Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Gil's Call - Callaway's Conduct Symptom of Larger Problem

When recent allegations surfaced alleging inappropriate behavior by former Mets Manager and Angels Pitching Coach Mickey Callaway, some of the remarks from alleged victims resembled comments made by umpire recipients of on-field abuse.

In this Gil's Call, we explore the relationship between abuse of officials by certain coaches, managers, or players that occurs on the field and allegations of misconduct that surfaces off the field.

The large difference, naturally, is that, by and large, an abusive person's misconduct during a game occurs on the field, directed at people who wear a certain uniform, while the abuse off the field is largely directed at people who share a certain personal characteristic.

In order to weed out the latter—which society at large seems to have formed a consensus as a largely unacceptable act—could, perchance, addressing the former—which society at large seems to somehow be okay with—prove an effective countermeasure?

When stories like Callaway break, many in the media or fandom decry how this could have happened, said coach is one bad apple, etc...yet those same newsmakers readily rack b-roll footage of said manager having an explosive temper tantrum directed at an umpire during a previous year's ejection to accompany the "shocking" story, as if the two aren't even remotely related.

Similar misconduct, even if different in form, is still abuse, whether it occurs on or off the field. Society seems to think the fence line separating the playing surface from the spectator area—or even the stadium gates—somehow holds a magical property that keeps things "between the lines" and suspends the principles of transitivity.

Here at CloseCallSports, we have long chronicled the perils of umpire/referee abuse and its detrimental effect on the sports officiating community.
Related Label: Umpire Abuse.

Yet for some reason, leagues have remained reluctant to substantially address bad behavior, which in 2017 led to a World Umpires Association-wide white wristband protest, followed not even one year later by the rebranded union, MLBUA, publicly calling for MLB to take action after yet another instance of umpire abuse from ejected personnel: whatever the league negotiated in the wristband protest finale clearly wasn't strong enough to hold for more than one season.

The on-field abuse issue remains so pervasive that our mental health sponsor, Outstanding Sportsmanship is Paramount (OSIP Foundation), runs a hotline called Officials Anonymous for officials experiencing issues related to abuse. After all, the same b-roll footage used to support a potentially abusive manager's indictment could very well be used to supplement a sport's officials disclosure of trauma.

When we are inconsistent in enforcing boundaries—by permitting abuse to continue on the field while decrying it off the field—the end result is covert abuse and gaslighting behavior off the field an a pervasive sense of entitlement. Callaway's alleged misconduct is, extremely likely, just the tip of the iceberg: not for Callaway personally, but in terms of abusive conduct by others which to this point remains unpublicized.

Disagreements are okay, arguments are okay, even yelling may be acceptable under certain circumstances. But abuse—whether through manipulative gaslighting, bullying, or overt illicit activity—is never okay and when it's time for the dispute to conclude, the afflicted teammate must be able to acknowledge and accept the umpire's stern edict of "no": the umpire must be shown that respect for autonomy.

And, thus, in order for "no means no" to work off the field, it must also work on the field and be backed up by those in charge. If the powers-that-be continue to be unable to do so, this systemic abuse—in whatever form it might take—will undoubtedly continue.

It shouldn't have to take covert abuse transmogrifying into a PR nightmare for a suspension to occur, at least not with all this prior evidence, and b-roll footage, sitting plainly in the public eye.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Officiating Perspective - Callaway Allegations and Sports Abuse (CCS)


Post a Comment