As newfound sensitivity to sexual misbehavior continues to take down a loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires, each new example of the unprecedented accountability arising in a non-sports context serves as a reminder of what could happen for the NFL and one or more of its teams. When these situations emerge in a sports context, the warning becomes even more clear, either as to things that could happen in the future or as to things that already have.
The latest example comes from the latest expansion of the problems engulfing Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has seen the issues quickly grow from allegations against the basketball organization he owns to himself.
Accused of sexual assault in 2011, Cuban denies it. But the question of whether arrests were made or charges were filed or verdicts were returned is irrelevant when a prominent public figure faces allegations that the court of public opinion may deem to be credible. Which underscores the importance not only of never crossing the line but always staying far enough away from it that plausible claims can’t be made, even if they are embellished, exaggerated, or flat-out false.
Recently, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (who has from time to time found himself at least within a stone’s throw of the line) addressed the impact of recent societal changes on the business he owns.
“I really don’t want to get into that at all,” Jones told reporters on Saturday, via the Dallas Morning News. “But you need to, we all need to be very attuned and sensitive to fairness in the workplace. To any end that we need to give it more thought, we should and are. And just simply because of the reminders all over this country that we need to really use our energy and we ought to use our assets to be very equal and fair in the workplace.”
Of course, it should have always been this way, not simply after Harvey Weinstein’s day of reckoning, or after the problems arose for the Mavericks or, to a lesser extent (but with far greater consequence), the Panthers.
“I want to be really clear I’m not commenting on the Mavericks in any way,” Jones said. “Not because of the Mavericks, but just in general you see that these are areas that we should, like so many things, we should have been looking at them more sensitively 20 years ago, we should have been looking at them more sensitively 40 years ago, 10 years ago. There’s so many things that we look at differently.”
It’s easy to understand why NFL teams would look at things differently moving forward. The question becomes whether things that happened before the Weinstein epiphany will come to light in the future, given the sudden incentive to identify these incidents, to bring them to light, and to ensure that consequences previously avoided finally will be imposed.