bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Riley Cooper, racism, and the dynamic of instantaneous reaction

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The big news in the sports world this week involved a racist comment made by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper during a Kenny Chesney concert last month. The comments were caught on someone’s phone, and came to light this week when a local sports-gossip site, Crossing Broad, got a hold of the video and made it public. There are a lot of layers to this story, and they all qualify as Bad Sports.

Cooper is headed into his fourth year in the NFL after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. His pro career has been undistinguished at best, but his role with the Eagles was looking to increase this season after starting receiver Jeremy Maclin tore his ACL during the first week of camp. A number of Eagles, including new head coach Chip Kelly, attended the concert at Lincoln Financial Field, the team’s home stadium. By all accounts, Cooper acted like an idiot throughout the event, which seems to be par for the course for the guy. At some point, it appears he was trying to go backstage and was prevented from doing so by an African-American security guard. This was too much for him to bear, I guess, and he blurted out a threat to fight every (N-word) in the place. Classy. The fact that this was caught on video is not a surprise at all. The only surprising thing about it is that it took this long to go public.

As with anything these days, reaction was extreme and immediate. There were calls for anything from fines, to suspensions, to Cooper being cut by the team. The player tried to get out in front of the story, giving several very public apologies, as well as addressing team executives and his teammates. The media then focused in on whether or not they felt that Cooper’s apology was sincere and whether it went far enough. The rest of the discussion continued to focus on how the team and the league should handle a punishment for his ignorance. The masses wanted blood, as always, and Cooper was this week’s target. Don’t get me wrong…I find what he said to be abhorrent. I detest racism of any kind, and I think the word he said was one that should never be said by anyone under any circumstances. The team needs to make sure that it pays attention to the dynamic in the locker room, and if this incident causes too much friction or a major division amongst the players, the Eagles might have to part ways with Cooper. To take that action before any of that occurs simply to satisfy the bloodlust of the Twitter-nation would be foolish and short-sighted. Does Riley Cooper deserve to lose his job for this? Perhaps. Although alcohol was involved, I do believe that there is no way that this is the first time the word was uttered by this guy. Drunkenness may lower your inhibitions, but it does not create the things that the inhibitions usually mask. Cooper sounds like a bad guy, and I am okay with whatever the team decides to do.

The real problem I have with the public reaction is the short memory that many people seem to be demonstrating. This franchise gave not one but two contracts to a man who, among other things, stole people’s pets and essentially fed them to his dogs to teach them to be vicious and improve their abilities in fighting. They awarded both of these contracts after he did these things. Riley Cooper said a terrible, unforgivable word. He should be cut for that while Michael Vick collects millions? Not in my book. Again, Cooper is a scumbag of whom I want no part, really. I just think that some perspective is needed here. The mayor of Philadephia has spoken out against Cooper. Did he also publicly say that the Lakers should have cut Kobe Bryant after he was caught using a gay-slur a year or two back? Awful words are awful words, and the people who use those words ultimately get what they deserve. In a league where it seems that several players are caught breaking laws every week, do Riley Cooper’s ignorant words really deserve this much attention?

Bad sports, continued:

2) Proving that people really are scum, a letter written in jail by accused murderer Aaron Hernandez was bought for $18,000 by gossip site TMZ. Revolting.

3) Two college football players, one from Texas A&M and one from Utah, were killed on Monday night in a car accident in New Mexico. Polo Manukainiu was 19 and Gaius Vaenuku was 18.

4) Houston Rockets guard Terrence Jones was arrested early Wednesday morning for allegedly stomping on the leg of a sleeping homeless man in Portland, Oregon.

5) Pitcher Matt Garza, who was recently acquired by the Texas Rangers in a trade, has apologized after ripping an Oakland A’s player and his wife on Twitter after some imagined slight during a game between the two teams on Saturday. Some of the tweets were fairly sexist, likely leading to the apology.

6) Johnny Manziel, the defending Heisman Trophy winner and walking news story, is now being investigated by the NCAA for possibly taking money for signing autographs at a memorabilia show back in January. That could put a serious damper on Texas A&M’s upcoming season.

7) Miami Marlins pitcher Chad Qualls probably did not have this in mind when he tried to celebrate a strikeout against the Mets on Tuesday. Check it out.

Good sports:

1) Tiger Woods will need to win one of golf’s majors to truly be “back,” but in regular tournaments, he is looking more and more like the Tiger of old. On Friday at the Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio, he shot a course-record 61. He won the tournament by finishing 15-under par, 7 strokes better than second place.

2) U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin, competing in the World Championships in Spain, won six gold medals during the games, topping it off with a win in the 400-meter relay on Sunday night.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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2 Responses to “Bad sports, good sports: Riley Cooper, racism, and the dynamic of instantaneous reaction”

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your perspective on Cooper, Alan. Well said.

  2. Thanks Chris. I appreciate you reading the column.

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