I’m sure most of you have heard the story by now, but there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding the Pilgrim girls basketball team recently.
After the Pats pulled off a stellar win over visiting Mt. Pleasant, there were folks online that claimed that Pilgrim fans directed racial slurs toward the Mt. Pleasant bench.
Joining the online fray was Maribeth Calabro, president of the Providence Teachers Union, who on Facebook said, “This is what the HELL is WRONG with this state and country…are you frigging kidding me??? I want to know, I demand to know what the Pilgrim Principal, the (RIIL) and the Commissioner have to say about this abhorrent, disgusting display of blatant racism.”
Calabro continued to comment on the situation (despite only hearing rumors, not racial slurs herself) and even stood her ground when others informed her that she may have spoken too soon.
Pilgrim went on to do a full investigation of the incident, including watching game film and interviewing those present, including the Pilgrim girls basketball team. The investigation came back with zero evidence of racism, which led to Calabro receiving a great deal of backlash.
The Providence Journal spoke with members of the team, who demanded a personal apology from Calabro beyond just what she could just type on a keyboard.
Since then, Calabro and the union have released an apology, and Calabro spoke with the Journal regarding the situation.
To sum it up, she apologized for the situation, said she regretted it, but she made one big mistake in my opinion.
That mistake is that she said that she did not know where to go from here, and even said that she wasn’t sure if the Pilgrim team actually meant what it said when it demanded an in-person apology.
As nice as a formal apology is, she shouldn’t have to think twice about making the trip to Pilgrim to apologize to the girls. It does not matter if the girls on the team were the ones accused or not, they were dragged right in the middle of an ugly situation that was exacerbated by her irresponsible remarks.
As great as sports are, and as much as they can bring a community together, there are unfortunate times like this where they can also bring out the worst in people, and in this case, a truly ugly side of someone.
Do I believe that Calabro is an ugly person? I don’t know, to be honest. We all make mistakes, but not once throughout this entire process has she shown true compassion. Even during her interview with the Journal, although she apologized, she essentially said that she didn’t know what to do from here.
Really? Is it that difficult to apologize in person and to move on?
I’ve heard people online suggest just about everything in terms of a possible punishment, which as of now does not look like she’ll receive.
I’m all for second chances, and we all make mistakes. Especially in the social media era that we are currently living in, one misguided quote online can lead to a world of trouble.
But ultimately, Calabro took it too far, has not exactly shown true remorse for her actions, and in my opinion, deserves discipline. Nothing outrageous, maybe a small suspension.
As for the Pilgrim girls, I truly feel sorry for them. I have interviewed a handful of them multiple times, and they have always been more than friendly and respectful. Same with coach Scott Bayha, he is a stand up guy and has always been a pleasure to do business with.
This horrible situation serves as another example of why we must be careful of what we say on the internet, and to not always believe what you hear just because.
As great as social media is, and in my profession it is an extremely useful tool, it can also be hazardous.
So many conflicts and controversies are started online every day, and we saw just how far downward these issues can spiral.
My advice for Calabro on the other hand, is to put her ego aside and allow herself to be vulnerable.
Go to Pilgrim, apologize to the girls, and stay off the internet. Unfortunately for her, her comments are permanent and the damage is done. This hit to her reputation will forever be there.
So moving forward, she should be doing everything in her power to rehabilitate her image, and not be giving half apologies and throwing her arms up in the air.
To be totally honest with you, I was not taken aback by this topic when the news first broke, and it is because this is the society that we live in.
Someone made a controversial, unsubstantiated claim on Facebook that rocked the boat? Big deal, this type of nonsense has become commonplace in our world. I am certainly not trying to downplay the severity of these accusations, but unfortunately, these things happen now more than ever.
Her response on the other hand is what lit a fire in me, though. We all make mistakes, and many of us fall victim to social media. Apologize though, no stipulations, nothing extra, just apologize, admit guilt, and promise to never do it again.
Let’s see if and how she handles it moving forward. It’s not too late to do the right thing.