Thursday, August 28, 2014

To Josh Shaw: Sorry Bro, We've Got Enough Wool to Pull Over Our Eyes...

 "You tell me lies that should be obvious to me. I've been so much in love with you baby 'til I don't wanna see. "

Lyric from: Ain't That Peculiar from the album Moods of Marvin Gaye 
Written By: Pete Moore, William "Smokey" Robinson, Marv Tarplin and Ronald White
Performed By: Marvin Gaye

Photo of Josh Shaw courtesy of

By now we all know that USC cornerback Josh Shaw made up a story about jumping off of a balcony to save his nephew who was drowning in a pool, a heroic forgery of a tale that was supposed to explain away his two injured ankles.

We know because he came clean and apologized for the fabrication via a statement through his attorney. But gee whiz, some things should be too terrifying to lie about.

My husband describes a near drowning incident he experienced at the age of seven as a helplessness he wouldn't wish on his worst enemy-a body that suddenly felt as if it weighed exactly one million pounds and the unfortunate realization of how much he had taken breathing for granted at the very moment he could no longer afford to do so.

I'm so relieved that Shaw's nephew didn't endure such trauma. The would-be severity of that accident and the life and death of the matter are all the more reasons why I am so disgusted by his lie.

USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian used a somewhat more tempered d-word to describe his feelings about the senior’s storytelling.

"We are extremely disappointed in Josh," he said. "He let us all down."

He went on to say that this behavior, though out of character for Shaw, is unacceptable because apparently "honesty and integrity" must be at the center of the USC program.

The latter quote there was probably thrown into Sarkisian's talking points by a very smart communications person. It's a subtle bit of reassurance required in a present moment whose necessity was urged by sins of the past.

Yes, honesty and integrity must be at the center of the USC program now because the school is just now trying to recover from and rebuild after four years of sanctions that were among the most severe in NCAA history, with its probation period having ended earlier this summer.

Always considered one of the nation’s best, the trip back to the mountaintop won’t be an easy one for Trojan football after an investigation determined that Reggie Bush and his family had received cash and other perks while he was a star running back with the team in 2004 and 2005. 

The climb won’t be any easier for their basketball brethren hoping to rescue themselves from the murky waters of irrelevance after reeling from self-imposed sanctions following the discovery of unauthorized benefits received by O.J. Mayo from an agent’s representative while he was being recruited by and playing for the Trojans basketball team from 2007 to 2008.

But Sarkisian’s “honesty and integrity” comment got me thinking about something else. It got me thinking about the lies we have to tell ourselves in order to be sports fans.

As I read his words, I thought “who’s he kidding?” Surely he doesn’t expect us to believe that when the rubber meets the road USC, or any other program for that matter, won’t look the other way while boosters, agents, sports marketers and all manner of folk are allowed to do whatever they like in the name of putting the team in the best position to win. 

Then I thought to myself, who am I kidding?” Of course he expects us to believe that and, I desperately want to believe that. 

I want to believe that each year when the best high school athletes choose a college program that their choice has nothing to do with how much money their family was offered, the car they were promised or the academic counselors waiting to ensure that they pass classes whether they attend them or not. They want us to believe that Reggie and O.J. are rogue and, that those were isolated incidents. We will believe that because not doing so might distract us from the sports we love so dearly.

We also want to believe that the new concussion protocol in the NFL will stop players from developing CTE and that, the only guys using steroids in baseball are the ones who fail the drug tests. Oh and also that Tim Donaghy was the only NBA referee to have ever fixed games and that no one has done it since or will do it again. 

Truth be told, being a sports fan requires a suspension of disbelief far more unsettling than we are willing to admit and far more profound than simply claiming your team will win the Super Bowl each year when they’ve only won one playoff game in 18 years.

As for Josh Shaw, his attorney, Donald Etra, has assured the team and the public that his fall that Saturday night had nothing to do with a criminal act and that no alcohol was involved. Etra has previously represented Snoop Dogg and Rihanna.

Shaw has been suspended from all team activities but, Sarkisian says the Trojan family will “accept his apology and support him”.

I’m sure USC officials intend to learn what truth their team captain was attempting to cover up with such an elaborate and tactless lie.

For now, though, they seem content to move on in truth’s absence. 

And so do we.

No comments:

Post a Comment