Saturday, June 24, 2006

Common Cents - Sports Civility

The sports world may be a microcosm of society, but first and foremost, college and professional sports are businesses. We can argue fashion and taste, but role models or not, team representatives from managers to players sell the product.

Businesses want to sell as much product as they can, and garner as much market share as possible. No, you can't sell feminine hygiene products to most of the pro sports demographic, but I'm sure the management would love to have more women there. Offending a woman, minority, Libertarian, or shaman is just bad business.

I don't know the origin of political correctness. Anita Bryant was a second runner-up in the Miss America pageant and pitch person for Florida orange juice. Her opposition to gays got her bounced from the OJ promotional business. Gays drink OJ, too, and Florida orange growers don't oppose them drinking OJ. John Rocker was as much a loose cannon off the field as he was on it, and his Don Rickles act, along with his ineffectiveness, was the beginning of his end.

Toyota, Microsoft, Walmart, and Goldman Sachs want your business, your dollars and yen. Pro and college sports aren't different, selling season tickets, clothing and memorabilia, cruises, and fantasy camps. Teams covet sales and repeat customers, not drug users, paternity suits, or spouse beaters.

Whether ordering a beanball has become an anachronism can be argued, especially for those who remember Tony Conigliaro or Kirby Puckett. Ozzie Guillen didn't sin against a sportwriter. He flamed corporate culture, the culture of courtesy, civility, and customer relations. Baseball can forgive a curse, but it won't forget damaging the heart of the game - cash flow.

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