Two stories which appeared in the sports news today drew my attention. Both stories involved sports personalities who acted without due regard for the press which it might draw them. Both appeared to be selfish, but in reality, neither suffered a loss from the consequences of their actions.
The first, more notorious story involves NY Knicks President Jim Dolan. As reported on Deadspin and confirmed by the team, Dolan received an email from a fan who claimed to have been a Knicks fan for more than sixty years (talk about long suffering) who wrote that he was "utterly embarrassed" by Dolan's moves as owner of the team.
As reported on the Yahoo basketball blog - Ball Don't Lie, Dolan responded to the fan:
You are a sad person. Why would anybody write such a hateful letter. I am.just guessing but ill bet your life is a mess and you are a hateful mess. What have you done that anyone would consider positive or nice. I am betting nothing. In fact ill bet you are negative force in everyone who comes in contact with you. You most likely have made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe. I just celebrated my 21 year anniversary of sobriety. You should try it. Maybe it will help you become a person that folks would like to have around. In the mean while start rooting.for the Nets because the Knicks dont want you.
(To see the full e-mail to Dolan and his response, please click here http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/knick-owner-james-dolan-urges-an-angry--alcoholic-maybe--knicks-fan-to-root-for-the-nets-163622254.html)
Dolan's response demonstrates the mindset of a man who made his money by operating a monopoly (Cablevision) and who does not care if he alienates long time fans because he knows that the next sucker will by the seat that this disillusioned fan gave up.
Apparently, the NBA only has issues with owners who are racist and not those who are mean to the elderly as late this afternoon the NBA announced that Dolan will not be disciplined for his e-mail. (To see this story please click here http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nba-wont-punish-dolan-email-knicks-fan-224242156--nba.html).
In contrast to the story about Jim Dolan and his utter disregard for what people think of him and whether they will continue to support his team, there was another story posted today on Yahoo sports involving Alexander Ovechkin (Ovie for short).
Last week, the NHL held its annual All Star game. As they had previously done in non-Olympic years, the NHL held a fantasy style draft where the players selected by the league for the game were then drafted by the two captains. The league then present cars to the two last players selected in the draft.
In advance of the game, Ovie had campaigned to be one of the last two players. Since he is an all world talent, it was unlikely that he would be among the last two players selected. Similarly, because he makes $9 million a year, he clearly did not need to get a free car.
As was reported on Yahoo uneven Puck Daddy blog, Ovie did not do it for the car. He had lobbied to be selected last so that he could donate the car to charity. (To see the story please click here http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/alex-ovechkin-finally-gets-his-honda--donates-it-to-charity-220236314.html).
Although Ovie was unsuccessful in this regard, once the news broke about Ovie's motivation, Honda agreed to donate another car to the charity (the American Special Hockey Foundation).
From the outside, both Ovie and Dolan acted out of apparent selfishness, yet Ovie clearly had a higher purpose in mind while Dolan only thought about himself.
In Jewish thought there is a concept of being dan l'caf zechus, of giving people the benefit of the doubt when you see actions which could be interpreted in different ways. But sometimes a person demonstrates over time that he is unworthy of such courtesy. I leave it to the readers to determine whether Mr. Dolan has stepped over the line.
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