I’m a lifelong sports fan. I love to play sports, I enjoy watching them, and I enjoy talking about them. I do watch ESPN, and I do listen to sports radio, but as sports “journalism” and sports talk in general continue to move closer to soap opera-level melodrama, it becomes increasingly difficult to tune in.
The latest tabloid hit is the incident between D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young, teammates on the (blah) Los Angeles Lakers, in which Russell recorded and then leaked a video of Nick Young talking about various women apart from his fiancee. I have no interest in watching that video, so I can’t speak to any of the specifics of what he said, but that is beyond the scope of my interest here anyway. In fact, I am not even really concerned about either Russell or Young. What has been most intriguing and horrifying to me has nothing to do with either one of these guys, but with the media reaction to the incident.
Again and again–without exception–I have listened to talking head after talking head talk about the pariah that D’Angelo Russell has become. How in the world could a guy betray the confidentiality of the locker room, that O so sacred sanctuary of the sports world? How could he betray his teammate and leak secrets from a teammates private life? Who in the world would ever want to play with a guy who would sink so low and do something so unspeakable wretched?
Notice what is being implied by the sports media (filled with former players) in all of this: Every player is doing this. Committed relationship (girlfriend, fiancee, wife) or not–everyone is in on this. I have heard something referred to as the “bro code” come up multiple times, which basically says that whatever the players do out there on the road, in the clubs, in the locker rooms, or anywhere else should stay in those places. No one should have to bear the consequences for their actions. Nobody should talk about it, and certainly no one should go and tattle to the significant women in these guys lives.
In other words, the guy who committed the unpardonable sin against all guys everywhere was not Young who was fooling around behind his fiancee’s back. It was Russell, who more or less told on the guy who who was fooling around. He broke the “bro code,” which is the ultimate unforgivable sin among “bros” everywhere.
A “major sports story” went down this past week, and the outrage has had nothing to do with a guy cheating on his fiancee. It’s been about a guy who dare to break the bro code.
What have we become as a society? And what are we becoming?