Why can’t we think before we speak?

By Jeff Batt | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Negligence has been a common theme in the sports industry lately, as public figures continue to ramble and let their authoritative status take over. Ted Bishop, former president of the Professional Golfers’ Association, recent comments do not even begin to explain the disrespectful attitude that has taken over sports.

Social media being the multi-billion dollar industry it is today has revolutionized the way fans, celebrities, and any average person gets their news today. When players argue over Twitter, or a public figure makes an unintentional controversial comment, it is blown out of proportion by fans and the media. Bishop’s comments were the perfect example. Bishop made a comment after English golfer Ian Poulter called out golf legend Nick Faldo for making remarks about Sergio Garcia’s poor play in the Ryder Cup. What did Bishop do next? He went on Twitter to preach his angry opinion. His comments comparing Faldo’s success to Poulter’s weren’t out of line until he called him a “lil girl.” Even though the sexist remark only consists of two words, it was the immaturity from the position where he stands as the organization’s president that shocked the world.

Bishop, who was ousted as president of the PGA, represents a continuation of irrational outbursts of high stature sports figures not thinking before they speak. Before Bishop, the trend had already been set with owners of professional teams such as Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and Atlanta Hawks Owner Danny Ferry. Sterling’s comments were aimed towards not wanting to have African-Americans, and in particular Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, into the Staples Center for Clippers game.

Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry made idiotic and selfless comments when he referred to Miami Heat star Luol Deng as having “a little African in him.” Another example of a selfish and ignorant public figure destroying his reputation.

And it has extended to athletes, as well. Jameis Winston, without a doubt the most popular and talked about player in college football, is a perfect example. The former Heisman Trophy winner and National Champion has had all the attention on him and the media following his every move after an alleged sexual assault. So what does he end up doing? Stealing crab legs from a local market, standing on a table in the Florida State student union building and yelling a derogatory term, then topping it all off by being investigated for selling autographs for benefits.

Especially in college we see young, highly talented athletes with the chance to become professionals. But maybe because they see themselves as superstars, they  do — and say — whatever they want, even if it creates controversy.

Every American is given the right to freedom of speech, but isn’t it time sports figures put a self-imposed limit on what can be said? Freedom of speech shouldn’t mean you don’t consider your surroundings and the impact what you say will have on your audience. I would love to know what goes through the minds of public figures before they make absurd and unforeseen comments. It is unfortunate that sports fan and teams have to deal with such distractions that take away from the passion of the games we all enjoy.

It’s time that college athletes, professionals and executives stop foolishly ignoring what happens due to their comments. With as much progress as we’ve had, there is no reason that anyone should still be using racist, sexist, or derogatory term towards anybody.

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