Words have an important impact and words also allow us to understand how someone thinks. Lately we have seen a series of incidents around the world where individual’s words have got them in trouble.
Sometimes, as a result of a totalitarian policing words -an anti-liberal scenario-, and others for terrible remarks such as inciting hatred where the consequences have been appropriate.
Sport has not been exempt of controversies related to words. Just last week, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Chef, Yoshiro Mori, a former Prime Minister of Japan resigned after he remarked that women have a strong sense of competition between them, leading to longer meetings as a result of more people wanting to speak.
Such comments led to a public outcry and the public pressure and media stratification led to his resignation. His comments were gender-based and probably antiquate, but he did not make any comment here he was demeaning to women nor when he advocated to subordinate the role of women.
It was not a proper and responsible comment, but the reaction was exaggerated. His resignation was out of proportion for having made an uncomfortable comment.
Increasingly, individuals with a sense of moral superiority have led to public mobbing of the words. Just last year, driver Kyle Larson (USA) made the mistake of saying a word with racist connotations in a sim race -without a racist target- and as a result he was suspended by NASCAR and lost his ride.
Larson found his way in dirt racing and was dominating there last year. He also took the time to learn, reflect, be better and do social service. As a public sportsperson he needed to do better and understand that he is an example, but had he been banned from the sport that would have been a travesty.
Fortunately Larson came back to racing last week at the Daytona 500 and had a good race. He can now be an ally of important social causes and that is good, but that would not happen would he not have the platform to continue doing what he does best, which is racing.
Even with something that goes directly against the spirit of sport, cheating, there are avenues for athletes to eventually come back -except for extreme cases and/or repeat offenses- but part of human nature is making mistakes and doing wrong. It is also human to forgive and give second chances.
Sport has an educational purpose beyond just having fun, and the best way to reinsert someone in society and do right is not by exclusion but rather by inclusion and teaching. Punishment if part of it as well, but a permanent ban for just words is beyond the scope of sport and it should continue to be that way.