Roy Hibbert, ‘No Homo’, and Public Apologies

Roy Hibbert has been known as a fun guy, starting his own area called Area 55 (#55 being his jersey number) and making his own Harlem Shake video back when they only kind of sucked.  I kind of liked the guy considering he was on a good team in the East, a Pacers team that fought for the same resources as my beloved Celtics. Long story short I rooted for him, and he was playing the Heat, so right now I love him.

He has responded well and has been balling during these playoffs, putting up an impressive 24 points and snatching 12 boards in route to an important game six win to push the Eastern Conference Playoffs to a seventh game.  The Georgetown product, as his 7 foot 2 inch stature would indicate, came up big.  Following the game during the presser he made these comments

I really felt that I let Paul down in terms of having his back when LeBron was scoring in the post or getting to the paint, because they stretched me out so much. No homo.

I have so many feelings about this, its hard to know where to start.

First off, Hibbert issued this horribly insincere and over-crafted apology

I am apologizing for insensitive remarks made during the postgame press conference after our victory over Miami Saturday night. They were disrespectful and offensive and not a reflection of my personal views. I used a slang term that is not appropriate in any setting, private or public, and the language I used definitely has no place in a public forum, especially over live television. I apologize to those who I have offended, to our fans and to the Pacers’ organization. I sincerely have deep regret over my choice of words last night.

This was preceded by a tweet to Jason Collins, the first openly gay athlete in the first four sports that said “@jasoncollins34 hey can I get a follow. Would like to discuss something’s with you.”

This came off as hasty and overall shitty as an apology and the more I contemplated it, I was more annoyed at Hibbert’s response to his slip-up than the faux pas itself.  Which got me thinking– did Hibbert need to apologize?  Sure it was stupid and childish, but when examining apologies it’s important to actually analyze who is to blame.  I am not entirely sure that responsibility rests squarely on Hibbert’s shoulders.

Let me preface this with saying I hate people who skirt around personal responsibility for things by placing blame on ‘society’, ‘the greater community’, or whatever buzz word they have to defuse responsibility.  Accountability is key, especially when something goes wrong– there needs to be some recognition of such fact and an appropriate alteration in attempts to insure it does not happen again.

Now that I have properly hedged my argument– let me finally begin it: Roy Hibbert is just a victim and while his actions are dumb it is purely symptomatic of greater communal fuck-ups and formulaic apologies.  “No Homo” was everywhere for a while, so much so that my friends and I made a parody “No Hetero”.  It’s stupid, but so is almost all middle and high school humor.  It’s ignorant, it’s naive, it’s immature– all these charges against it are reasonable and just.

It’s just that I am sure these phrases are said many times during locker room chats, film watching sessions, and shared meals.  To presume that this sort of language is out of basketball players’ or really most people’s vocabulary is equally naive as the phrase itself.  This sort of thing happens, but the former Georgetown Hoya didn’t really address these facts, he just went for the blanket apology without actually interrogating why it happened.

The response was what made the whole situation worse.  It was lip-service to dodge the real issues, a simple “I fucked up, sorry to all of those I offended” cover-up which doesn’t do the crime justice.  An apology should allow for some sort of reassurance that this wont happen again– Hibbert’s carefully crafted reply did nothing of the sort.  Perhaps his contact with Jason Collins was sincere or maybe it was not, but the discussion of what his statement means needs to happen.  Why did he say it.  That’s what I want Roy Hibbert to address.  That’s a real apology, justify your actions and then explain why they were wrong.  What cognitive processes got crossed? What logic was flawed?  You said it, but why, especially if you come out afterwards saying it is not representative of your beliefs– there is obviously a disconnect– explain it to me.

I hate apologizing and I hate apologies.  They pull at the pride and go against all of my self-preservation stubborn instincts.  That being said, I fuck up plenty– and the people who are close to me deserve them.  But I would never give such an incomplete apology– friends, family, and lady-friends just wouldn’t buy it.  To know the source of your mistakes and to make the appropriate change is a horribly difficult process.  Roy, I understand this.  But this is a message to you and many other athletes and public figures: Don’t apologize unless you have really gone through this process, because otherwise it is just not worth my time.

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