NBA Basketball: Where’s Our “Code”?

In light of Charlie Villanueva’s accusation that during  Tuesday nights Pistons/Celtics game Kevin Garnett called him a “cancer patient”, people are disappointed, but perhaps not surprised, that a basketball star like KG would trash talk using such an insensitive/ignorant remark.  If Garnett did in fact say what he is accused of saying then his actions are indefensible.  If true, it’s also likely that Garnett himself wishes he could take it back.

The bigger issue is that some people, athletes/journalists/fans, believe that this incident should have never reached the airwaves.  They think Villanueva should have stuck to the “code” and kept his tweeting mouth shut or dealt with it on the court during the game.  According to the “code”, or unspoken agreement between professional athletes, what happens during a game, between the lines so to speak, stays in the game. Some believe that Villanueva broke this unspoken bond when he tweeted that Garnett called him a “cancer patient”.  But should this “code” even exist in sports?  To me, the “code” is nothing more than a built in excuse used to mask bad behavior which then creates a damaging double standard between athletes and the fans who pay to watch them play.

The “code” is not real life. In the real world, there are consequences for your actions.  The lack of accountability that the “code” promotes amongst athletes only fosters the sense of entitlement which could drive the casual fan away from professional sports. Do all of us say things to colleagues that we hope remain private? Yes, absolutely.  But if our actions and words are made public we really have no one to blame but ourselves.  Same should be true for athletes.  Share your views.