Evil Forces in the World

Reflections on ''Evil Forces in the World,'' as well as occasional remarks concerning ''Good Forces in the World.''

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

'Harder, Daddy, harder' indeed
Seattle Storm standout Sue Bird on Monday canceled a wager made earlier this season with a sports radio talk show host, who had proposed to spank her on his program if she lost the bet.

This is known as "welshing," a term condemned by militant Welsh Americans.

After realizing the bet had offended some people, Bird decided to call it off.

The wager hinged on whether Bird's assist-to-turnover ratio would turn out higher than 2-1 at the end of the season.

As the bet stood, Bird would have had to cry, "Harder, Daddy, harder'' during the spanking if she lost. If Bird won the bet, program host Mitch Levy would have had to buy season tickets to Storm games next year.

On one level, the offensive character of the incident is blindingly obvious. That said, I can also imagine in a scenario in which this was a relaxed and wry exchange based on an understanding that this unfortunate outcome, i.e., the public spanking, would not in fact come to pass as a result of Ms Bird's sporting prowess. And what the heck is wrong with that?

The bet drew criticism, including a comment from state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, who teaches women's studies at the University of Washington.

"It helps feed into the images of violence against women and stereotyping,'' Kohl-Welles told Seattle Times sports columnist Steve Kelley. "I don't condemn her. I appreciate that she doesn't have the experience in life that other women have had. But this could be very hurtful. Not just to the WNBA, but to other women and girls.''

Fair enough. I won't rail against the senator, as she makes a reasonable point. At the end of the day, I nominate Ms Bird as a good sport, both for having a sense of humor and for having the good sense to apologize after the fact. This is what civility is about.