Responding to Bad Behavior in Professional Sports

May 5, 2014

The Los Angeles Clippers protest the racist comments made by their owner by wearing their shooting shirts inside out.
Credit Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

After racist remarks from L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling were published online, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life from the NBA and fined him $2.5 million.

Veteran AP sports editor and journalist John Affleck, a Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State talked about how far sports leagues should go to clean up bad behavior, not only by owners, but coaches and players.

“I do think there's an issue of how far is too far and what constitutes something that's said privately or is perhaps not in anyway meant to be in an offensive manner. But the examples that we have seen are so extreme that they sort of demand action. And I do think that one thing that really is a driving force in all of this, in all of these controversies, is simply money,"Affleck explained.

"It was pointed out well before these incidents that Sterling had a history of discrimination. That he had a history of bigotry, but nothing was really done about it."

The real difference this time, according to Affleck,

"The timing of this tape release (also the fact that it was so incredibly long and he went on in such length) but the timing of this in the playoffs and the player reaction partially drove the league's response. I mean you had a situation where the Golden State Warriors, which was the team that were playing Sterling's Clippers in the playoffs, were ready to walk off the court in a protest. If you blow up the NBA Playoffs that has enormous financial and brand consequences for the NBA and so they simply have to respond."