Tim Duncan, you are one of a kind. You will be missed!
A Thin Blue Line Between Love and Hate
It’s been a rough couple week to be an American. The shootings last week of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, and five police officers in Dallas overseeing a peaceful protest have everyone’s nerves a bit raw. Last Friday, in the wake of the shootings, Knicks guard Carmelo Anthony put out a call to athletes to take a stand and demand change, no matter the possible implications on their endorsement opportunities. Taking Carmelo up on the challenge were four players on the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx. The players wore t-shirts commemorating the lives lost, and made a statement, prior to their game Saturday night against the Dallas Wings. In response, four Minneapolis officers walked off their freelance jobs working security at the game. Lt. Bob Kroll, of the Minneapolis Police Federation (not the department, but a union) supported the officers, saying, “I commend them for it,” and adding that, “ [t]hey only have four officers working the event because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw.” Man, must have been some terrible statement that the Lynx players made, huh? Let’s check:
At a pregame news conference, Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson said the players were “wearing shirts to honor and mourn the loss of precious American citizens and to plead change for all of us.”
“We are highlighting a longtime problem of racial profiling,” said forward Maya Moore, the 2014 WNBA MVP.
Players also denounced the “senseless ambush” of Dallas police.
Uh, ok. Seems pretty balanced. Well, it must have been the t-shirts. Those must have been awful.
Well, sure the front is fine. But how about the back?
The names of Castile, Sterling, and a Dallas Police Department logo? Christ, I give up. Lt. Kroll and the four Minneapolis officers are just total dickheads. But it’s more than that. It is a microcosm of what is wrong with much of the discussion on this topic. No, not all cops are bad. And yes, they have a dangerous job that puts their lives in danger and sometimes requires them to use deadly force, and sometimes they lose their lives in the process. It sucks that as a society we have so many people willing to take someone else’s life, but that’s the reality we live in. However, the fact an officer has a dangerous job does not mean he should be given the leeway to use deadly force in all situations in which he feels some apprehension.
Let me preface this by saying we may not have all the facts at this point. But “this” story has happened so many times, whether the details we have now are complete is of no importance to the larger picture. With that said, Philando Castile was killed after reportedly trying to take out his identification after being asked by the officer to do so, and having previously volunteered to the officer that he had a concealed carry permit and was in possession of a gun.
As reported, the officer went about everything wrong from the get-go. If there was no reason to detain Castile and his girlfriend (and that poor 4-year old little girl in the backseat), then he should have sent them on their way, having given them a traffic ticket if appropriate. But if there was any reason to detain Castile, he should have called for backup before doing anything else. He should have asked Castile to slowly exit the car. He should have explained to Castile that he was doing this for both of their safety. He should have asked Castile to place his hands on the roof of the car. He should have placed Castile in handcuffs, and told him that he was not under arrest but that he was again doing this for both of their safety. He should have asked him where the gun was located. He should have explained to him that he was going to take the gun for both of their safety. He should have then slowly taken the gun, secured it, removed the handcuffs after a further pat-down search, and conducted the rest of his business. Once that was done, he should have returned the gun to Castile and sent them on their way. He should have never unholstered his weapon.
It seems he did almost exactly the opposite. He left Castile in the car where the officer has less control over the situation. He then reportedly asked him to present his identification. He then completely freaked the hell out as Castile attempted to retrieve his ID from his pocket. And he shot him Repeatedly. Then, he didn’t offer medical assistance. He could have begun attempting to put pressure on the wound and hey, maybe Castile is alive today. Instead, he stood there holding a gun in the face of a dying man, while the man’s girlfriend and little girl sat in the car and watched him bleed to death.
Which is not to suggest that this officer is a bad person. He sounds terrible at his job, because it seems he did everything wrong. But he may very well be a good person. He was certainly ill-suited for his job, either because of the wrong temperament and the inability to deal with stress, or because he got poor training, or not enough training, in how to deal with that stress. Either way, that is an institutional failure. If the officer was not personally able to deal with the stress of the job, that should be uncovered during the hiring and training process and he should not have been hired. Institutional fail. If it’s a lack of quality or quantity of training, that’s also an institutional failure.
And on top of that, when officers do shoot someone, in my opinion as someone who has dealt with this in his profession, the law gives officers far too much leeway. Officers have what they call a Use of Force Continuum:
But too many officers jump right to the last step on the continuum: deadly force. The law then does not second-guess the officer’s decision making in hindsight: as long as they say they felt fear for their life, and there is at least some plausibility for having done so, they skate. The standard for the reasonability of their apprehension should be far higher, because we have essentially written them a blank check. And when there are no witnesses, as often happens, it’s open-and-shut. The officer’s word against nobody’s. Dead men don’t talk.
But instead of being able to have this discussion, which is what the Lynx players asked for when they demanded justice and accountability, you get police officers working a part-time job as literal rent-a-cops walking out on their job. And they didn’t just walk out on the team. They walked out on the public that they have sworn to protect and serve. That idiot Lt. Kroll might want to know that over 7,600 people attended that game. And there were apparently no officers in attendance to keep those people safe in the event something happened. Not because the players said all cops are bad. But because they offered condolences to the dead, and demanded institutional change. Sad. -TOB
Source: “Minneapolis Cops Working Lynx Game Walk Out Over Player Comments, Warm-Up Jerseys”, Randy Furst, Minneapolis Star-Tribune (07/12/2016)
PAL: I don’t mean this as a copout, but I’m still processing and trying to form my opinion on a whole lot of what’s covered in this story. I’ll tell you what – I’m not sure I’m down with police moonlighting in uniform as security (the norm for a long time), which was the case for the Lynx game. I agree with TOB – you can’t walkout and endanger those in attendance at the game.
