Topic: Sports & Entertainment
The Ethics of Quitting, Part II
Terrell Owens, the star Philadelphia wide-receiver, has now been suspended and shelved for the rest of the pro football season for making good on his promise to punish the team with constant disruptions if they refused to renegotiate his already rich contract. Owens’ latest assault consisted of publicly trashing his team’s quarterback, Donovan McNabb, which during an NFL season is the equivalent of a military officer releasing statements during wartime that his general is a clod.
In the army, this gets you a court martial. It remains to be seen if the result in the NFL is another team giving T.O., as he is called (Trouble Organizer? Terribly Obnoxious? Team Offal?), all the money he wants, thus branding the athlete’s unforgivable conduct as a promising strategy for extorting concessions from employers. If so, that team is hereby on notice that a Scoreboard Ethics Dunce award will be arriving shortly thereafter. Public unethical tactics must not be seen as being successful, or they will spread. The best result for the NFL, professional sports and the national culture would be for Terrell Owens to be Totally Out of work.
Meanwhile, shock-jock Howard Stern’s soon-to-be-ex employers, Infinity Broadcasting, suspended the inexplicably popular radio personality for a grand total of one day after he incessantly promoted on the air his already much-publicized move to Sirius Satellite Radio next year. Wow, Infinity, one whole day that will teach him! What Stern did is the equivalent of a Ford executive in his final weeks before moving to a more lucrative position at Toyota going on TV to cry, “Buy Japanese!” Such behavior would certainly promote a rapid security escort for the executive out of his office onto the street, which is why most industries spare employees who announce that they are jumping ship to a competitor the temptation to pull such stunts by relieving them of their responsibilities immediately.
But Infinity has ad minutes to sell, and can sell them much more dearly when Stern is their product don’t ask me why. (Stern is routinely described in the industry press as “brilliant,” despite the fact that his show consists almost entirely of brain-numbing interviews with pathetic strippers and porno actresses or Howard asking “cool” celebrities about their experiences with anal sex and urinating in the shower. If this is “brilliant,” what, pray, is “crude and moronic”?) So since his contract with the dreaded satellite competitor was announced, Infinity has allowed Stern to continue polluting the airwaves under its banner. Stern, true to character, has displayed all the gratitude, loyalty, and fairness of Benedict Arnold. Needless to say, Infinity should have fired him, and filled his remaining shows with, oh, I don’t know maybe former Jerry Springer guests who could finally reveal what they really said to their relatives and best friends who were secretly sleeping with the guests’ spouses before the show bleeped out the obscenities and curse words. Brilliant!
Stern’s spokesman claimed that even the suspension was excessive, declaring that Infinity’s discipline “was an act of desperation by men who are losing their once-in-a-lifetime franchise.” No, it was an act of impotence and weakness when an act of outrage and punishment for disloyal conduct was required.