When answers get in the way of action
The thing is, I don’t want answers.
I’m not interested in the interim explainers, which are, more often than not, all the reasons why it is difficult to do something. Difficult, but not, as all the reasons usually stop just short of in a kind of linguistic shrug, impossible.
What’s difficult tends to be that way because of precedent, or risk, of too much of one and not enough of the other. What’s easy is taking the steps once something has been decided. We wring our hands over decisions because we set out on all the different paths winding away from them in possible outcomes. We wring our hands because we’ve already placed ourselves in the future, where the fallout is wrought and with shape. Once we’ve decided, made the choice, set things into motion, there is nothing so difficult. Actions its own smooth course, its own clear road.
Answers, to explain something being stalled, add to the difficulty of action. Answers become the why not to because when applied this way, can only be taken from action, outcome, situation prior. The whys and hows of what happened before.
There are lots of answers, always, when it comes to talking about harm, about violence, about wrong done to women. I would say especially when it comes to cases like Terence Davis, athletes, men in public positions of acclaim and power, but really, always. Because the immediate response to a woman either asking the question around harm or answering to it, is to hesitate, is to impede even our own instinctive reaction. Instead of action, what should be acceptance, there are questions. The where, why and hows of what’s happened not as due diligence, but to create room for doubt, for inaction, for “How cold we possibly know?” as if she didn’t already tell us. As if hers was just a body hurtling through space.
With Davis, what presumes action is an investigation. The NBA takes over, the team waits, the NBPA is the third party there to essentially keep the player in question at arm’s length from their team, from media, they are made to be difficult to get too close to or far away from.
It’s in the waiting that the team is let very gently off the hook.
As Davis has been investigated Toronto has kept his contract, its November 29th guarantee date come and gone, sitting affably within the quiet, hands-off security of the league’s investigation. The team has also invited Davis to Tampa, to ostensibly begin some measure of training with them. These are the only overt actions the team has taken with Davis and both signal, strongly, high beams going full tilt, that they would like him ready to play.
Toronto’s hands, as many seem eager to say, are not tied. They’re only delayed. Toronto’s hands, really, have been busy. They’ve not been so encumbered as to let the draft or free agency pass, securing new players and their subsequent deals that leave the franchise very freed up, very able to wave hello to their hoped for future. Toronto, like many teams — the Lakers and Kings with Luke Walton, the Clippers with Willie Reed, the entirety of the Dallas Mavericks organization and its culture under Mark Cuban — gets what is essentially a league mandated grace period. They are aware, but not made to zero in. None of this needs to be their main focus. Any scrutiny or questions as to what now or what’s next falls very easily around answers like, “We’re fully cooperating with the league.” And certainly, of course they should, but here is where precedent, where answers, get in the way of action.
It would be very possible to ask Davis not to join the team in Tampa until the league’s investigation is complete. Or to put him on paid administrative leave, as has been done in the past in identical situations by many teams, many places, many businesses doing just the bare minimum.
Very possible doesn’t mean easy. And that’s where it gets tied up.
Action, to be actionable, accountable, progressive, is not usually easy, at least not right away. What the Raptors lose, bit by bit, day by league mandated investigative day, is accountability. It’s where we learn that zero tolerance has a lot of room between none and some, enough to exist pretty comfortably between the two for quite a while.
And here is where the answers kill me. Kill me in a funny way and kill me, very slowly, as a woman trying to work and be in love with this world at the same time. When the answers are quickly and easily, “It’s business”, or “A team isn’t obligated to do the right thing”. Both are true. But both also make it so plain how easily we’ve handed off a degree of difficulty we would expect from anyone else we cared about. When a team like Toronto, that lauds itself on doing the work, doesn’t really do the work, then I think it is fine to have expectations, to admit they’ve not been met. You would remind people in your life of not fulfilling promises if it was going to mean harm, to mean a longterm kind of no turning back between you. With a basketball team the biggest difference is that you do this with your money.
So when I say I don’t want answers, I mean it. I’ve had so many in my life up to now that have only been meant to shut me up, to put me off, to make me question why I asked in the first place. Bodies are maybe the most tangible thing we have. To live literally in them, to know what that’s like. There should be no questions about the harm that can be done to them, because of who did it and why. A bruise spreading, skin splitting open, blood, these are all answers to harm. Answers a body always has at the ready.
Unfortunately commerce and self-interest will always over-ride any human rights principles espoused by those tasked with winning a championship in the professional sports arena. The actions of Raptors management clearly demonstrate that they do not have a Zero Tolerance policy regarding Violence toward Women. If they did, Terrence Davis would not be allowed to paticipate in team activities until the results of the police and NBA investigations are known. I do hope that Raptors management do not add insult to injury by having Mr. Davis wear a sweater advocating that "Black (women's) Lives Matter". Clearly, he and the Toronto Raptors management group, have failed to understand the true meaning of those words. By their actions they show us, and our children, that such words are just another slick advertising slogan designed to dupe the public. They want to be seen as being proactive with respect to social injustice when, in fact, their actions demonstrate that they are perpetuating the injustice. During these difficult times of social/economic upheaval and the Co-Vid pandemic you would expect more from Canada's only NBA sports organization. After al,l is winning an NBA championship so important that it has blinded Raptors management to what really matters to Canadians????
A Concerned Toronto Raptors Fan