I was visiting family in Roseville, MN when Castile was killed 3.6 miles from where I grew up. The tension is palpable – no doubt. It came up within a few minutes of every conversation with friends and family. We have a race problem, we have a police problem, and it can’t be ignored a moment longer.
Joe Paterno Can Rot In Hell
The Penn State child rape story somehow got more depressing this week: Here’s the short of it: Penn State settled with all of the victims and then tried to get reimbursed by their insurance company. The insurance company balked and the two sides have been litigating. In the course of that litigation, a lot more has come out. For one, it appears Paterno knew about Sandusky raping children as early as the 1970s! For two, it appears other coaches, including former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano and current UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley knew about the rapes as far back as the early 1990s, about ten years before Mike McQueary later did. McQueary testfied in a deposition that when he told Bradley about seeing Sandusky raping a boy, Bradley told him that Schiano had seen something “similar” to McQueary in the early 90s and told Bradley. None of these bastards did anything.
Which is why it disgusts me that Penn State even still has a football program. To be clear, I don’t think Penn State should have punished more because a coach raped a child. Or even multiple children. Penn State should be punished more because a coach was raping children for decades, and for decades, people ALL THROUGHOUT the university knew – from assistant coaches, the very powerful head coach, and upwards into the administration – and did NOTHING. They even let him continue to use campus, where he continued to rape children. So many children were raped because the first time Paterno and others knew, decades before it became public, they turned the other way. And they did so to protect the football program. They chose football over raped children, and worse, over children who had not yet been raped but would be raped.
Penn State should be absolutely crushed. It honestly hasn’t been bad enough. The fact that they are still competing at the upper levels of college football proves to me they weren’t punished enough
And the reason they should be crushed into obscurity is to serve as a deterrent. Maybe the next time a Mike McQueary or Greg Schiano sees a little boy being raped in the showers they won’t just tell the head coach and when no arrests are made continue on their merry way. Maybe they’ll go to the police themselves, and the next kid and the kid after that will be spared. -TOB
Source: “Mike McQueary Claims Greg Schiano and Tom Bradley Knew About Jerry Sandusky While at Penn State“, Tom Ley, Deadspin (07/12/2016)
PAL: How about this – when you see a coach, former coach, or ANYONE sexually assaulting a child, you step in and remove the child from that situation immediately. Separate from all process and procedure, those who witnessed Sandusky in the act and walked away…how do you do that? How do you not separate the two and beat the crap out of Sandusky on the spot?
There Was No Joy In Mudville, Mom and Dad Stole the Cash
This very uplifting week of 1-2-3 Sports continues… this time we have parents embezzling money from youth sports leagues all across the country. Terrific. Some of the amounts stolen are quite amazing – including this guy who stole over $200,000:
The league had been fundraising for years to buy its own fields – and this guy Kevin Baker stole it all. When he was caught, the league was in fact in debt. It did remind me of a story from my own life – when I was a kid, my mom served as our Little League’s president for a couple of years, so I have the inside scoop. For years, two people ran our league’s snack shack. And every year the snack shack lost money. Per my mom’s memory, it lost about $15,000 per year. After many years, two new people took over and suddenly the snack shack was a gold mine – it was now MAKING $15,000 a year. Because it was all cash and thus difficult to prove, no one ever went to the authorities. But it does highlight how easily this can happen. The article suggests that many leagues have moved to hiring professional bookkeepers and taking the money out of the hands of parents. Seems like a wise move. -TOB
Source: “The Trusted Grown-Ups Who Steal Millions From Youth Sports”, Bill Pennington, New York Times (07/07/2016)
PAL: This week sucks. I don’t know what else to say. This story is depressing. Sometimes parents are the absolute worst part of youth sports. Makes you wonder if kids would be better off just going to the park and playing pickup games until they’re in high school.
You know what pisses me off, now that I’m on the subject? I loved Little League! I had great experiences in youth sports. Sure, some parents were a little intense and liked to play the politics game, but for the most part everyone kept their sh*t together. Youth sports can be the best, and stories like this make it the worst.
“The only thing I’ll remember about it is just the pain. That’s the worst part about the injury, is how much it hurt, because I tried to get up. I went down and I didn’t know what happened, because you don’t feel it in that area. It goes up to your mid-section, so I thought my appendix burst or something, because I couldn’t move. It was an unbelievable feeling. I’ll never forget it. I tried to get up and I had to crawl to the bench. I had to crawl and they were like, ‘Get up, get up.’ I was like, ‘I can’t get up.’”
And that’s what it feels like to get hit in the man region with a slapshot in hockey. An unbelievable feeling, indeed. As a catcher, I had a couple not so great moments that I’m happy to tell you about over a beer. I did have a cup break once, and then there’s the time, off of a foul tip, one of my testicals ascended up into an area where testicals should not be. I bounced my butt on home plate (I want to say a coach provided this tip earlier in the season), and it returned to its parking spot. Good times. – PAL
Source: “Bruins Prospect Jake DeBrusk Had A Horrific Testicular Injury”, Samer Kalaf, Deadspin (7/13/16)
TOB: Why DOES the pain go to your midsection? I’ll need a doctor to chime in.
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