Odds and ends

1) I couldn’t help but be amused by Florida State’s explanation for why it extended Jameis Winston’s suspension from a half to a game this weekend. According to ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi, FSU’s “continuing investigation” revealed that Winston had not been truthful in his original account of the incident last week that merited the suspension. This, FSU announced, caused the university to increase the penalty.

In journalism schools, as I understand it, this is what is known as “a total crock of shit.” FSU would apparently have us believe that in Winston’s initial telling, the university understood only that Winston called for affectionate hugging of members of the opposite sex. And also that the university wasn’t independently aware of what happened based on the approximately seven million tweets from witnesses to Winston’s shenanigans.

Quite appropriately, the original 30-minute suspension was widely mocked and derided as a complete joke. Once it became apparent to the university how badly that punishment was playing in the suddenly highly relevant court of public opinion, FSU changed the suspension. Why it had to come up with BS for having done so remains unclear.

2) ESPN’s report on the Baltimore Ravens’ campaign to misrepresent Ray Rice’s attack on his now wife, Janay Rice, is damning. It makes a compelling case that the organization knew within hours of the attack more or less exactly what transpired and for reasons ranging from their concern with Rice’s playing status to his role as key pitchman for an important Ravens sponsor, they lied. And then once the truth became irrefutable, they lied again.

Ravens’ officials will be speaking today to answer those charges. Good luck to ’em.

3) Is the new Derek Jeter commercial a feel-good affair, or emblematic of a fraud?  I have to punt on answering that for now, but I’ll come back to it. I will say this – the lionization of Jeter itself reflects very basic problems with the way the sports world evaluates character. I don’t think Jeter is a manifestly bad guy at all. He’s very rich, no doubt lives in a very insular world – which the commercial inadvertently highlights – and bears the marks of someone whose life is so defined by material attainment. In other words, the problem with the commercial, for those who think it problematic, has less to do with Jeter specifically than with celebrity culture and what tends to get valued among public figures. In some ways, this isn’t new. Adam Smith was writing about this stuff over 250 years ago.

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