Privacy and the professional athlete

 

In Lake Tahoe, a casino waitress alleges that a two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback forced himself on her in a hotel room.  In another hotel room elsewhere in the country, someone sneaks a video camera through a keyhole to record a female sportscaster as she strolls around her room.  In Alabama, a reporter asks a former Heisman trophy winner about his sexual behavior.  In Kansas City, a well-respected journalist faults a female tennis champion for being too fat.

 

Somewhere we have crossed the line.

 

In this country, as in many others around the world, we deify the modern athlete, often to a fault.  Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James have become larger than life, their images recognizable worldwide.  Some criticize the professional athlete for not using their status as a tool to speak out on certain issues but often it’s because they don’t want to subject themselves to extra media attention.  It’s bad enough they already live their lives with no privacy and microphones repeatedly jammed in their faces.  It’s surprising that more star athletes don’t become hermits, but such is the price of fame and fortune.

 

ben-roethlisberger-2Last week, Andrea McNulty became the latest to thrust herself into infamy by accusing Ben Roethlisberger of raping her in a Lake Tahoe hotel room over one year ago.  According to McNulty’s testimony, Roethlisberger forced himself on her in a hotel penthouse, yet she never reported the incident for fear of losing her job at a local casino, owned by one of Roethlisberger’s friends.  Roethlisberger has since denied these allegations, calling them “false” and “vicious,” but who’s to know for sure?  Once accusations like this are out there, they’re out there.  Kobe Bryant still has difficulty shaking the incidents of Eagle, Colorado that occurred six years ago.  Mike Tyson served three years in prison for allegedly raping a beauty contestant in 1992, marking the bitter end of an embattled career. 

 

Similarly, the image we hold of Big Ben, Super Bowl champion and one of the faces of the NFL, may be tainted forever.  As if the NFL needed more image problems with the impending return of Michael Vick.  The bottom line is we don’t know what happened in any of those hotel rooms.  The only people who know the truth are the two involved.  We’re left to judge reality based on a jury’s decision or whatever settlement is reached between the two parties.  If Roethlisberger and McNulty do settle out of court, is that an admission of guilt or an effort to avoid any further damage to his image?  Either way, that’s some expensive room service.

 

Once again proving nothing is sacred, someone recently recorded ESPN female sportscaster, Erin Andrews, as she walked around her hotel room naked.  This person’s identity has yet to be revealed.  Instantly, the video became an internet craze as fans and perverts alike scoured every website they could find for a glimpse at the naked Andrews.  I’m all for looking at beautiful women.  In fact, the more the merrier.  But not when it’s against their will or without their knowing.  Can we get a reality check and then find out who recorded Andrews so HE can face the court of public opinion for his actions?  As retribution, I’d suggest filming him naked and putting that on the internet.  I’m just not sure he’d have the same following.

 

In a week that’s supposed to celebrate the upcoming football season, one ‘journalist’ had the nerve to ask Florida Gators QB Tim Tebow, not about returning for his senior season or his quest for a third national championship, but rather about…  his sex life.  Is that really a football question?  Can we not revoke this person’s media credentials?  Tebow is the face of college football.  Shouldn’t his private life remain exactly that?  For that matter, shouldn’t everyone’s?  Since when is an athlete’s sex life a matter of public record?  The Tony Romo/Jessica Simpson, Tom Brady/Giselle Bunchen, Tony Parker/Eva Longoria and David Beckham/Posh Spice romances have become tabloid material over which media and paparazzi salivate.  Personally, I’d much rather read post-game analysis than a report on who’s zoomin’ who.  I know sex sells, but so does football.  Let’s keep it that way. 

 

jason-whitlockTo top it all off, in a recent FoxSports.com article, well-respected, journalist (at least until now) Jason Whitlock, in an apparent effort to ruffle some feathers, did exactly that.  Shortly after Serena Williams won Wimbledon, her 11th major championship, Whitlock criticized Williams for her lack of will to win, attributing it to her “oversized back pack.”  Yes, that’s right.  He referred to her derriere in the article. Whitlock goes on to write Serena can’t “fill out her size 16 shorts without grazing at her stall between matches.”  Did Whitlock at least think twice before proffering something like that?  It’s groundbreaking journalism like this that encourages bloggers to speak their mind. 

