FanDuel - WFBC

May 03, 2007

Respect for the dead: the Josh Hancock thread has turned into a meta-discussion about what is acceptable discussion of a sports figure's recent death. Shouldn't we have this discussion here, instead?

posted by qbert72 to navel gazing at 03:51 PM - 37 comments

The meta-discussion, here, I mean. I know I'd feel more confortable speaking my mind outside of Hancock's eulogy thread. (How's that, for meta-meta-discussion?) On a related note, I find that the Locker Room rule (don't discuss a specific member's conduct) is almost constantly broken on the main site. I know rcade doesn't want the Locker Room to become MetaTalk, but these days I feel Sportsfilter itself is going down that path. Maybe I'm just getting old. And i haven't visited MetaFilter in more than two years, so maybe I'm also talking out of my ass.

posted by qbert72 at 03:57 PM on May 03

[I moved this comment from the original discussion to here.] I'm sorry that she lost a son, but if he was drinking and driving, then he's a bad person for doing so. Don't forget to kick his grandmother on your way out. I hear during his visits as a baby she repeatedly failed to put childproof protectors over her electrical sockets. Listen. If people can't figure out there is a difference from dying as the result of a personal mistake/choice/fate (drugs, suicide, old age) and dying as the result of a personal mistake/choice/fate that put OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES IN DANGER, then I really can't fucking explain it well enough. Would everyone still be acting all shocked and confused with my stand on this matter if he had killed someone else at the scene of the accident? Just because he didn't happen to kill someone, doesn't make his actions (if he was driving drunk) reckless and stupid.

posted by grum@work at 04:06 PM on May 03

+1, grum.

posted by tieguy at 04:09 PM on May 03

I'm sorry grum, I think everyone understands the distinction you're making. People are taking offence because: * You made an assumption of guilt * Expressions of anger at a tragically deceased are usually withheld

posted by qbert72 at 05:11 PM on May 03

Hunh. I tend to stay away from the "." eulogy threads because I don't understand them. They make about as much as sense as pouring some 40-water on the ground for a dead homie (and I used to be a gangbanger, so I'm familiar with the phenomena.) Not all SpoFi members believe funerals should be sober events (where I lived a few years ago funerals were parade-like and I totally dug it) or that people can die before their time or that condolences need to be offered. Some, like me, believe, no one gets robbed. When you're done, you're done. And yet, veteran members, members who know how diverse we as a community are, still get their panties up in a bunch when it comes to stuff like this. I don't think Hancock is a bad guy for driving drunk, but if Grum wants to think that, I've got no problem with it. Frankly, I'm more offended when members (usually new ones) go Sally Struthers on the rest of us. But that's just me.

posted by forrestv at 05:23 PM on May 03

Would everyone still be acting all shocked and confused with my stand on this matter if he had killed someone else at the scene of the accident? Yes. And this is where we should just agree to disagree. When someone's dead, they're dead and taking any sort of satisfaction in that seems low to me. All of this is my own hang up. You're free to do what you like. I just don't get what posting about drunk driving is supposed to do except make you feel superior. It's not going to stop Josh Hancock from driving drunk ever again. His keys are permanently behind the bar. It's not going to change anyone's mind in the thread. Why can't we just take, "Drunk Drivin': Don't Do It!" as read and all skip the voicing of that?

posted by yerfatma at 06:03 PM on May 03

Hunh. I tend to stay away from the "." eulogy threads because I don't understand them. They make about as much as sense as pouring some 40-water on the ground for a dead homie...
When will be able to mark comments as favorites? I think I'm done with those threads, nothing good ever comes from them.

posted by geekyguy at 07:09 PM on May 03

I don't see anything wrong with what anyone has written. It's alright to be passionate, but disagree and still remain civil. I don't see any examples to the contrary that offend me in any meaningful way.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:13 PM on May 03

On a related note, I find that the Locker Room rule (don't discuss a specific member's conduct) is almost constantly broken on the main site. I know rcade doesn't want the Locker Room to become MetaTalk, but these days I feel Sportsfilter itself is going down that path. Agreed. It does no good to keep personality conflicts out of the locker room if they're on the main page. We've probably been too lax in that regard. On topic, death threads are usually a pain. I always feel like they're a little over the top. But I've expressed that in the past and it hasn't gone well, so I generally just stay out of them. That said, if they're posted to sportsfilter, they're up for discussion. I don't agree with 'making a mistake = a bad guy', but I'm not offended by it. Then again, I've been numbed by sites such as metafilter where applauding a death isn't a rare thing. What we've seen on sportsfilter is very tame compared to many parts of the internet.

