ESPN reported on a happening in a far less visible baseball All-Star game.  MLB and the independent Atlantic League have an agreement whereby new rules and new game management procedures will be tried out in the Atlantic League.  Essentially, MLB is paying the Atlantic League to be the equivalent of a “baseball Petri dish” to try out “new stuff”.  The Atlantic League All-Star Game rolled out one of the “new things”; it used a computer umpire to call balls and strikes.  There was still an umpire at home plate, but he had an earpiece that gave him the computer’s call when he then announced to the players and fans.  [Aside:  The home plate computer umpire was not there to make safe versus out calls at home plate or to judge half-swings by batters, so a human was still required in that position.]  The umpire is also there to make the call himself if the system misses the pitch or does not make a call; in essence, the home plate umpire is the “fail-safe system”.

The Atlantic League announced that it would use “Robot Umpires” in all its games in all of its parks starting in a few weeks.  The season for the Atlantic League runs through the third week of September so there will be more than a few games using the radar/computer system to call balls and strikes for analysis at the end of that season.  Perhaps in the future, fans will have to modify their cry to “Kill the umpire!”.

  • How about “Jam the radar!”

Finally, Greg Cote had this grim but accurate observation in the Miami Herald over the weekend:

“Ice Cube’s Big3 basketball league is underway. That’s where old former players try to show a disinterested NBA they’ve still got it. It’s called the Big3 because ‘Has-Beens On Parade’ sounded a bit harsh.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………