 

Since when is it appropriate to discuss a woman’s weight at all, never mind make it a matter of public record?  In the article, Whitlock questioned Serena’s determination, calling her an underachiever.  Might not her will to become the best tennis player ever have less to do with her weight and more to do with the fact that she’s often competing against her sister?  Not exactly duel to the death material.  It’s not like Venus Williams is an easy out either.  If Serena’s heart is more into fashion than it is her sport, that’s perfectly okay.  It’s not for us to decide. 

 

Certain athletes like Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson want to let you into their personal lives.  T.O. has a new (and rather unwatchable) reality television show.  Ocho Cinco has been tweeting like a madman, updating his fans on his workouts and whereabouts.  Unfortunately for Owens and Ocho, no one’s interested.  Other athletes, however, would rather keep their personal lives private.

 

Again, somewhere we have crossed the line.  Just like you or I, the professional athlete has a right to privacy that should be respected.  Rape accusations are serious business.  If Roethlisberger is guilty, then he deserves to rot.  Likewise, if McNulty is making it up, then she deserves the same.  Other than being publicly ridiculed, what’s to prevent anyone from accusing a high-profile professional athlete of wrongdoing?  The rewards of a huge monetary settlement often outweigh the risk.  We will never know what went on in that hotel room.  We are left only to assume.

 

What kind of human being records a woman without her consent and then releases it for public consumption?  With one man on the verge of doing something never before accomplished in college football, we’re more curious about his activity, or inactivity, in the bedroom?  How is a woman’s weight newsworthy and what does it have to do with her will to win?

 

There’s an understood line that should not be crossed by fans or media.  Remember that the next time someone goes rummaging through your belongings, judges you or reveals one of your most intimate secrets.  And we wonder why more athletes don’t stop for autographs or interviews.  In all honesty, would you?

 

Stay classy, people.   

64 thoughts on “Privacy and the professional athlete

  1. Too bad Big Ben wasn’t staying in the same room that Erin had previously.

    We would have video evidence of the allegation.

    Good story, Rev.

    Whitlock writes just for shock value. He gets thousands of hits and comments by writing something outlandish, the rubes eat it up, and he shows his bosses at Fox how important he is with all the traffic his posts get.

  2. Good point, Han. I was actually gonna write a post proposing some sort of pre-nup athletes and stars can carry around to get their groupies to sign promising they won’t sue for improprieties at a later date. I think I’m onto something.

    Y’know, I used to at least somewhat dig Whitlock, understanding that that was what he is all about. I’m okay with someone trying to make a name for himself, even if it’s in a somewhat sleazy way. But that piece on Serena was in really poor taste.

  3. An athlete has a right to privacy… up to a certain point. I agree the Tebow question and the Whitlock idiocy are examples of crossing the line but a professional athlete expects that his/her will be scrutinized from the moment they wakes up to the moment they go to bed and then some.. The viewing public pays these athletes quite a bit of money and rightfully demands a return on that investment. Name one professional athlete that you have ever discussed and not discussed a member of his/her family, their hobbies, their love interests? Very difficult to do.. Personal lives make up a significant portion of an athlete’s aura. They are paid a lot of money to suck it up and suck it up they should.

  4. Donny C… I agree to an extent. Just because athletes earn a pretty penny doesn’t mean we own them or that they’re afforded any less rights than anyone else. Just because they’re talented in their particular field doesn’t mean they have sold their souls.

    While we may discuss their personal lives in random conversation, Andrews, Serena and Tebow didn’t deserve the public scrutiny they just experienced.

  5. Chris

    It no longer becomes a privacy issue when an alleged crime has been comitted. Furthermore , Roethlisberger in his prepared statement states that he’ll fully defend himself against the claims made by Andrea McNulty.

    What he’s failed to indicate however, is whether or not an incident did take place in his hotel room and what form it took.

