Saturday, August 16, 2008

SPORTS: Sorry for What, Exactly?

You've seen the pictures of the Spanish national men's basketball team proving you can be collectively stupid. They are using their fingers to 'slant there eyes' as a way of saying we're going to China for the Olympics.

The furor since, bad as it is, will quiet down before erupting in the opening week of the NBA season. That's when the players who play IN the NBA will find that those that are quick to offend, carry long memories. Protests are guaranteed here in Toronto, where Jose Calderon will be asked to apologize again. In L.A., Pau Gasol will have to do the same (and yes, my first reaction to what I was going to write was 'kowtow'). His brother Marc might escape too much scrutiny in Memphis, more for not being a well-known star, than for not being complicit.

It all comes down to the apology. Only one of which I have read. It comes from Calderon's own blog. I went to look it up again today, and couldn't find it. But the gist of the apology falls into one of the three categories of apologies.

The first apology, uttered by twits like The West Coast Smirk of the Lakers, is the lawyer-written apology. It's insincere and legally-c0nstructed and frequently written by said lawyers. Phony as a three-dollar bill.

The third apology is the heart-felt, I'm guilty and sorry beyond all belief, mea culpa. It's usually uttered by people who understand they've done wrong and are genuinely sorry for what has happened, even if it isn't all their fault. Takes these kind of people a long time to get over whatever (frequently minor) transgression they've made.

Calderon's falls into the second category. The apology for YOU, the other party, taking offence at something that was not meant to offend. "Look I didn't mean to offend, but since you ARE offended, I apologize," is the usual form of the apology. The issuer of these kind of apologies are usually honestly surprised that what they did offended others. And the apology is close, real close to being heartfelt. But there's a little bit (or sometimes a bigger bit), that says, Jeez, gimme a break. It's not like I insulted your mother or punched you in the nose.

I have, on occasion, used terms that people COULD take offence to. I HAVE told a Newfie joke or two in my time, claiming half-Newfie parentage as my defence. It's always been considered allowable to make dumb jokes about your own ethnic heritage. Or should it be? I know one resident of the island didn't particularly care to be labeled stupid and told me so. I stopped telling Newfie jokes.

Calderon strikes me as an exemplary young man. He's the kind of guy you want your daughter to bring home. And it's not because he's making millions playing roundball. He's a gentleman who just happens to have participated in a group mind melt. Having made a type two apology, he's going to find he's going to have to do it over again.

And again, and again.

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