DIBIASE: Ball dropped on two of year’s most controversial issues

Justin Dibiase

This past week saw two clouds, one new and one reintroduced, hover over the American sports landscape. The face of Don Imus has been plastered all over the news lately. It is only fitting that the long and drawn-out Duke lacrosse team rape scandal reared its ugly head one last time as the Imus problem appeared. Both situations were handled poorly by authorities who lacked one key thing: principle.

After Imus delivered his repulsive description of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, his employer, CBS broadcasting, had to make a decision. This incident was not a first offense by any means. Early in his career, he was fired from a radio station for cocaine abuse and unprofessional behavior. Imus has also tossed harsh insults at Rush Limbaugh, Lesley Stahl, Contessa Brewer and Tucker Carlson throughout his career. He has also been involved with several anti-semitic, racist and homophobic controversies. Even with all of these smudges on his record, CBS somehow chose to ignore his misdoings when they only issued him a two-week suspension. After a public upheaval, many sponsors began to back away from Imus’ show. CBS then decided to cancel the show altogether. Where is the principle in this series of decisions by CBS? Imus deserved to lose his job, but instead he was given new life by CBS. He lost his job only after CBS realized its financial problem. The Rutgers women’s basketball team did nothing to deserve being called that slur, but Imus surely deserved to lose his job immediately.

As Imus was relieved from his broadcasting duties, three Duke lacrosse players were finally relieved of all charges against them for the alleged rape of an exotic dancer at a party last year. Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann’s lives were forever changed by this messy case. This accusation, which had literally no supporting evidence, led to the start of their new lives being hailed as “rapists.” In professional sports, athletes are often involved with rape or assault cases, but nothing usually comes of the allegations, and the athletes, win or lose, still have millions of dollars in the bank. These three young men’s lacrosse careers appear to be over, and they will have to enter the job world seeking employment with a large label that reads “rapist” stamped on their foreheads. This is not to mention that their own university abandoned them and forced them to fend for themselves. If the initial prosecutor, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, weren’t such a conniving self-promoter, the men would most likely face considerably less negativity. Nifong played on the emotions of an outraged community in order to gain votes for his upcoming election instead of using common sense when dealing with the weak case. The North Carolina Bar Association charged Nifong with ethics violations regarding issues such as “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.” Where, I ask, is the principle there?

Activist Jesse Jackson also did a number on the reputation of these men. Instead of allowing the legal entities, which already included the unethical Nifong, to handle the situation, Jackson decided that he had to appear in media outlets to further the case against the accused. Jackson even went to the extent of offering the accuser, who was a drug user and exotic dancer, a full scholarship to school. On the contrary, these three men sit expelled from Duke University. Where is the principle in Jackson’s actions?

The Duke lacrosse scandal and the Imus firing are both troubling. The incidents alone are worrying, but the actions of people in power in both cases are sickening. We may be making advances in civil rights and other areas, but it seems that there will always be a lack of justice within society. Even though CBS management handled the situation poorly, Imus eventually lost his show, giving the Rutgers basketball team some recompense. What recompense is offered to the Duke lacrosse players? It is almost as if they have been freed from the prison they inhabited for a year and were dumped on a street corner. If there is one thing to learn from these events, it is that history always repeats itself. After Rush Limbaugh was fired for his comments regarding Donovan McNabb and the modern black quarterback, Imus was fired for a bonehead quote of his own. After Kobe Bryant and other names in the news are accused of rape by somewhat uncredible sources, the Duke lacrosse scandal happens. Now where is the principle in that?


Justin DiBiase is a sophomore civil engineering major from Franklinville, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected].