Monday, September 18, 2017

Co-workers vs. Team Members

In light of even more news, I want to talk about this.  Look, I can't speak for ESPN or Jemele Hill or Michael Smith or anyone else there.  But, I am someone who's been listening to them since the "His and Hers" days.  They have talked a lot about how team solidarity can work or not work.  It's a thing that comes up when you cover team sports.  In sport, as in other jobs - let's face it, there is a complex relationship where you have teams that change and go, and front office changes, and you can decide, I want to play with you, or in this place, or not.  I was just discussing with someone that when my office decided to make us all telecommuters, I had to decide.  That wasn't the place that I had signed up for.  I went and talked to my manager about what were my options.  And I made the decision to stay since the other trappings of my co-workers, and the work I did each day remained essentially the same. 
Hill and Smith have talked about how the team that they created for "His and Hers" was them.  It wasn't any male sportscaster and any female sportscaster.  There could be guests, they weren't tied together for life, but if things shook out some way, they were not going to try to create the same thing with someone else.  Anything they did with someone else was different.  I'm not suggesting that's the only way or the right way to operate.  I'm suggesting that in a lot of employment situations, we are encouraged to think of our teammates as interchangeable cogs who operate distinctly, who get paid, promoted, and chastised distinctly.  And that's why unionizing, or things like actors on the same show gathering up to get paid the same across the board still are viewed as outliers.  Everyone's got bills to pay and that's not a small thing. We can't all afford to quit, or lose a paycheck.  But there are times where you might be willing too.  And having had the conversation with your team ahead of time, means you're ready when they show up and say, so, how about tonight we have you guys instead? 
This doesn't just apply to jobs themselves.  There are times, there are always times when management asks for something that doesn't feel right.  Sometimes you can address this as individuals.  And sometimes consulting with your team and presenting a united front can be more effective.  This is easier to do, if you've already talked to your co-workers.  
Again, I don't know what ESPN management was thinking.  But it seems like they were trying to let this blow over by removing her from eyes, which of course would have sent the message that the political figures should have a say in who talks about sports on TV.  Or talks about anything on TV.  And let's not forget, all of this is because a black woman called a person who has aligned themselves with white supremacists a white supremacist. We have seen way more free speech defense for literally every person who used an abusive or racist slur.  But we're still pretending calling racists racist is the real racism.  And it isn't.