Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.
I thought I’d pop some champagne over the third consecutive year of Sports and Society with a quote from “John Wick” (2014), a film about being so mad someone killed your dog that you kill 77 people and topple the Russian mafia. If that’s not in our wheelhouse, I don’t know what is.
As per usual, I only have 500 words in which to talk to you this week, but I propose a sweet deal for the first column in 135 days: Give me the first 200 words to update you on how Sports and Society will look going forward, and then the last 300 or so will be a rapid-fire digest of some recent sport-and-societal issues. Deal? Deal.
If you just want the information without the pizzazz, yes, Sports and Society will be returning for its third year. However, it will be running once every two weeks rather than the usual weekly schedule.
Never fear: This summer has been a busy one, and you can now read my stuff all over the interwebs, and I encourage you to check out my X (formerly known as Twitter) if that interests you. There’s plenty of content to go around!
Now for rapid fire:
Topic One: Luis Rubiales, Spanish football federation president, kissed national team player Jennifer Hermoso on the lips during their World Cup celebration, which she then stated was not consensual. Rubiales is suspended pending investigation but has not resigned.
My take: Predatory behavior by power brokers in sports was the subject of one of my first columns ever, and it seems that no one has learned much of anything. It’s evident that the structures in place to punish Rubiales — who wields extraordinary power over Spanish and European soccer — are completely inadequate.
It’s especially important for women’s sports to address these situations forcefully. Women’s sports generally are growing rapidly in popularity, and the removal of toxic personalities from the fold will help prevent enthusiasm for the sport from souring. If men like Rubiales are allowed to roam unchecked, mass resignations and boycotts will stunt the industry’s ability to produce a product for people to watch.
Topic Two: Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías was arrested on domestic violence charges, the second time he’s been booked for such offenses in his career.
My take: Urías’ behavior — which is obviously abominable — presents an under-discussed question about athlete conduct: How should leagues dole out second chances?
This is really about cancel culture — should Urías’ first offense have disqualified him from ever pitching again? Should domestic violence in particular be treated as a one-strike-and-you’re-out situation because of its severity?
That’s the easiest position to take, but probably overly simplistic. In 2019, Urías was suspended for 20 games for allegedly pushing the woman he was with to the ground in a parking lot, which was corroborated by both security footage and eyewitness account. However, the woman herself said that she tripped, and the Los Angeles City Attorney did not press charges.
Forceful case-by-case handling is critical to remaining sensitive to the immense complexity of most misconduct investigations. Nevertheless, Urías has almost certainly pitched his last game for the Dodgers, which at the moment is the right call.