Have I got your attention? Good. Because I think it needs to be said louder for the people in the back. Sports do not fucking matter.
Author’s Note: I find it especially important to stress that the views expressed in this article are my own. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Turf as a business, or more specifically, its authors. I say this because The Turf is a community of people I respect and love. As the Managing Editor for the site, I feel it’s my duty to ensure that their points of view and opinions are protected and celebrated, regardless of my own thoughts on the matter.
UPDATE: Houston Astros owner Jim Crane sent Stephanie Apstein a letter retracting the original Astros post and saying, “we were wrong.” This article has been edited below to comment.
“But Ned, who the fuck are you?”
Great question. I’m a nobody, plain and simple. I do pop up periodically to remind everyone that sports can be unbelievably toxic. And yes I recognize the irony of writing this as the Managing Editor of a sports journalism website I helped to found and posting it on that very site. But I think that’s why I’m representative of this situation. You see I love sports. From the time I was very young I idolized sports stars, I follow my teams religiously, I played sports up until I finished high school, I care deeply about sports. And you know what?
They don’t fucking matter.
They don’t. Sports exist as entertainment, and to fill a void created by a not completely formed sense of self. They give an outlet to the competitive nature of humanity, and create a quick hit conversation piece on people we meet where we have nothing more interesting to talk about. Sports also pay a lot of people a lot of money, and they bring a lot of people (myself included) a lot of happiness.
But they don’t fucking matter.
Hey….Hey Ned? What the fuck are you talking about?
Ah, yes. Thank you for pulling me back on point. I’m talking about this fucking debacle:
In case you all missed it, there was a brou-ha-ha with the Astros organization which went something like this. Stephanie Apstein, Sports Illustrated journalist, was in the locker room after the Houston Astros defeated the New York Yankees to head to the World Series. Apstein was wearing a domestic abuse awareness bracelet. Astros Assistant General Manager Brian Taubman saw the bracelet, looked Apstein in the eyes, and proceeded to shout about how glad he was to have a specific Astros player on the team. Specifically, a player who was acquired in a trade while the player was serving a 75 game suspension under accusation of domestic abuse against his then wife.
And then the Astros doubled and tripled down.
If you want a more in-depth recap, head on over to this fantastic play-by-play and analysis by someone who was there. I’ll wait.
*gets a drink of water, and takes a bite of his chicken sandwich.*
Cool, we good? Alright let’s continue.
I want to break down all the ways the Astros were a horrible organization, and a bunch of people let their loyalties to an organization outweigh their humanity:
• The Astros organization put out a statement after the initial reporting as an “attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.”
• After Major League Baseball opened an investigation, the Astros put out two non-apologies, including the following nonsense:
- From then AGM Taubman – “Those that know me know that I am a progressive and charitable member of the community, and a loving and committed husband and father.” And, “I am sorry if anyone was offended by my actions.”
- From Astros owner Jim Crane – “The Astros continue to be committed to using our voice to create awareness and support on the issue of domestic violence.”
• Once the MLB investigation was over, the Astros fired Taubman and completely walked back their scorched earth campaign against Stephanie Apstein including some mind-numbingly dumb quotes from General Manager Jeff Luhnow.
• And the pièce de résistance, this phenomenally stupid moment by Luhnow:
I think most of those things speak for themselves, but let me just quickly say “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my actions” is not the same fucking thing as “I’m sorry for my actions.” Full stop. Saying that you’re sorry someone was upset is pointing out that you’re cool with being a piece of shit, you’re just not cool that being a piece of shit causes a reaction. Fuck you, Taubman.
UPDATE: Astros Owner Jim Crane wrote Stephanie Apstein a letter in which he says that the Astros “were wrong” and that they’ll learn from this experience. The full text is posted below. I would like you all to understand that right now I have typed more words than Jim Crane bothered to have an underling write in an apology letter to Stephanie Apstein. Fuck you, Jim Crane.
Let’s take a quick inward look
If you are an Astros fan, and your instinct is to defend your team, or look to see how this is incorrect, fuck you. You know why? Because sports don’t fucking matter, Stephanie Apstein does.
If your instinct was to say “emotions get high, it was a locker room after a big win!” fuck you. You know why? Because sports don’t fucking matter and people shouldn’t be allowed to raging bags of dick because they’re amped up about a victory.
If you are the Astros and you are asking yourself “how can we spin this so that we come out well?” Fuck you. Don’t spin it. Own it. Fucking own every second of it. Then start a conversation. The season is about to end, you have a long fucking off-season to address this. Address it.
“But Ned, do sports ever fucking matter?”
The list of times when sports do matter is long. But they don’t matter because the sports matter, they matter because of what someone special did with the platform sports gave them.
So what fucking matters?
Humanity. Empathy. Treating people better tomorrow than we did today. Striving to make this world better for as many of the people who walk in it as possible. Standing up against hate. Speaking out against evil.
You know what don’t matter? Sports.
I love the Red Sox, they don’t fucking matter.
I love the Patriots, they don’t fucking matter.
I love the competition, the camaraderie, the fandom, the cheering, and you know what? None of it fucking matters.
But Ned, I watch sports to relax. They’re entertainment, and I don’t care about this political stuff that’s ruining my de-stresser.
Especially fuck you. Too fucking bad. Sports are a platform, and platforms are political. It’s time for culture to stop being a WASP in the 60s, with a stiff upper lip and an amazing penchant for ignoring the horrible things right in front of them. We’re done doing that. Culture is taking a stand and we’re deciding that people matter more than organizations. Individuals matter more than teams.
And actions have fucking consequences.
We’re calling out horrible. And you know who’s fucking horrible right now? The Houston Astros.
If you want sports to matter, hold them to a higher fucking standard.
Stephanie Apstein fucking matters.
Standing up to a sports organization who has time and time again proved they don’t care about you, me, or anything in the way of improving their bottom line fucking matters.
Supporting underrepresented voices and victims of abusers fucking matters.
Fighting back against those who wield financial status as proof of power fucking matters.
What about the Astros? Do they fucking matter?
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