A Sorry Excuse for an Apology
By now, you’ve probably heard the news that Bulls’ rookie Tyrus Thomas made some disparaging remarks about participating in the dunk contest during All-Star Weekend, essentially declaring that he’s in it for the money.
And you may or may not have heard the word that the NBA is now considering replacing Thomas in the dunk contest in the wake of his choice words.
You also may have caught wind that Thomas issued an apology through his agents, and it’s this that I want to stop and focus on for a second.
Because while Thomas hating on the game and hating on an event (the dunk contest) that has clearly lost some of its clout but remains a reasonably big deal to a ton of pro hoops fans is kind of infuriating, on this particular day and at this particular moment the practice of someone else issuing an apology for you comes across as decidedly absurd.
Here’s what Tyrus Thomas (through his agents) said to apologize:
“I truly feel honored to be invited to participate in this year's slam dunk contest during next week's NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. The opportunity to represent the Bulls and the city of Chicago on a global stage is a privilege that I do not take lightly. I regret the extent to which my comments indicate otherwise.”
And here’s why this is stupid:
Because there’s no way in hell Tyrus Thomas actually said anything close to that.
Not to presume anything about the way Thomas speaks – I confess to not having ever heard him talk that I can recall – but the fact is, this quote is not phrased like spoken English. It’s too perfect; the sentences are constructed too carefully to have been said out loud without any fumbled or unnecessary words. This is written English.
And since someone else read it for him, having a decent amount of common knowledge about how much work sports agents do for their clients, we have to assume that someone else wrote it for him too.
Is anything stated in the previous paragraph groundbreaking? No.
And that’s just the thing. We’ve become so accustomed to this process that we blindly accept it, but when you stop to think about it, it’s absurd.
Why is it acceptable, or remotely necessary, for someone else to apologize for you? When a 10-year-old kid kicks another child in the groin or smashes an unsuspecting individual’s Lego structure, his teachers or parents almost without fail make him go apologize to the other kid face-to-face. He is not allowed to send his older brother or one of his friends as a proxy. He has to make the apology himself. It’s pretty much one of the most basic unwritten principles that our society has – if you do something wrong, you’re supposed to at the very least apologize for it (if not pay the other person lots of money and/or spend five to seven years in the pokey).
So why can’t Tyrus Thomas (representative of the hundreds or thousands of athletes who have apologies made for them on a yearly basis) stand in front of reporters and personally own up to his mistake if he sincerely means that the opportunity to represent the Bulls and the city of Chicago on a global stage is a privilege that he doesn’t take lightly?
The NBA clearly wants its young players to be as mature as possible, as evidenced by the age limit on incoming players.
So it might be a good idea to stop infantilizing them once they are in the league.
And while we’re on the subject of extreme distaste and irritation, let’s pass the conch shell over to the Broken Cowboy, who’s got a potent rant on the topic of religion in sports. Take it away.