    It’s not an open and shut case as many believe the issue to be . Does anyone remember what took place with Kobe Bryant in Eagle, Co, . And in particular the way he went about defending himself ? Were it not for the stupidity and navivete’ of the then allegesd victim. Bryant would’ve ended up doing time , to be sure. But there the victim did herself no favors by going off and then having consensual sex with someone else within 48 hours after her claim that she’d been raped.

    Here McNulty’s faux-pas was the fact she failed to report the assault.

    Roethlisberger can expect no privacy the moment he’s in the public domain as a professional athlete. It’s all part and parcel of the game and professional sports in general. Afterall , he’s become the face of the Steelers’ franchise. Every move he makes is made under close scrutiny of the microscope of the public glare. What else did he expect ?
    This ain’t Pop Warner football. And in college , though he was playing with Miami of Ohio, there it mightn’t have been all that glaring. There was still the press watching him in some form or another.

    Alan Parkins

  6. With today’s media, you have to hope Tebow IS STILL a virgin! I guarantee you the media already have their investigative reporters digging for some dirt. Every girl he has ever done anything with will be probed (no pun intended) for information to see if they ever did the deed! Isn’t that how it works today? Find dirt on the hero and take him down! So sad. I’m a Bulldog but a big Tebow fan.
    Dan
    Dan

  7. Chris

    In this day and age does Whitlock have anything valid to say as a sport’s journalist , much less as a journalist ? In many ways he reminds me of former Klan member David Duke . There’s an insipid hatred that’s there, that belies anything that’s viewed as being ordinary.

    Alan Parkins

  8. Are horrifying fishing stories crossing the line? 🙂
    Great post. Couldn’t agree more.
    But I’m still confused about the “keyhole” thing cause most hotels today use “cards” instead of “keys” … so that one confuses me still?

  9. Chris

    Dropped this as of today. I’ve been watching these guys witha great deal of admiration all season long.

    Hitting Is An Art Form And The Art Is In Watching Mauer, Ichiro And Pujols At Work ………….

    There’s a remote possibility that Pujols could end up winning the Triple Crown. That however would be predicated upon the pitchers’ willingness to pitch to Pujols. And in all sincerity I don’t feel that many of ’em will. Especially given the mindset of many of the managers and their philosophy when it comes to the game.

    Alan Parkins ….

  10. Al… I’ll agree the Ben case is extreme and it was difficult to tie it into the piece. But you’re correct, once a player has done something illegal or that harms or affects others, then it’s fair to investigate his personal life. Assuming the allegations are true.

  11. Al… there’s a great blog post I read last night with regards to the Whitlock article. I’ll find the link and post it here or email it to you.

  12. Hey Rev, to answer your question from the other dimension, no I didn’t read Whitlock’s article about Serena. I did read the piece he did on McNair and the boxer that was murdered. I compare what he writes to that of the rantings of a shock jock. All noise and no substance.

    Take care brother.

  13. Chris

    If you note in the statement made by Roethlisberger . He failed to addressed the issue as whether or not an alleged incident had taken place. So there you have it. Who other than himself, is he trying to protect ? You’d have to think that something took place that was definitely unwarranted.

    I’ve always maintained a guy who’s allgedly forcing a woman against her will is not a man at all but a %uc_king coward ! I wonder how Roethlisberger might feel , were it his mom or sister being subjected to such a fate ?

    Alan Parkins

  14. Al… Did he sleep with the woman? He didn’t address that issue.

    Remember, I’m sure his attorneys are advising him to say the fewest words possible so as not to incriminate himself.

  15. Chris

    It’s not going to be Pujols’ problem with regard to the Triple Crown. But whether or not opposing pitchers will be willing at all to pitch to the guy. That’s what’ll ultimately predicate how he’ll fare. Nothing else !

    I’ve just finished this piece on TO and the Bills. And at the same time I’m doing some research on a piece I’ll be writing on the Federal suit that all four major sports are bringing against the state of Delaware in trying to stop the state to allow gambling with regard to a sports book. Personally , I don’t feel that it’s up to them to determine how a state attains its revenues. It’s a state matter and not something that’ll deprive any of them a darn thing !

    Should We At All Be Suprised ……..

    The above piece is on TO and the Bills.

    Here are links to NFL suit that’s at the heart of the matter.

