Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Taken With a Grain of Rice

This week we have all been reintroduced to the Ray Rice assault story as a new video from the hotel elevator has leaked.  The video shows Rice gruesomely punching his fiancee in the face with a left cross and knocking her out.  Allegedly, in reaction to the video the Ravens decided to cut Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.  I don't know if we will ever know if the NFL saw the video before this or not, but that is not what I want to talk about anyway.  I don't even want to talk about Ray Rice.  Whatever happens to him is probably deserved, and I agree a much harsher penalty than a two game suspension was warranted.  However, I want to talk about what has become of the media and people in general.  Dangerous thinking for a sports blog, I know, but we have to consider where we are getting are information from before we believe it as iron-clad and 100% accurate.

Just this week, we have seen the media and fans grab hold of two stories that are really bothering me.  The first is of course the Ray Rice video; and the second is this story about LeSean McCoy only tipping 20 cents on a 60 dollar restaurant bill.  These stories are far apart in terms of gravity, but both have elicited similar reactions from people.  These stories lead us as fans and human beings to judge these people from afar, without knowing the entire story.  I can't count the number of people that I have seen on facebook and other outlets thinking that they know the whole story and making demands of the people involved based on their perspective.  These stories somehow make us feel better about ourselves.  The media spits out some shred of negativity, and we automatically feel like we are the jury in this person's trial.  In reality, none of us are really much better than Shady McCoy or even Ray Rice.  But because their ordeals were caught on tape, we automatically are allowed to tear them down and judge them.  If my worst moments in life were caught on tape without giving me the chance for any explanation, I would probably be condemned by the media and social media as well.  I'm not saying Ray Rice is innocent, or that the NFL is without blame.  I'm saying who are we to think that we know everything about these people, and have any right to make a judgement of them?  Let's take a step back, people.

Furthermore, let's take a good look at how these stories are coming about.  The number one reporter of all of these things: TMZ.  If I may ignore my own advice from the prior paragraph and play armchair quarterback for a minute or two; I would like to take a look at just what TMZ does that is of any substance.  TMZ seemingly exists to slander people.  In the name of clicks, ratings, and money, they try to get their hands on any bit of damning material involving celebrities that they can.  Rightfully or not, they have ruined people's lives with this material.  They do not respect anybody's privacy and, from what I have seen, rarely display anybody in a positive light.  These are the folks we can thank for the Ray Rice video.  Do you think they went to any effort to find out what caused these actions by Rice?  Doubtful.  They just got their hands on the most salacious parts of the video and ran with it.  Shocking videos sell.  How about when Riley Cooper went on that racist tirade last year?  Did they try and find out what happened before or after that?  Haven't seen a thing.  Yet these are the people we trust as our source for breaking news and information.  For me, regardless of what video they manage to find, I don't find them any better than the people they are portraying.

Maybe this is the age that we live in.  Where we would rather find out something criminalizing about somebody than learn something positive.  I'd rather give someone the benefit of the doubt.  For instance, ESPN ran a great story last night about LeSean McCoy; how he suffered a compound fracture of his ankle his senior year of high school, lost almost all of his college scholarships, and worked his way back all the way to where he is now.  He also runs a charity to help people with ALS, a disease he lost his grandmother to.  Moreover, he has a son who he shares custody of and he cares for him Monday through Friday even during the season.  It was a rare great piece of work by ESPN, but not enough to break through the negative spin of him leaving 20 cents as a tip.  People on social media leave comments like "Not surprising, Eagles breed class." without knowing anything more about him than the tip story.  Again, take a step back.  Look at the big picture.

I'm not entirely sure where I am going with this rant; but I think we as people are becoming too quick to judge people, especially on the negative side.  We need to make sure we know who our sources are, look at both sides of the story and make more educated responses to stories like the ones we have experienced this week.  Blindly tearing people down isn't going to help anybody.

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