posted by justgary at 07:19 PM on May 03

What we've seen on sportsfilter is very tame compared to many parts of the internet. That's moral relativism. Whatever anyone else does doesn't move the line dividing right and wrong.

posted by yerfatma at 07:29 PM on May 03

I don't think anyone was taking joy in Hancock's death. Somehow though, at least for me, the tragedy of someone's death is mitigated somewhat by them choosing to engage in high-risk behavior. It is no longer so senseless and random.

posted by bperk at 07:35 PM on May 03

I should say the tragedy of someone's death seems mitigated.

posted by bperk at 07:42 PM on May 03

That's moral relativism. Whatever anyone else does doesn't move the line dividing right and wrong. I'm not talking about right or wrong. I'm talking about shock value. I see a guy get stabbed and I think it's a horrific injury. A paramedic comes along and says it's just a flesh wound. What might seem like offensive statements in that thread to someone else might seem like normal discussion to me. Neither one of his right or wrong, but it helps explain where the difference in opinion comes.

posted by justgary at 08:56 PM on May 03

Despite the fact that I've been here well over a year, I consider myself a rookie in this conversation because the majority of people who are likely to participate will have a lot of seniority on me, and Iam still learning how this site works because I'm pretty much dumb as a brick. I say this up front because I don't want anything I say following to sound like preaching or how things are or even how they should be. It's really just pennies from the choir - my observations, for what they're worth. 1. I agree with forestv that the dead athletes threads make no sense in the way they've been steered here. If we want to allow "tribute" threads to dead athletes, then spitting on the grave should be discouraged, if not banned. The way it's configured now, where discussion is encouraged from any angle, the conversation will almost never be sports related and will pretty much always lead to bad feeling somewhere. Nobody made a comment about how the loss of Hancock affects the Cardinals' bullpen, because that would be really crass. I don't know what good, sports-related direction that conversation is supposed to go. 2. I agree with Weedy. The conversation was (almost necessarily) passionate, but I don't feel anybody crossed any lines that offended me. 3. Drunk driving has poor PR among negligent behaviors. There are lots and lots, literally thousands of negligent behaviors (like overlooking protective covers for electrical outlets) that threaten the lives of other people, and the vast majority of those actions (or inactions) are committed by sober people. In the case of drunk driving, the person making the decision already has their judgment impaired, and yet we jump on this issue (instead, perhaps, of jumping on the activity of getting drunk). Raging at somebody whose judgment is already impaired for not showing good judgment seems kinda odd to me. 4. I'm not sure how bad a kid's behavior has to be before you're welcome to tell the mom, "Your kid is a big fat jerk," right after the kid has died, but drunk driving by itself is not remotely close to that threshold in my book. 5. I agree with yerfatma that justgary (and bperk) have exhibited some moral relativism. I don't think the behavior of other internet entities should dictate what is or is not the right course for this site, and I don't think the treatment of athletes here who are still alive can be relevantly compared to the treatment of the recently deceased. I think that covers my thoughts. My opinions are subject to change, as these are complex issues in my opinion and I'm trying to keep myself open to other points of view.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 09:01 PM on May 03

I agree with yerfatma that justgary (and bperk) have exhibited some moral relativism. Again, not my point at all. Maybe I don't write so good. When I first got dial up so many years ago I would read some pretty shocking things on death threads at various sites. I had always thought you never spoke ill of the dead. I quickly found out that not everyone shared that opinion. So I'm a little numb when it comes to this type thing. My point, I think, was that others might come to sportsfilter and be in the same boat that I was many years ago. Just trying to see the thread through their perspective. If that's "moral relativism", then I accept the label. I don't think the behavior of other internet entities should dictate what is or is not the right course for this site It shouldn't, and never has. That said, you can learn a lot from other sites regarding what works and what doesn't. To ignore that info is like buying a baseball team and ignoring how every other owner has put his team together, what works and what doesn't. And yes, I'm a little defensive when people act as if sportsfilter is satan's dwelling place when it comes to death, race, or similar topics. We actually try to keep the conversation civil. Many sites don't. Nobody made a comment about how the loss of Hancock affects the Cardinals' bullpen, because that would be really crass. I don't know what good, sports-related direction that conversation is supposed to go. Agreed, what is there to say. Which is why I also hate 'athlete A was caught drunk driving' posts. What is there to say about it? Drunk driving is bad? We know that. The conversation was (almost necessarily) passionate, but I don't feel anybody crossed any lines that offended me. Really? Don't forget to kick his grandmother on your way out. I hear during his visits as a baby she repeatedly failed to put childproof protectors over her electrical sockets. Now I'm really confused.