    Sports Betting Lawsuit, Unlikely To Win Say Gambling Law Experts ……

    Gov. Markell releases statement on sports gambling lawsuit ……….

    And even former NFL player Heath Shuler has come out in opposition to Delaware’s proposal.

    Shuler, other congressmen, oppose sports gambling Delaware, New Jersey ……….

    The four major governing sports’ bodies should in no way be allowed to have their cake and it eat ! It’s hypocritical to begin with !

    Alan Parkins

  16. Chris

    Sleep , sex , call it what you will . Either it’s the rantings of a woman scorned. Or in-fact a woman who was actually violated .

    Roethlisberger is skating on thin ice either way !

    And off-course his attorneys’ll make sure he’ll do and say the right things. They’ll now have him kissing babies and helping old women across the street.

    As a matter of fact don’t be surprised if he’s doing ads for MAAD and stuff of that ilk.

    When he had the motorcycle accident . Did it ever cross anyone’s mind that he might’ve been over the limit ? No one really said anything with regard to that. Other than it was a horrible accident at the time.


    Alan Parkins

  17. Chris

    I read the piece and Whitlock is a friggin’ tool ! What research if any that he does , probably borders on the fact that he’s mastu_bating whilst he’s doing it.
    He can’t come up with anything bordering making any actual sense.

    He seems to forget that Graf, Margaret Court, Yvonne Goolagong were about the same age as Serena when they were assaulting the record books. WTF does he actually know about anything resembling sports much less any social issue regarding sports ? Like I said he and David Duke have a great deal in common.

    Perhaps we could have them share a Brokeback moment together ?

    Alan Parkins ……..

  18. Al… Call me old school but I think pitching around a batter like that is a cop-out. I also think that a manager who calls for a walk on a hitter, unless the game situation calls for it, is just weak.

    You’re gonna tell me you don’t have enough faith in your starting pitcher to go after someone like Pujols with two outs and no one on? That’s no disrespect to Pujols. That’s disrespect to a major league pitcher that should be able to get this guy out.

  19. Al…. sounds like you’ve already made your mind up about Big Ben?

    Even if charges are dropped and he’s essentially proven innocent out of court, is your mind already made up?

    And yes… I can’t believe that Whitlock article made press.

  20. Chris

    Now being placed in a position where I’m now working alongside attorneys. Albeit that I’m not in the criminal side of it all. I’ve consulted with many of those on the criminal side. And they’ve assured me that there’s more to this than meets the eye.

    It doesn’t take a fool to see it either for that matter. The same way in with which I could deduce that Bryant was a pu_ssy to begin with , with regard to the Eagle, Co, incident. So what say you , now concerning Roethlisberger ? It’s clear that something untoward happened. But as I said in my piece it’ll become a matter of he said , she said .

    Ben and his lawyers are merely skirting around the appropriate legal parameters without endangering themselves. It’s not a matter of making my mind up. But clearly analyzing what’s being said and the parameters of the law and this case as it appears to be. I’ve taken absolutely nothing for granted in this at all !

    Just like Plax’s lawyer Benajamin Brafman is now looking to make a mockery of what NY , DA Morgenthau said concerning his client. Morgentahu is merely stating the facts of the case and that he’s within his right to seek a sentence of the defendant should be proven to be found guilty. WTF is wrong with that to begin with ?

    I know that the parameters of corporate and criminal law are entirely different. But the tenets are still very much the same wouldn’t you say.

    As for the situation concerning Pujols. It will happen in certain instances. And that’ll be to the detriment of the game.

    Alan Parkins

  21. Chris

    As I said concerning Whitlock. WTF is worthwhile reading about any of his pieces to begin with ? If that’s the avenue that Fox chooses and then deems it to be of journalistic merit. Then one can understand the reason why so many choose no longer to be a part of that community to begin with. It’s all bullsh_t !

    Journalism in any form is first and foremost meant to inform. Here all you’re getting from Whitlock are his opinions. Albeit that it’s meant to be op-ed. But there’s no basis in fact with anything he’s stating. The guy is an a_ss !

    Alan Parkins

  22. Well, for one it’s a shame we have to talk about this other than sports.

    I’m reserving judgment on the Roethlisberger case. That organization has been so squeaky clean for so long, this will really throw them for a loop.

