When Ohio State suspended football coach Urban Meyer, along with athletic director Gene Smith for the first three games of this season for mishandling domestic assault allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith, the school held a press conference on Wednesday night that was at best a half-assed attempt to put the whole scandal in the past, learn as little as possible, and move on with the real business of the university, which is winning football games and occasionally sending former assistant wrestling coaches to Congress to be embroiled in scandals about not blowing the whistle on sexual abuse years ago.
Gerry DiNardo, the former Notre Dame All-American lineman and coach of Vanderbilt, LSU, and Indiana, may have put it best in his commentary on the Big Ten Network, lambasting everyone involved.
“For the president of the university, the athletic director of the university, and the head football coach to have a press conference and no one to address the issue of domestic violence, until the end when Urban was asked a question, I was disappointed,” DiNardo said, as helpfully transcribed by The Athletic’s Chris Vannini. “I always feel that distractions and crises are a chance for all of us to grow. The bigger the crisis, the bigger the distraction, the bigger the progress. And yet if you came from another country and watched this press conference, you wouldn’t know the origin of this was about domestic violence.”
It’s pretty terrible, but that’s college athletics, where internal investigations often result in outcomes designed to do as little damage as possible to the bottom line of the athletic department, especially when it comes to a big-time football program. In professional sports, there are league policies, and teams must tread lightly to avoid alienating their fan base, and… uh…
Osuna was suspended for 75 games this season over a domestic violence incident for which charges are still pending against him in Toronto. The Astros, defending world champions and with a supposed zero-tolerance policy for such things, traded for him in July and this month decided he would be their closer for the rest of the year.
But note that the Paper City Magazine column said got tougher to be an Astros fan, not impossible to be one. The Astros blogger Jeff Blogwell at Astros County wrote as part of a long piece on the deal about assuaging some guilt over rooting for a team with a horrible human being on it by giving to charity – in this case, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse and Houston Area Women’s Center.
This has become, frustratingly, somewhat familiar, as while some fans might cut a team out of their lives over a controversial acquisition, most will go along with it and try to focus on the other 24 players on the roster. The Chicago Cubs traded for noted homophobe Daniel Murphy this week, and it was easy to know what to do – donate to the Howard Brown Health Center, an LGBT-focused clinic within walking distance of Wrigley Field – because Cubs fans have been through this before.
Seeing a chance to break their 108-year World Series drought back in 2016, the Cubs traded for Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, banned earlier that year for his domestic violence incident, and fans sprung into action then, with one online fundraiser alone racking up $38,670 for the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic in Chicago.
This is not feel-good stuff, the same way that it shouldn’t really be heartwarming when a 6-year-old is setting up a lemonade stand to help her mom afford chemotherapy. But that’s the world we live in, where we don’t have a health care system that actually takes care of people, and our favorite sports teams let us down constantly by employing awful people if they believe they can help win a few ballgames.
Or they could be the Mets and keep running Jose Reyes and his .202 batting average out there for some reason.