No Passes When it Comes To Racial Slurs
The recent investigation into the behavior inside the Miami Dolphins locker room coupled with Michael Sam entering the NFL brings to light the ongoing issue of trash talking and what is and isn’t acceptable. The NFL competition committee is considering a new rule that gives a 15-yard penalty to anyone who uses the “N-word” during a game. Seems odd that they should have to even consider this rule, but I guess that word gets thrown around on the field about as often as Peyton Manning hollers for a city in Nebraska. Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark told ESPN that the N-word is often heard during a game and that it’s most often a black player using it towards another black player. The league is considering the 15-yard penalty for anyone using the word, white or black.
For years the debate has been whether there is a double standard about the word – a white guy can’t use it but a black guy can. For my money if it’s offensive it’s offensive, no matter who says it. The rise of rap and hip hop music has desensitized the word since it seems to be used in almost every other sentence in those styles of music. Steelers owner Dan Rooney had players stop playing rap music in the locker room because he didn’t want to hear that word. Somehow it took an 80-year-old white guy, who grew up in an era when the word was much more used and accepted in a derogatory sense, to tell his majority black locker room to stop using the word.
It’s seems ridiculous to think that a word spoken by one type of guy is the worst word you can say, but spoken by another guy right next to him, he’s cool. The Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin investigation has forced the Dolphins to change their locker room conduct…and probably the rest of the league as well. Incognito suggested that all he was doing was “toughing” up a younger player, just as he’d seen done dozens of times before. And if he, as a white player, had heard black players using the N-word among themselves, isn’t it logical that he assumed the word wasn’t that offensive?
Either a professional locker room is different than any other work environment or it isn’t. I’ve said for years that to allow females inside a men’s locker room, with naked men all around, is asinine. That isn’t tolerated in a real estate company or a law firm or any other work environment but somehow everyone in charge seems to think it’s okay in sports. So maybe they should be able to say offensive things to each other too. If you don’t think an opponent is going to say something offensive to Michael Sam next season, you’re completely naive. Players will use whatever they can to mess with an opponent and gain an advantage.
But if we expect athletes to be leaders and role models, then don’t tolerate their misbehavior “because they’re jocks and well, anything goes.” We live in a civilized society and no one should get a pass to treat others like dogs.