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NHL legend Bobby Hull died on Monday at the age of 84. Most of the tweets surrounding his death remembered him for his play on the ice.
But not all of them. Media members quickly reminded everyone that Hull had his share of issues in life. He had a conviction for assaulting a police officer and allegations of spousal abuse from two separate wives.
That last one is a link to a video on the TSN website with a Bobby Hull obit. The obituary discusses his hockey career and then delves into his off-the-ice-issues.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski shared a past article that he wrote about Hull detailing his troubling past and said, “If you choose to celebrate Bobby Hull ‘the player’ today without mentioning everything that led to his legacy becoming forever tarnished, you need to reprioritize.”
Bobby Hull doesn’t receive nearly the same treatment that Kobe Bryant did on the day he died.
This is not to say that we should not discuss Hull’s past. Domestic abuse allegations from two separate women and a conviction of assaulting a police officer are serious and are part of his life.
But the problem is that this standard was not in effect when Kobe Bryant died in helicopter crash in January, 2020.
Yes, Bryant’s death was an accident and seen as more tragic because of his age. But it doesn’t change that he, too, had disturbing past allegations levied against him.
Bryant was accused of rape in Colorado in 2003. The criminal case did not move forward because the victim refused to testify, but the pair settled a civil lawsuit.
Bryant released a statement after the settlement accepting responsibility and apologizing to the victim.
“First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident,” Bryant wrote. “I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure.
“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” the statement continued. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
But on the day Bryant died, bringing up this incident from his past was seen as blasphemy. According to NBC, The Washington Post suspended a reporter for tweeting an old story about Bryant’s rape case.
The media’s double standard
That’s the exact same thing that ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski did. We will wait to see if he is suspended for his actions, but the suspicion is that he will not be punished. OutKick reached out to ESPN for comment but has yet to hear back.
According to the Daily Beast and New York Times, Post reporter Felicia Sonmez shared screenshots from two editors at the Washington Post, both condemning her “judgment.”
Wyshynski wrote in his tweet that we must take into account all of Hull’s “tarnished” legacy, and he wrote it hours after Hull’s death.
I agree with that sentiment. However, those who dared make that case on the day of Bryant’s death were told it was “classless” or “the wrong time.”
Slate noted that “in the day since Bryant’s death, news outlets have struggled to fit the rape case into their obituaries and remembrances. The Associated Press, CNN, Fox News, Sports Illustrated, the Undefeated, and several other sports outlets ran pieces that didn’t mention it at all.”
Actress Evan Rachel Wood tweeted on the day of Bryant’s death, “What has happened is tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family. He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist. And all of these truths can exist simultaneously.”
She received so much criticism and backlash that she deleted the tweet.
Publicly, most people did what they were told and simply memorialized Kobe Bryant. He was called an incredible athlete, father and husband. But privately, people shared their feelings about Bryant’s past.
A sportswriter noted that she received hundreds of private emails from people afraid of being attacked online.
If we decide as a culture that there is a time and a place to talk about these things, that’s fine. If the day someone dies is not that day, fine.
But let’s not pick and choose when and to whom we apply the standard.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ
One CommentLeave a Reply
Hull had the wrong skin suit.