posted by justgary at 01:46 AM on May 04

I didn't read the original thread til just now. To be honest I don't think that anyone needs a kicking when they are down, dead or alive, but if you are discussing a death then chances are you will discuss the manner of the death. It is going to happen, and as this is a public forum, full of people who don't personally know the dead individual, then speculation and judging is going to come into the discussion. Being dead doesn't turn you into a saint. It doesn't turn your bad choices into good ones, and if, by pointing out the bad choices someone made that contributed to their death, that discussion makes some else think twice then it isn't a bad thing now is it. And this isn't a memorial or funeral service. It is a place for discussion. And what is discussion but gossip? We can make an effort to make sure that gossip doesn't turn malicious, but to try and stop it all together is pretty pointless imo.

posted by Fence at 04:35 AM on May 04

It's human nature, when faced with a tragic event like the death of this pitcher, to speculate on the reason it happened. When the press strongly raised suspicion that he was driving drunk that night, it was inevitable that it would come up in an open discussion forum like this one. The notion we're kicking grandmothers seems bogus to me. People who can't handle frank talk about an athlete's death should avoid those discussions.

posted by rcade at 07:45 AM on May 04

I agree that it's human nature, rcade. It's just something that I personally find distasteful. This probably stems from my experience in a sport where people die, and seeing the ugliness that can result when people act out this "human nature" while the corpse is still cooling. Speculation leads to analysis (without sufficient data), and analysis leads to blame, because "human nature" wants to wrap this bad thing all up in a package and put it away on a shelf. Death is a boogeyman, and I think people want to speculate and debate and analyze because they want to find, or invent, some reason why that can't happen to them. Oh, he drove drunk, well, I don't know that he did, but let's go with it, because that means It Won't Happen To Me. Oh, his PFD was unzipped, obviously that's why he died, the dummy, and It Won't Happen To Me. Oh, she was walking through the park at night, that's asking for trouble and It Won't Happen To Me. It's human nature. I don't have to like it, but I do accept that I'm in the minority in seeing this and finding it grotesque. As far as "whence SportsFilter"...eh, leave it alone. It's human nature. I hate death drama. It bugs me when people who didn't have any personal connection to a deceased public figure act like their best friend died. It bugs me when people express "condolences" to loved ones who will never, ever read them. And, as previously noted, it really bugs me when people have to play the blame game, without IMO sufficiently detaching it from the death. It all seems silly and annoying to me, but leave it alone, it's human nature and it won't change.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:05 AM on May 04

I tend to stay away from those death threads because nothing good ever comes of them. Although I'm certainly not proposing this as a rule, it's almost like we should only comment on these things on the anniversary of the death or at some point later when we have more facts and when it seems more appropriate to take a critical look at a player's legacy. I didn't want to piss all over the Kirby Puckett thread by saying he was a marginal Hall of Famer and that his post-retirement life left a bit to be desired, but I'd feel comfortable doing it now. I was at the Cardinals game last Saturday and saw Hancock pitch. He acquitted himself admirably in that game and, really, during his whole time as a Cardinal in a pretty unsexy role (mop up time guy and long-reliever). That's really all I have to say about him.

posted by holden at 08:13 AM on May 04

When someone's dead, they're dead and taking any sort of satisfaction in that seems low to me. I don't think I have ever ONCE expressed satisfaction in Josh Hancock's death. Drunk driving has poor PR among negligent behaviors. There are lots and lots, literally thousands of negligent behaviors (like overlooking protective covers for electrical outlets) that threaten the lives of other people, and the vast majority of those actions (or inactions) are committed by sober people. In the case of drunk driving, the person making the decision already has their judgment impaired, and yet we jump on this issue (instead, perhaps, of jumping on the activity of getting drunk). Raging at somebody whose judgment is already impaired for not showing good judgment seems kinda odd to me. Drunk driving is a pre-meditated act. If you are driving to a location where you are going to be drinking, you are therefore taking the mindset that you are going drive home after having drinks (unless you change your mind and order a cab, in which case you aren't driving home drunk). Unless someone tied you down, poured alcohol into your mouth and then strapped you behind the wheel of a car and forced you to drive home, it's a premeditated act. Forgetting to put covers over electrical sockets isn't even in the same category.

posted by grum@work at 08:52 AM on May 04

It bugs me when people express "condolences" to loved ones who will never, ever read them. Bugs me too, a bit. I always find it a bit disengenuine. But it mostly really bugs me when people express condolences to a horse.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:01 AM on May 04

I would like to formally apologize it was just released that he was drunk.

