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Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Scarlet Devils and Blue Knights

What makes Sports Law so interesting is how society plays out its neuroses through the microcosm of sports. Just look at the controversies involving two college sports teams: the Rutgers Women Hoopsters and the Duke Lacrossers.

When the Duke story first broke, the liberal media was quick to assume their guilt as an inevitable byproduct of privilege and indulgence. These were rich white spoiled jocks, the story went, and the law and its protectors should deal with their behavior in the harshest terms. We all learned eventually the facts were quite different and the real villain turned out to be the Arm of the Law who thought these sportsmen were an easy mark who could advance his career. The case has now been dismissed.

Next we have Mr. Imus who didn’t think at all because it was so easy to make a sophomoric racist joke about a predominantly African-American team.

Neither attack proved so easy and may likely end the careers of the attackers.

What have we learned?

First, when real life events enter the sports bubble, they are typically blown out of proportion.

Second, and more importantly, sportsmen and women are not all of a type. While they may work wondrously as a team during the game, off the field they are individuals, often as different from one another and from the stereotype as can be imagined. Both the Duke men and Rutgers women turned out to be accomplished and articulate, deserving of dignity not ridicule.

Most athletes, even the Pros rich in income and adulation, don’t want to be either made examples of or coddled; nor do they deserve such disparate treatment when they are out of the park.


Arent they similar. In both cases, there are white and black people involved, and the White person is being attacked by the media for something he did to the black person. I am not condoning what Imus said, but Ithink in both cases there was judgements made too quickly.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 4/11/2007 7:56 PM  

I don't think they're at all similar. The Duke case was continuously pursued despite a complete lack of evidence and the team was demonized solely on the base that they were privileged athletes. Conversely, Imus stated outright on the RADIO a blatantly racist comment directed towards a group of female student-athletes that did not deserve it. The only thing the two have in common, which is pointed out in the blog post, is that the two groups were undeserving of the criticisms/accusations/comments they received.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 4/11/2007 9:47 PM  

My bad, I meant to say "I don't think THAT makes them at all similar". There are obviously similarities; I just don't think that judgments on Imus were made "too quickly".

Anonymous Anonymous -- 4/11/2007 9:48 PM  

Also, from my understanding of the situation, the Rutgers players were already a story because they were underdogs who overcame adversity and won the women's championship. Imus then insulted them.

Duke's situation had nothing to do with anything that occurred on the field, but rather an ill-planned party.

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Blogger Arbizaa -- 4/12/2007 6:20 AM  

I'd be innocent too if the police didn't show at my house for 48 hours after the a police report was filed.

It's always amazing to witness facts get tossed to the wind when the "machine" begins its insidious whirring.

Anonymous D-Wil -- 4/12/2007 9:55 AM  

>>I'd be innocent too if the police didn't show at my house for 48 hours after the a police report was filed.

It's always amazing to witness facts get tossed to the wind when the "machine" begins its insidious whirring. <<

Yes it has been conclusively established that within 48 hours you can change your very DNA to prevent tying you to multiple contributers of DNA and hack into bank computers to create fake ATM photos and records showing one identified perpertrator being at a different location at the time of the crime and then use mind control to get the victim to be incapable of telling a consistent story.

The Duke situation was very different to me from Rutgers. With the Duke case many were ready to rush to judgment because of stereotypes about rich boys at a rich school. We've all seen the movies, Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, and so on that play to that stereotype. The claims made fit a preconceived notion so it obviously must be true. Around Duke it was probably more likely to ring true because of resentment toward the outsiders. A case less about race and much more about class and status. I grew up in a small community with a private college and know there was a great deal of resentment against the students who arrived from all over the country. I'm told that in the most recent election that one county office was determined by a run-off election where one candidate went negative by bringing up the fact the opponent (and eventual narrow victor) was a graduate of that college.

Rutgers, a very different situation. One person sparked a firestorm that took away from one of the better feel good stories in sports recently. Unlike Duke, very little division in public opinion, the statements have been rather uniformly condemned with debate centering on what the appropriate consequences should be and whether Imus should be at the center of a firestorm for saying things that can be heard in "comedy" shows and in popular music without drawing any notice.

Blogger Mark F -- 4/12/2007 10:21 AM  

What have we learned? Well, I've learned that people outside of Pajamas Media still use the term "liberal media" with, apparently, no irony whatsoever.

Who knew?

Anonymous Collin -- 4/12/2007 11:31 AM  

How about this: Locals vs. Outsiders.

The basketball team was made up of mostly local girls from NJ & NYC. So Imus attacked the New York, New Jersey Community, Rutgers Alumni not just the girls.

The Duke players are from all over the country, and the victim was local. If Duke and their students did a better job with the community, this would not have happened.c

Blogger Michael -- 4/12/2007 1:20 PM  

Great point.

Outsider perceived rich kids come to town and they aren't going to have the support of the community and at least down here in the south, folks just aren't overly sympathetic to you for a bad result when you hire a stripper for your party.

Imus on the other hand attacked the local pride and joy.

Blogger Mark F -- 4/13/2007 7:23 AM  

Mark F-
Given the circumstances surrounding the crime - and I do believe there were sex crimes committed by Duke lacrosse players that night - your argument is specious, at best.

I have never seen a district attorney draw inferences concerning a sex-crime case where there is potentially plenty of evidence as did Mike Nifong without some evidence of wrong-doing; and I challenge you to do so.

I never heard the results of the testing of the prophylactics found in the bathroom trash can at the house - did you? I never heard the DNA results of any of the other objects initially thought to be used in the rape - did you? Those are just two obvious questions.

Then we turn to the "dance partner's" table-turning 60 Minutes portrayal of that night. I need to only comment on this one portion of her tale to show the vast potential for her "tale" of the evening to be just that: this woman felt physically threatened by the young men in the house, stopped dancing, dressed, and began to leave the house with the rape accuser.

Then she somehow allowed her trashed partner to talk her back into the house against her own fear, because, as she said, her partner said there's more money to be made (as if this didn't occur to her already). Wait, I'll add something else from her tale. She described her dance partner as sober one minute and inexplicably drunk a scant few minutes later. This has all the signs of "date-rape" drug; plus she remembered that her partner was given a couple of shots by the young men - shot which she refused to drink... hmmmmm.

Finally, I'll turn to the media portrayal of the accuser with a question: How often did you hear the accuser described as a single mother and full-time student at North Carolina Central University who worked as an exotic dancer to care for her child and pay for tuition? Hello??? When did you say - never? I thought so.

From the basic premise that the investigation was botched from the beginning - as an aside, if Nifong pursued the case, the first mal-conduct he'd have to address is that of the Durham police force - and that media images grossly swung support toward the lacrosse players, I surmise that a whitewash - no pun intended - was in effect.

Anonymous D-Wil -- 4/15/2007 12:43 AM  

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