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Joseph Ossai and the necessity for empathy

Joseph Ossai made the largest mistake of his younger profession on Sunday evening. The form of play that may have been the worst mistake of a profession lasting many years, Desperately making an attempt to make a play and maintain the Chiefs out of discipline objective vary, the Bengals’ second-year defensive finish acquired misplaced within the second and didn’t understand that Patrick Mahomes was out of bounds when he made contact, shoving him to the bottom and getting flagged for pointless roughness.

We will litigate the character of the penalty and whether or not it deserved being flagged, however I received’t change two extraordinarily apparent truths:

  1. It led to Kansas Metropolis being in place for the game-winning discipline objective
  2. There was nothing about Ossai’s actions that indicated maliciousness

It was simply a kind of performs. It occurs. Athletes get caught up within the second, they make a mistake — and extra of than not they’re allowed to maneuver on. Sadly for Ossai it occurred on the worst potential second, on the worst potential time, within the greatest recreation possible.

We noticed reside as Ossai sat alone, inconsolable on the Bengals bench — understanding his actions probably value his staff a spot within the Tremendous Bowl. Destiny would have determined in Cincinnati would return, however Ossai ensured that didn’t. It carried into the locker room, when Ossai was surrounded by the media, nonetheless in tears, and barely in a position to maintain it collectively whereas teammate BJ Hill backed up his teammate and helped deflect essentially the most biting questions.

It’s wonderful that Hill was there to again up Ossai, however such a rattling disgrace we wanted him to. How did attain some extent the place a participant must be the voice of cause in a press pool? How did the decline of fundamental human empathy plummet so precipitously that somebody thought it was applicable to ask a 22-year-old, in tears, on the lowest second of his life:

“How laborious is it to not, perhaps, not pull all that weight on you?”

Ossai made it a number of phrases, choking out “it’s extraordinarily laborious, man” earlier than breaking down once more — solely to have Hill intervene and cease the query. What was to be gained by asking that? What potential reply do you count on as a reporter?

I’m not a journalist. I don’t declare to be one. I’m not on the bottom doing vital reporting on information points that form the worlds — however one factor that also sticks from a journalistic ethics class I took in faculty was when a professor of mine mentioned “irrespective of the topic, irrespective of the story, always remember your humanity.”

It’s why I’m so completely floored after I see one thing like this. I perceive everyone seems to be making an attempt to hit deadlines and get quotes from the largest story to shut the sport, however ought to that come on the expense of so blatantly ignoring the humanity of a topic? Is it value making a 22-year-old cry simply to get a half-choked out reply saying “sure, it’s extraordinarily tough understanding I harm my staff”?

Anybody with a modicum of observational consciousness may have crafted a narrative in regards to the second with out cornering the participant himself. A lot extra of this second may have been instructed by describing his physique language, how teammates rallied round him, getting quotes about Ossai from different gamers, exhibiting their help for his or her teammate — relatively than pouring gasoline on the worst second of a participant’s life.

If we wish to focus on when a participant may and will have executed higher we additionally must be prepared to be introspective. We will all do higher on this business, not solely to regain belief, however present slightly fundamental empathy and never attempt to make a horrible state of affairs for somebody worse. It’s not that tough.



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