posted by MindyK at 10:28 AM on May 04

But it mostly really bugs me when people express condolences to a horse. I can report that there was some coughing and salad dressing went up my nose. I hate you.

posted by jerseygirl at 10:47 AM on May 04

I don't think I have ever ONCE expressed satisfaction in Josh Hancock's death. Sure you have. "Satisfaction" is a loaded term, but I like loaded terms. You've used it to further the idea people who drive when drunk are bad people, which is well within your rights. I'm sorry I seem to have caused this meta-discussion. It's my personal hang up and I'll try one more time to better define it and leave it at that. When I was about 8 or 9, there was a coach in our soccer league who was the most odious person I'd ever seen. He spent the entire game screaming at a bunch of 8 year-olds due to their lack of effort and atrocious skill level. Call me precocious, but even at that age I could tell there was something wrong here. Fast-forward a few years and his obituary is hanging on our fridge. I honestly don't know who my mother cut it out of the Irish Funnies for, my father (the guy had been in Vietnam, like my dad) or me (the coaching connection). When I walked into the kitchen, I started pointing and laughing because well, I was 11 and I thought it was apt punishment. I don't know what my dad said or how he looked at me, but from that day on I've never really said anything about someone's actual death* since. Because I don't know. I don't know what happened to that guy in his life that he wound up screaming at kids. I don't know why Josh Hancock drove drunk. Maybe he was a douchebag, maybe he was sad and lonely, maybe he normally was fine on x beers and didn't know that night was different. To be cliche, I haven't walked a mile in any one else's moccasins, so to comment on the end of their life feels like a failure on my part. * Compare and contrast with the number of times I've voiced a desire to see some one die. In fact, I think that's my default statement in public when I see a hipster or similarly annoying person, "Die."

posted by yerfatma at 10:48 AM on May 04

The faux reverence for the dead just kills discussion on a board like this. If we take it as a given that Hancock's family isn't going to read our comments, then why not have a discussion about forces at play here. LaRussa's arrest, the practice of serving alcohol in clubhouses, playing in a stadium named after a beer - maybe all of this stuff is nothing or maybe it created an atmosphere where Hancock's behavior seemed ordinary to him. To be cliche, I haven't walked a mile in any one else's moccasins, so to comment on the end of their life feels like a failure on my part. I think that is a great plan. It eliminates hypocrisy, which is why I am a defender of grum in this instance. If people are going to put people they don't even know on a pedestal when they pass, then they need to accept that someone may come along with a different perception.

posted by bperk at 11:02 AM on May 04

Again, not my point at all. Maybe I don't write so good. Maybe I don't read so good. I think I understand what you're saying. I don't think I've been numbed to the same degree, and I apologize for my misinterpretation. Also, I am not labeling anybody as a moral relativist, I'm only reacting to specific comments. I don't mean anything I said to be taken personnally -- if anything I've said appeared to be attacking the person and not the position, then perhaps I am the one who doesn't write so good. Now I'm really confused. The notion we're kicking grandmothers seems bogus to me. People who can't handle frank talk about an athlete's death should avoid those discussions. I wasn't offended. I was reacting to grum's comment which by my reading meant he had no reservations about walking right up to the mom the day after her son died and telling her that the sum total of her son's life was this accident and that he was uneqivocably a bad person. I found (and continue to find) that notion just preposterous, and I used an equally preposterous act to demonstrate my reaction. I think the comment is being read with more hostility than there was behind it. Again, maybe I'm not communicating as well as I would like, but I don't think disagreeing with somebody else's perspective is the same as being offended. I don't see kicking grandmothers as being that far away on the scale of absurdity from telling moms their dead sons got what they asked for. If holding that opinion demonstrates an inability to handle frank discussions, then maybe I should be cast out, exiled to the land of crazyhead discussions. Forgetting to put covers over electrical sockets isn't even in the same category. Who said anything about forgetting? Maybe grandma was too busy preparing the roast and decided she didn't have enough time to cover the sockets, assuming that the child would be watched closely anyway and the likelihood of an incident was small. Just like every person who ever set out to dinner where they intended to have a glass of wine or two with their meal figured the likelihood of having an incident driving home was small. And by my observation of the number of times this type of event occurs, they would be correct. I think your definition is too broad and is being painted by the evidence you have of Hancock's behavior that night. I don't think everyone who sets out for the evening and winds up drunk does so with that intention from the outset. I think that's a pretty wide brush. But I do agree (and have seen firsthand) that there are plenty of people who set out with the intent of getting plastered, enough to make that the defining image of the drunk driver. There are also plenty of people who don't put enough oil in their car, let their gas go low enough that they run the risk of going dry, don't change their timing belt, don't get regular tune-ups, drive with one headlight or with their tail lights out, keep their CDs below the dashboard or in a side console and change them while driving, or talk on the cellphone or read maps or meeting notes or newspapers while driving. There are local governments that knowingly allow dangerous intersections to remain unchanged. There are many behaviors that need to be addressed and changed to make the world safer (I've only listed a few and only in the area of motor vehicle safety). It's easier to work with sober people than with drunk people. Let's get the sober folks to start behaving better, and instead of getting the drunks to stop driving, let's work on getting the drunks to stop drinking (they cause plenty of problems outside the car, too). That's all I was saying.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 11:28 AM on May 04