    Oh… and Plax will be serving time.

  23. Dude, you’ve misinterpreted my comments. Simply saying that a professional athlete should expect considerable scrutiny in their lives. Par for the course…

  24. Chris

    It’s quite alright to reserve judgement on the matter. But at the same time I look at Roethlisberger’s actions. And from the outside looking in. It’s plain to see that the guy has something to hide. Be it that he acted appropriately or not. He now knows that his image as it now stands hinders on a matter that we wouldn’t normally associate with a guy of his stature.

    Can you imagine if the same allegations had been made against Tebow ? I’d dare say that there’d be an outcry inside the Gator Nation !

    Alan Parkins

  25. Donny C… misinterpret your comments?

    That’s easy to do when you have a drink next to your mouth all the time? You’d probably be even harder to understand if you were almost a midget.

  26. Chris

    Off-course there’d be no outcry there. But what if Timmy came out of the closet ? What then ? Now who’d be crying foul and running for the hills ?

    I can imagine the smiles on the faces of Adam Lambert and Clay Aiken the moment the announcement is made. Hmm he’s one of us ? Toss salad I think ! LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    I can see it all now. Urban Meyer blaming his predecessor. And Gators’ President Bernie Machen sh__ing bricks. As the goose that laid the golden egg comes out of the closet.

    Becareful what you wish for , that’s all I’ve got to say on the subject !

    The Miseducation Of Drew Gooden And Other Such Idiocies And Then Some !

    Alan Parkins

  27. Chris

    I’m really bummed that Tiffany Michelle won’t be at the main table when the WSOP resumes. That chick is hit !

    Tiffany Michelle montage ….

    I’m mid-way through that piece I’m doing on the four major professional sports’ bodies and the NCAA looking to challenge Delaware’s and New Jersey’s rights to make sport’s book wagering legal within their respective states.

    I think it’s asinine for them to be challenging something that they’re making law within their respective jursdictions to begin with.

    It’s not as if they don’t stand to profit from it all as well. It raises the profile of their sport as well as the overall interest. But I doubt I’m missing something in the midst of this all. And don’t for one minute think that the so call increase in violence is a basis for a sound argument to be made. It’s mute !

    Alan Parkins ……..

  28. Chris

    Look it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference , were the Mavs to sign Marlo Thomas instead of Tim Thomas. They’re still going to stink up the joint come the postseason. The team is old and decrepit.

    I believe that they’ve only got three player under the age of thirty as it is. So that should be enough to tell you as such, the direction they’re going in.

    They may not legalize gambling in California. But more often than they tend to be at the forefront of the changes the country all too often sees. As to what Delawre and NJ are trying to do. I think it hypocritical what the four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA are trying to do. Especially given their tie-ins with the gaming industry as it is.

    Having One’s Cake And Eating It Who Says There’s No Collusion In Sports ?

    Above is a link to a piece I’ve just completed. Let me know what you think as to the merits of the piece ? As and when you’re ready I’ll look forward to reading your comments.


    Alan Parkins

  29. Chris

    So what’s this about Kim Kardashian and Reggie splitting up ? Don’t tell me you’re going go in for the kill ?

    Ain’t nothin’ like a dumb chick to make a jock realize what’s good for them.

    If the Rays lose tonight then they can kiss the playoffs goodbye.
    And all this talk about trading Kazmir. Why the hell would the Angels want him ?
    The guy’s a middling neurotic who can’t even find the plate were he using state of the weaponry supplied by Raytheon. That’s how bad he’s become.

    Alan Parkins

  30. Chris

    I watched ESPN’s E60 tonight. It was a terrific episode. It had a segment on the Titans’ Vince Young and the father son relationship he had with Steve McNair.

    Also there was a piece on Aussie LPGA golfer Anna Rawson. She’s been called the LPGA’s answer to Anna Kournikova.

    Check this pic’ out just to see what I’m talking about.

    Anna Rawson

    Alan Parkins ….

  31. Great article, Chris. I couldn’t agree more! Keep
    your insightful columns coming.

    Jim Reese

  32. Jim… As always, thanks for your kind words of support.

    They mean a whole heckuva lot.

