The Selective Morality of Sports Fans
by John Kincade
Today we discussed the most charged topic of this summer, the fallout from the appearance of Pete Rose at the 1980 Phillies Reunion celebration this weekend. It seemed like there was little actual dialogue on the topic. The Twitter-verse had already decided; Rose is the worst and there is no other discussion point needed. I tend to want to delve into things far deeper, especially when the shout them down crowd gets self righteous. Let me first spell out where I agree and disagree with peoples positions on the matter.
For one, self admittedly, I am a huge fan of Pete Rose the player. He was amazing and the definition of swagger and the straw that stirred the drink. I will also say if you aren’t at least 50 I’m not going to take you seriously if you argue against his impact on the town or team. You didn’t live it, you should sit that one out. I will also admit I find him to be an unrepentant creep. He is crude, callous and unsympathetic. It’s also important to note he was not charged, nor does he have a criminal record as a child molester as some have labeled him. I’ll think of him as a predator and low life, but won’t throw around terms that aren’t appropriate.
We discussed the complicated history of this city with its heroes. Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and others were brought up. To say those two had complicated pasts would be an understatement. The anger and venom seem far less strenuous against those that the locals worship. I understand it. I also don’t just blindly brush it aside.
Then we brought up the elephant in the room, the upcoming 30 year anniversary of the 1993 Phillies NL Championship club. Is Lenny Dykstra going to be welcome? Is Curt Schilling going to be invited to take part? Where do we draw the line on “celebrating” a championship by bring back its very controversial team members? Does a prison sentence disinvite someone? Does who someone supported politically matter? Do Twitter accounts and their content become the measuring stick? Better yet, who gets to be the judge and jury on that?
I tend to always error on the side of second chances, but I’m a big fan of remorse. I haven’t seen it in many of these cases. I also don’t believe that celebrating a team accomplishment has to include having these guests on the team TV broadcasts to give them a forum to further embarrass themselves.
The actions of the current Phillies and Nationals players told the story. They hold Pete Rose the player as a revered figure. None of them are there judging him on other matters. They knew he was there on that field because of him as a player. Fact is, there are many creeps in pro sports that roam locker rooms, front offices and even broadcast booths. In my mind, you can separate team accomplishments from individuals off field actions. Like when I go to the movies, I can respect a great acting performance without respecting the actor.