By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) Mitch Albom’s a sentient carnival caricature drawing.
He said the following on Sunday about the woman whom Tampa Bay Buccaneers and former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston allegeprobably raped, who recently received settlement money from the university.
“I’d feel a lot happier about this if the woman took that money and gave it to charity and said, ‘That’s not what this was about.’ I always am suspect when people end up saying, ‘Well, I’m going to take it.’”
Mitch Albom isn’t good at using words for good. Then he sort of challenged Florida State for talking the talk but not walking the walk and dragging the woman through costly court proceedings, all while ignoring that victims of sexual assault suffer financial burdens as well as the physical and psychological ones. Katie Hnida, assault survivor and author of Still Kicking: My Dramatic Journey As the First Woman to Play Division One College Football, explains:
“It’s very clear that Albom is ill-informed about the financial burden that comes with being a rape victim. Without even going into the fact that some women are still charged for their own rape exams (that’s a whole other terrible story), the monetary costs associated with this trauma include everything from paying for counseling and other associated medical care; missed work and wages; paying tuition for courses that had to be dropped or left incomplete; moving expenses and possible broken rent contracts; safety (such as) new locks to personal safety devices; legal costs—the list goes on and on. It adds up quickly and many are things that people don’t normally think twice about. No one realizes that being a rape victim can leave you in a world of debt, to say nothing of the intangible costs; the pain and suffering that are second to none.”
Albom isn’t the only one who’s misinformed. Deion Sanders is to education what Deion Sanders is to most things off the football field. And yet Sanders believes he can educate people on the intersections of sports and reality and how we just don’t understand the real violent athlete-human.
On Friday he said this:
“Johnny (Manziel)’s in love. And Johnny’s in love with something that’s crippling him right now. I understand it. And it upsets me that grown-ups don’t understand it. Because he feels as though this game don’t love him, the people in this game don’t love him, so the only thing that he associates with love is that thing that’s really inflicting a lot of pain on him, and that’s his girlfriend.”
This is the girlfriend who gave a detailed account of how Manziel terrorized and assaulted her last month, and not for the first time. That’s just Johnny Football in love to Sanders. And to Sanders, the person who has Johnny in love is making him allegeprobably do these violent things.
Here’s a request to any and all major sports media outlets: stop getting the opinions from the likes of Deion Sanders or Mitch Albom when it comes to violence committed against women or children. What do you think you’re accomplishing in doing so? Men like these are clearly undereducated on the issues they’re choosing to speak on. They’re counterproductive, and they only work to use their powerful voices to make the already ignorant feel smarter and validated in the crappy opinions instilled in them by adults who failed them in their childhoods.
If you’re going to cover a story on an athlete’s alleged violence, mandate that the coverage involves perspective/information from primary sources. That’s just basic responsibility. Put out a damn memo, gag the bubbled former athletes/coaches in nice suits “just giving my (super uneducated and misogynist) opinion,” rile up the First Amendment humpers, so be it. But right now you’re perpetuating a terrible patriarchal culture of producing air instead of consuming information.
But I know for the most part this would mean venturing into dangerous territory of highlighting women and centering victims instead of celebrity perpetrators. You’re otherwise rewashing the same skid-stained laundry with turd-filled water week after week, though.
If you the editor, producer or whomever has a shred of humanism in you, be better with handling the story, know the hamfistedness of your on-camera personnel and quotables, the impressionability of your audience and the many victims of violence who have to see that you give them the same unfair chance now as some garbage person did then.
Because the only person who wins when we focus on the enabled man-baby in crisis and the support he’s receiving and the cries for help and any other phrase you want to insert to wash our hands of being complicit in his creation is the man-baby we only care about because he plays sports on TV when not suspended. Instead, try to focus on the very real person we’re making a detail, making a marginalized “other,” and the millions in similar situations whose credibilities get automatically questioned and therefore inherently disbelieved due to the very rush to apologize for or lift up the alleged abuser.
Stop that. Start getting better words from more informed people.
And now back to Cam Newton being too proud.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.