Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Attacks on Stern & NBA

There's been some harsh recent criticism and scrutiny placed on Commissioner David Stern and the NBA due to the referee betting scandal. While I can't draw parallels between the crimes of gambling and murder, I see this situation similar to how the media is attacking World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. One employee of a league or company makes improper and bad decisions to commit illegal acts, and the media runs wild with it. The WWE has been attacked about steroid abuse and bad policy as a possible reason Chris Benoit may have snapped and murdered his wife and son, and then commited suicide. The NBA is receiving similar scrutiny of its policies now due to the actions of its referee who has allegedly bet on games he may have refereed in.

I only compare these as ways of showing how the media will use a story based on one individual's actions to try to "expose" how bad a league or sport is. It's poor reporting to do this because judging an entire sports league or entertainment company on the bad actions of just one employee is unfair and ignorant. Now the major differences here are definitely the heinous nature of the crimes and where they were committed. Benoit's crime occurred away from his place of employment while the NBA referee allegations are crimes that may have occurred during Donaghy's employment. Still, the media has used both of these events to launch huge investigations and reports on how bad the company policies may be. For some reason the NFL has been seperated from Michael Vick and the dogfighting allegations. There's not much discussion that the NFL could have done more to prevent Vick's actions, and there is more discussion of him acting wrongfully as an individual. Of course with the WWE and NBA scandals, we can always pose the question "what more could have been done to prevent this?"

David Stern is entirely right when he claims that you can have all the policy in the world but even then "determined individuals can still commit crimes". I don't believe Stern should be criticized for an allegedly crooked referee doing what he did, and possibly being connected to the mob. As others have stated we have crooked politicians, judges, teachers, police officers and other citizens in our country. Who is held liable for their actions? It should be the individual who committed them. When most good, legitimate and honest companies discover someone has violated policies, they take appropriate actions. There's no such thing as perfect policy which controls things exactly and justly. If Stern states that the NBA works with experts in security and runs vigorous background checks, I trust his judgement and understanding of how the policy works. I also trust that Stern will tweak his system to ensure it is even better. After all, Stern has implemented a dress code to give players a more professional appearance, and I am willing to bet he will take steps to ensure his referee staff is held to the highest standards possible.

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