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Yes, Mo'ne Is a Hero, But ...

Should "taking the high road" be required?

March 29, 2015
 

As the parent of an athlete who has played in some highly competitive leagues, I am well aware of the importance of instilling the principle of good sportsmanship in players. In high stakes situations, generosity and grace often aren't the natural responses, and they need to be drilled into kids (and sometimes parents) repeatedly to achieve any semblance of a civilized sports environment.

Last week, Mo'ne Davis exemplified good sportsmanship in her response to Joey Casselberry's stupid, sexist tweet. It seems boorish, for this reason, to voice reservations about her statement.

Friends and Internet commenters talk about how she is an exemplar of the Christianity her family embraces, turning the other cheek and loving her enemy. I agree, this is admirable.

More cynical observers, most notably my son, have suggested that her statement was carefully composed, or at least vetted, by a PR staff which is grooming her to cross the gender line in one of the many sports she excels in. He and I both hope this is true; she is a terrific athlete and would make a fine role model for kids everywhere.

But I'm concerned about the possible implications of her choice to "take the high road," as people keep putting it.

It isn't that this is a bad choice — at 13 she is clearly more mature than Casselberry, or than many adults I know, for that matter, and this was a kind and empathetic response.

But women, especially women of color, are so often expected to take that road, to get over it and move on, that it is concerning as well as inspiring to read her words of support for the perpetrator an offensive act. I was especially saddened by her statement, "I know people get tired of seeing me on TV." No, we don't, Mo'ne. And if we ever do get tired of seeing you, we'll just change channels. Decent people don't need to insult and demean a fellow human being — especially a champ like you.

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