I know, gentle readers. You're thinking "When will MCBias return with posts about actual sports instead of juggling videos and self-referential blogging tripe?" Ooh, that reminds me, this really good juggling video came out yesterday. Err, I mean, my knowledge of baseball nowadays is minimal. So I don't want to embarrass myself there or insult your intelligence. And I get the feeling my readers are even more annoyed by my WNBA posts. So, with due apologies, this blog is going to continue to be a little off-beat until the NFL and NBA start up.
One thing I never expected when I started this site were ethical dilemmas. Yet, in the past 8 months, I've had quite a few. I was wondering, what would you have done in these situations? Some are silly; others are rather important.
Dilemma: To what extent should I exploit athletes and fans?
1. While attempting to find photos for my "Superstar Be" series, I came across several photos of NBA players having a private party on a boat with some women. The photos themselves were fairly tame; the women were clothed, etc. But this wasn't that far removed from the Vikings scandal, and with the right post treatment, it would have attracted a lot of attention. To post or not to post?
2. I also found a picture of an NBA star visibly drunk at a wedding, another of said NBA player shirtless, and some videos and pictures of drunk fans supporting their favorite team and carousing. The fan stuff was borderline "R"-rated stuff, but nothing illegal. Do I post them here or forward them to some other blogger, or forget what I found? To post or not to post?
3. A friend told me he had met an NFL scout at a wedding, who proceeded to inform him about the drinking habits and homosexuality of two players in the league. To post or not to post?
4. On another photo search, I found some suggestively posed pictures of an attractive U-20 female athlete on her site. It was clear that she meant them for her friends to see to think she's hot (low self-esteem among young female athletes about their looks is a frustrating topic for another day). Should one post those pictures since no password was required to obtain them, or try to warn the athlete "Your swimsuit photos should probably be protected or hidden in some way."?
5. Often, news coverage makes it easy to bash athletes in a paint-by-numbers, stereotypical way; the young, rich arrogant minority male, the older, intolerant, white male, the unattractive, athletic female, etc. It requires a little fudging of the person's actions and personality to do so, as very few athletes fit the profile exactly. To what extent should one bash athletes sans nuance just for the sake of appearing strong and authoritative?
6. I was at a female sporting event and taking pictures of the players. One player's pose that she did for me would have made her look silly if I took the picture and posted it on the Internet. Do you tell her to fix what need fixed, or mutter "I'm not really media" and slip her your phone #, or do you snap the picture anyway?
7. Most male bloggers really don't know who the attractive female athletes are (I've noticed a sudden surge in this category recently, but not before now). Should one feature any female athletes on their blog as sex symbols (rather than as athletes or people) or send links to other male bloggers, knowing full well that this could cause the athletes stalking problems or unwanted attention?
8. An athlete who shares my religious beliefs does some scandalous things, and somehow most bloggers miss the full story. Do I break the full story (again, nothing illegal took place to my knowledge), knowing that it will give people ammo to bash his and my faith, or let the story die down?
Dilemma: To what extent should I exploit my fellow bloggers and other writers?
1. I noticed that an ESPN personality strongly hinted that she was not sexually straight around the time Meech's book came out. However, she wouldn't quite say it plainly. Force her out with a post, or let it go, assuming she wasn't ready quite yet to share the full truth?
2. Several times I have gotten in some small flame wars on rather popular sites. If I would really go after the person, and not apologize, it would draw a lot of attention to this blog. Plus it would make me feel really good. And I felt the people I was arguing with were vulnerable enough that I could also get the commentariat to turn on them. To flame or not to flame?
3. A fellow sports blogger shared my taste in females in his Myspace friends section. He didn't appear to have "real" relationships with some of them, either; I was pretty sure some of them were of the "search and add" variety. Is it right to shamelessly piggyback off his friend list or not?
4. The Ladies... Hot Blogger contest featured a lot of machismo, as you would expect. I quickly realized I had no shot at winning, and that I would really enjoy mocking some of the more pretentious entries via some tasteless posters. To humiliate male bloggers and get more traffic for my own blog at their expense, or not?
5. A female blogger caught my eye when I realized she was an attractive woman. If I was so inclined, I could use my blog as an excuse to "talk shop" and befriend her. Is using a sports blog as an excuse to get closer to pretty women shady or not? (Oh man, I'm a little afraid to read just how enthusiastically some of you bloggers will say there's nothing wrong with this. I'm baiting you!).
6. Criticizing big names in blogging tends to cut down my chances of getting a link from them. On the other hand, criticizing small names in blogging looks petty and cheap. Kick up, kick down, or never kick at all?
7. Do you comment on sites that you disagree with their mission or style to increase my own hits from new visitors, or not? If I secretly think that your writing and thought processes rival that of someone on the cusp of puberty, do I still leave a "great blog, man" comment, or just leave the site alone?
8. In general, to what extent do you make clear to bloggers and readers your biases in religion? politics? sexuality? Those things make a difference in what stories you choose to cover and how you frame them. Is it fair not to lay out the facts up front?
Let me know your own ethical dilemmas in the comment section. Look, we're not going to create a class or 10-step program. Everyone blogs for fun and makes their own ethical decisions. But I think that it's good to realize that there are more ethical dilemmas out there than you would think, and it's good to know your own policies and morals before you run into a dilemma.