Not only was he very drunk, they found weed in the car and he had been talking on his cell phone.

posted by vito90 at 11:31 AM on May 04

I don't at all condone drunk driving, hell my brother was hit by a drunk driver and fortunately only lost his foot. But I was also not going to condemn the man before there was proof. I talk on my cell phone everyday and I have never had a problem then again I don't drink. If anything comes of this whole situation I hope that young ball players teenagers and kids realize that even big names aren't 10 foot tall and bullet proof. I feel sorry for his family this is not the way I would want to remember my loved one.

posted by MindyK at 11:47 AM on May 04

What a shame! Being drunk and getting behind the wheel. Nothing good can come out of that.

posted by BornIcon at 11:54 AM on May 04

People who talk on their cell phones while driving never think they are bad drivers.

posted by jerseygirl at 12:03 PM on May 04

In the interests of tying up loose ends, I should mention that: a.) I never meant to suggest (and don't think I did) that gary was a moral relativist or such a spirit permeated the site, just that using the behavior of others as a benchmark for Right doesn't work. b.) Around age 3, I stuck a fork in socket.

posted by yerfatma at 12:15 PM on May 04

St. Louis sports columnist Bernie Miklasz, criticized for reporting ill of the dead, is justifying it in this manner:

Well, the search for truth in such terribly cruel circumstances is never easy. Some can't handle it. But others can; there is a silent faction of players who believe that exploring unpleasant truths is necessary. Some are second-guessing themselves, wondering if they could have prevented Hancock's fatal accident. If alcohol indeed played a role in Hancock's demise, it should be discussed, and openly. At least one Cardinals official, general manager Walt Jocketty, has displayed the courage to face up to evolving information and do just that. This is no time to look away. By connecting alcohol to Hancock's death, and raising awareness, then maybe, just maybe, one person will take note, and call a taxi at closing time. And if one intoxicated person does that, then something good can come of this. And it won't matter if Tony La Russa is mad, or the players are upset, or readers are canceling subscriptions.
Although it's true that the dangers of drunk driving should be obvious to anyone these days, it's also true that some people aren't getting the message. The news of how Hancock died could be a catalyst for some people to change their own behavior to avoid the same fate. (Or one that might be worse -- I know somebody who killed a mother and young child when he was 20 driving drunk, and even though his jail sentence is over he will take that to his grave.)

posted by rcade at 12:17 PM on May 04

People who talk on their cell phones while driving never think they are bad drivers. They sure don't. Why, just yesterday I saw one on Tremont Street in Boston who thought that he was doing just fine. Unfortunately, one of the motorcycle cops who was riding escort (with lights a-flashin') for the motorcade that Mr. Cellphone barged into didn't agree with him. Cop had to swerve around and stop his bike right in front of Captain Oblivious before he woke up from his conversation and realized that he was somewhere he shouldn't be. It's been a while since I've seen a cop quite that enraged. The cop really didn't seem to like drivers who use cellphones one little bit, no he didn't.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:20 PM on May 04

rcade, sure the conversation should take place -- and definitely, tragedy can make it real to people who weren't getting it before. But it doesn't all have to get rolled up into the same sticky tarball. Mourn the guy's death over here; talk about what went wrong over there. The audiences will overlap, but not everybody is going to participate in both discussions (nor should they).

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:23 PM on May 04

Interesting angle is the example Tony LaRussa sets for his team. It will be hard for him to face his team. What's he gonna say, "Do as I say, not as I do?"

posted by vito90 at 01:27 PM on May 04

there is a silent faction of players who believe that exploring unpleasant truths is necessary Glad to hear they won't be adding their voices to the discussion.

posted by yerfatma at 01:33 PM on May 04

Again, maybe I'm not communicating as well as I would like, but I don't think disagreeing with somebody else's perspective is the same as being offended. Point taken. Around age 3, I stuck a fork in socket. posted by yerfatma That explains... so much.

posted by justgary at 02:26 PM on May 04

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.