First, the Carolina Panthers. Now, the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Sports Illustrated has done a great job of exposing previously hidden issues of inappropriate workplace conduct in the sports world.
The obvious question becomes this: Who’s next?
Everyone is officially on notice. Indeed, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban already had concerns about the issue, before becoming aware of the months-long effort to investigate his team.
“I can’t tell you how many times, particularly since all this [#MeToo] stuff has been coming out recently I asked our HR director, ‘Do we have a problem?'” Cuban said. “Do we have any issues I have to be aware of?’ And the answer was no.”
Cuban has since fired the HR director. Cuban also has fired Earl K. Sneed, a writer for the team’s official website who was: (1) arrested for assaulting his girlfriend during the 2010-11 season; (2) pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of family violence assault and interference with emergency request; (3) after the guilty plea, became unable to travel with the team to games played in Toronto; (4) nevertheless remained employed; (5) began dating a co-worker; (6) allegedly assaulted her in 2014; and (7) nevertheless remained employed, until this week.
The message to every NFL, NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball is clear. Smoke out these issues on your own now, or risk that Sports Illustrated or someone else will do it for you, creating along the way a major embarrassment for failing to act in the absence of the glare that comes from being the subject of a meticulous journalistic investigation.
As Cuban has learned the hard way, asking the HR director whether there’s a problem may not be enough. These teams may have to hire outside firms to investigate them the way that Sports Illustrated has, in order to ensure that the situations are handled properly, especially if they previously were swept under the rug.