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Big Ben: It tolls for thee

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The modern 24-hour news cycle hasn’t been kind to anyone exactly, but it’s been very hard for the modern professional athlete. Religious and political leaders may be unfairly and mercilessly held to a standard we could never live up to ourselves, but there is a certain expectation when you choose those vocations that morality will be required. Reading progressions in a cover two doesn’t smack of morality, but we toss athletes in the same bucket anyway, where entrance requires only that they be on our television.

Maybe Roger Goodell should run the God Damned Vatican.

Anyway

I’ve been listening to sports talk radio for 20 years. I when I started listening to sports talk radio WEEI in Boston was your news leader, the Red Sox were on WRKO and Eddie Andelman was on WHDH. Sports talk has been a boys’ club forever. The expectation  was that no women were even accidentally listening so the hell with them, and political correctness is for girls and fairies to put it in the colloquialisms of my youth (that’s “ballsacks” for you Mariah MacCarthy fans). The gestalt response from the On Air Jocks was that boys will be boys and well, these things happen. Down to in the fourth hour and on the edge of punchy folks reflecting that well she was asking for it. No quotes, no cites, that’s the way it was. That’s the way the world was.

And the expectation is that that bunch of goofballs is qualified to comment on morality.

Sports talk radio is glossier now. It’s moved from jumped up college radio production values to Adult Contemporary production values. But it’s still very much a boys’ club. There is still a whiff of sexism and misogyny and boys will still be boys, which is why I was so pleasantly surprised at my local ESPN affiliate’s drive time show’s response to Ben Roethlisberger.

For those who has missed the cyclone, Roethlisberger, the starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers and two-time Super Bowl champion has been accused more than once of sexual assault. He has never been arrested for it and never convicted. He is not “guilty” of anything in the eyes of the law.

To avoid libel I’ll go with: he’s a ballsack who likes to party hard and gives off a drunken frat boy rape-y vibe.

And this image search

and this block quote:

But Roethlisberger followed her in and shut the door, she said.

“I still said no, this is not OK, and he then had sex with me,” she wrote. “He said it was OK. He then left without saying anything.”

So we’re clear on my opinion of the man.

In my wandering in the desert during the NPR pledge drive I stuck on 104.9 in the afternoons and braced myself for the banality. Oh, there were clubhouse hijinks leading up to a co-host’s wedding and a short sponsored segment called Stripper DJ, and a micro segment called Hotter Than, but not the all out misogyny I expected.

And The Drive’s response to Roethlisberger floored me.

No
”What was she wearing?”
”She was drunk”
”They didn’t arrest him so…”
”She had it coming”

Not once. Not as devil’s advocate. Not ever. It didn’t matter what the legal status was… at the very best he was a cromagnon thug and that’s not a best to aspire to.

They didn’t sum their attitude up while discussing cutting a Pro Bowl QB or suspending him, or making him do community service in a battered women’s shelter to show him the effects of his sort of disrespect on women, so let me sum it up for them.

Boys may be boys, be a Man.

Thank you to Greg Ketchum and Chad Hastings for holding men to a higher standard than “of course he couldn’t control himself”.

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  • dansolomon

    That's nuts. I rarely spend much time with sports radio, but the reactions I've read – like from Peter King at SI, who had a good one on the subject – have been a lot more sober. (Side note: I wonder if sportswriters are generally more thoughtful than sports radio people?)

    I mean, the dude is innocent of the crime of rape, we get that. And it's difficult to prosecute a guy for the crime of giving shots to underage girls, even though there's not really much argument that he was at the very least responsible, so he's not going to be charged for the crime we know he did. But I suspect that the prosecutor probably opted not to pursue charges against Roethlisberger partly because he knew that the QB would be subject to some severe workplace discipline from Goodell, so given the general flimsiness of the case, it made more sense to let things play out there. (Just based on what I know of decent prosecutors.) Which makes it kinda absurd to use the fact that he wasn't charged as “proof” that he didn't do anything wrong. He's not a criminal. He's innocent of the crime of rape. But the NFL (rightfully) has a different standard, and I'm glad they're going to hold him to it. I hope they sit him half the year or more.

    –d