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Friday, August 02, 2013
Words and actions

Riley Cooper, a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, is in deep trouble because he was video-recorded using a racial epithet in talking about who he was ready to get into a fight with. Cooper apologized all over the place (and not the typical celebrity non-apology apology) and was fined (but not suspended) by the team. Cooper today left the team to seek counseling and at least one Philadelphia commentator has suggested that this will cost him his job (and, implicitly, that no team ever will touch him).

But the NFL (all big-time sports, actually) are notorious for giving players second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances for off-field misconduct. Players who have engaged in domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment, drunk driving, and other misconduct (again, involving action) are routinely welcomed back and allowed to continue playing for their teams, perhaps following a short suspension or fine. Without condoning, excusing, or minimizing what Cooper said, is dropping a racial epithet (in a context, by the way, where it was unquestionably lawful) really more unforgiveable than all of those things?


The question isn't whether it's more unforgivable, but rather why it is making more waves.

The difference between beating your wife or getting in a fight off the field and saying a racial epithet is the amount of people it will affect. The former activities are not to be taken lightly and will earn you justified criticism. The latter, however, involves a word that is based on hatred towards people of color, who just happen to comprise a significant chunk of the league.

That said, will your average NFL player find it harder to forgive his teammate's usage of a racially-targeted word that bothers him over an off the field incident that is deplorable? I think the question answers itself, no matter how illogical it may seem.

Side note: I'm curious why the discussion is not created when an athlete uses a homophobic slur. When players are fined and suspended for saying "no homo" and other epithets relating to homosexuality, there seems to be no question of whether or not we should find the words tolerable.

Anonymous Mayenife -- 8/07/2013 2:12 AM  

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