Jared Dudley And The Death Of Honesty In Professional Sports

I hate Russell Wilson.

Yes, he seems like a nice guy, a great teammate and one helluva leader. Sure, he’s a little man who dominates a big man sport – that’s always fun. It’s also hard to knock his impeccable record since entering the NFL.

But, man, listening to any one of his press conferences makes me consider whether Beethoven’s late-life deafness was really that bad. And you know the worst part?

I blame us. I blame sports fans everywhere. It’s our damn fault.

Case in point: Jared Dudley made news for saying Kobe Bryant is a tough teammate and Carmelo Anthony has underachieved in the NBA.

Yeah. That made news.

Kobe was caught on camera calling his teammates “soft as shit” and Carmelo has gone from NCAA Champion to perennial butt-end-of-jokes. Please, do explain to me where Dudley said anything ACTUALLY newsworthy. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Still waiting – breath caught in my chest. Aaaand time.

Problem is: anytime an athlete comes across as anything but a robot spewing the coached responses rehearsed repeatedly like some kind of public relations ventriloquist dummy, we, the jealous public line up to jump down their throats like extras hoping to wander into the background of the upcoming “Entourage” movie.

Sports are supposed to be fun, right? Remember Ron Artest’s drunken, post-title press conference where he begged acknowledgement from everyone in the back on their laptops – not to mention the subsequent humor when he changed his name to Metta World Peace? How about J.R. Smith’s mid-presser selfie with teammates? That was entertaining, wasn’t it? And, if so, isn’t that exactly what sports should be: entertaining?

No. Instead, we’re smack-dab in the middle of the era of the hot take. We all try to outdo each other’s outrage at that damn athlete doing anything but shutting up and playing hard. The ad hominem attacks on Dudley were sickening. What the hell does his personal career have to do with an assessment as an outsider of Kobe’s leading style?

You’re right, Mamba Army. Jared Dudley isn’t the player Kobe Bryant or Carmelo Anthony might be. Well done, Captains Obvious. Did you take pleasure as Dudley walked back his comments on the radio and on social media? Was it fun proving to the stupid athlete making a legitimate point that you can scream louder?

I sure hope so. One less jock offering perspective from his side of the sideline, one more athlete prepared to lie to you to save face.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll put it another way. Put yourself in one of the most precarious positions of adulthood – dealing with a salesperson. There you are, in need of some product or service, dealing with someone who’s been trained to say all the right things, all just to convince you to spend just a little more than you’d like.

Throughout the entire experience, you’re sifting through bullshit hoping to find morsels of truth that you might piece together to make a coherent, and, dare I say, educated decision. Even then, you sit there and wonder if you’re being angled toward an inferior product so that greasy liar might line their pockets with an increased commission delivered directly from your bank account.

It all felt dirty, right? Even if you are happy with the product you walked away with, part of you has to wonder whether you actually purchased what was best for you.

Now, think about how you prefer athletic entertainment. When athletes speak, I’d rather not sit there and think, “man, he sounds like he just wants to avoid effing up a future payday.” But, thanks to 24-hour news cycle featuring idiots like Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith telling us how to feel about athletes as they come forth with honest opinions, that’s all we’re left with.

I want more Jared Dudleys – more athletes willing to stick their neck out for something they believe in enough to speak publicly.

Instead, it seems we’re doomed to listen to Russell Wilson and others like him repeat how excited and grateful he is for another opportunity to lie to us, in hopes of another ad campaign, another payday.

Let’s just hope the sports they’re selling us isn’t a lemon we’re stuck with.

Author: Anthony F. Irwin

The old guy.

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