    I’ll be dogsitting for mom all next week. You guys should swing by.

  33. Chris

    If you think the Kardashian Bush took a downward turn. Now be on the lookout for Bush’s former USC teammate Matt Leinart
    to now take a similart turn for the worse or better . Dependent upon one’s view of the matter.

    He’s now said to be with that sk_ank Paris Hilton . Two peas in a pod. Dumber and even Dumber ! Did he actually graduate from USC with anything even amounting to a degree ?

    Now this is what real journalism is meant to be about and not purile drivel or opinions being espoused by Whitlock. Hence the reason why I prefer the likes of the Detroit Press’ Drew Sharp. And ESPN’s Michael Smith and JA Adande. These who guys who express themselves with clarity and are informative at the same time. Unlike that a__hole Whitlock !

    Here’s commentary piece in today’s edition of USAToday.

    NFL sheriff Goodell’s hands tied by player’s sins

    Is it me or is Michael Phelps’ swimming coach now coming off like a whining bi_ch ? To suggest that because Phelps’ loss in the 200m butterfly at the World Championships was because the winner , the Germans named Biederman wore a polyeurathane suit was unfair. To me it smacks of idiocy on both their parts. Especially with the coach now saying that Phelps’ll sit out the remainder of the championships. What an a__hole !

    At the Bejiing Olympics the competitors were all said to be wearing either LZR suits or the ones made by Speedo or Nike or Adidas. But I guess if Michael’s not smoking his opponents in the pool. It’s a good thing when he’s smoking something else out of it and at the same time chasing down some tail ?

    Alan Parkins

  34. It’s amazing that neither Bush, Leinart or Vince Young amounted to anything in the NFL after what they did in college.

    After rereading that Whitlock piece, I have no idea why he compared Hilton to Williams. It just makes no sense. But then again, neither does he.

  35. Chris

    I’ve always maintained that as far as the skilled positions are concerned. If you can’t make an immediate impact within the first 5 years. Then you’re not going to cut it in the NFL.

    And that’s what we’ve seen with Young , Leinart and to a lesser extent Bush. That being said I think in Bush’s case having to share the load with Deuce diminished his profile. And at the same time management there in New Orleans were really unsure as to how best to utilize him to begin with.

    Nothing that Whitlock opines about ever makes sense to begin with. You of all people ought to know that. Hell you’d get more sense out of reading The Cat In The Hat by Theodore Geisel .

    Alan Parkins ….

  36. Hmmmmm…. thinking about that.

    My only exception to that rule would be if you’re behind a better player on the bench. Steve Young comes to mind.

    And we’ll see what happens with Matt Cassell.

  37. Chris…..I appreciate the fact that you’re not the kind of guy who says “She asked for it.” or the kind of reporter who thinks “sex sells” or either thinks it, but doesn’t use it to get readers to pay him attention. You’re blessed with the record-breaking weeks for your good intentions.

  38. Ath… It’s funny that you mention that.

    I was listening to some sports radio the other day and the show host basically insinuated that Andrews walked around the room combing her hair as if she knew was going on, as if she knew she was being recorded.

    I’m still not sure how to reply to that.

    As always, thanks for reading.

  39. Chris,
    Nice job with your article. Thgis is the way to give out the news. Super job. Keep them coming.

  40. Pingback: Sports Chump » Sex scandals in sports: Ben Roethlisberger, Tiger Woods, Rick Pitino, TMZ and who is taking all these pictures?

  41. Anna Kournikova is one of the sexiest russian tennis players i have ever seen. Russian tennis players are really pretty eh.,’*

  42. Riley… don’t you think you should be more concerned about your future career in the NFL rather than Kournikova?

    Besides, I hear she likes hockey players more.

  43. I permanently wanted to write on my site something like that. but I dont know how to start , I am so lucky found your blog site!2

  44. Pingback: Sports Chump » Book Review: The Swinger by Michael Bamberger and Alan Shipnuck

  45. Athlete are filmed naked against their will, so I don’t feel sorry for Erin Andrews. Now she knows how the athletes feel.

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