Tony Dobrowolski | Out Of The Pages: Bad behavior and speaking clearly
PITTSFIELD >> I'm always amazed that athletes who should know better don't understand that conduct that's considered acceptable in the realm of competition is unacceptable in real life.
When it comes to business, bad behavior means banishment.
I hope that Ryan Lochte and Hope Solo understand that, but I'm still not convinced that they do.
If you followed the Summer Olympics, you probably know by now that Lochte's drunken escapade in Rio de Janiero and his clumsy attempt to lie his way out of it caused him to lose three major sponsorships.
Solo, the goalie on the U.S. Women's Soccer team, has been suspended for six months by U.S. Soccer for calling the Swedish women's team "a bunch of cowards" after they beat the three-time defending Olympic champions before the medal round on penalty kicks.
Between the two of them, Lochte will take the biggest hit in the pocketbook due to the loss of those sponsorships, which included lucrative deals with Speedo USA and clothing giant Ralph Lauren.
As of Thursday, Solo hadn't lost any sponsorships for her actions, but I'm not sure she had any to begin with. Lochte, meanwhile, may also face some sort of suspension. Both the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming have indicated there will be some kind of punishment. And, reports circulated on Thursday that criminal charges will be filed against him in Brazil.
So what should we make of all this? In my opinion, I'm glad the businesses and governing bodies associated with these two athletes held them to some kind of standard. Judging by their actions, neither Lochte or Solo seems to have an understanding of what responsibility really means, especially when you're representing your country in a high profile sporting event. Actions have consequences, and real life is a lot bigger than a swimming pool or a soccer field.
Both Lochte and Solo have been in trouble before, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised by the way they acted. Or maybe we should be. Some people never seem to learn no matter how many times they screw up. Athletes often seem to fall into this category.
Maybe it's because in sports playing on the edge is allowed, and if you're good enough to play and thrive at an elite level there's always somebody around who is willing to look the other way. Taken to the extreme, this behavior turns out people like OJ Simpson, or to a lesser extent, Johnny Manziel. Nobody's saying that Lochte or Solo's transgressions are even close to the behavior that either Simpson or Manziel have exhibited. But their actions still show a total lack of responsibility.
One hopes that the suspensions and loss of sponsorships make Solo and Lochte more accountable for their actions. Those companies and governing bodies should be applauded for what they did.
Speak clearly please
I received a phone call in the business department the other day. I thought the caller wanted to speak with someone named Joe Bananas.
Maybe it's because I had just read an article in the Boston Herald about a recently arrested mobster, but the first thing that came to mind was the late notorious Mafia don Joe Bonnano, whose was known as Joe Bananas. Why would somebody with that name be calling me?
"Joe Bananas? I said into the receiver.
Turns out I was wrong. "Is this General Dynamics?" my caller said the second time. Fortunately, this caller had a sense of humor. He began to laugh. I began to laugh. "I needed a laugh today," the caller said.
Joe Bananas. General Dynamics. It's easy for words and phrases to become garbled and sound like something else. Maybe I misheard the caller because I was working on something when I picked up the receiver. But mistakes like this happen when it's difficult to hear someone over the phone.
We have cellphones now that contain the capability that will allow us to speak with anybody almost anytime anywhere in the world. But it doesn't matter how high tech the fiber optic capability is if either the caller or the listener can't hear each other clearly.
With cellphones so prevalent nowadays, we in the media deal with this issue a lot. I can't tell you how many interviews I've had with people on cellphones where I've had to ask someone to repeat themselves because I couldn't hear what they said, or had the person on the other line fade in and out due to spotty cellphone service.
So please, speak clearly when you're on the phone. Both the callers and the listeners will be pleased.
Tony Dobrowolski is the business editor of the Berkshire Eagle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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