There are a lot of incongruous events happening in pro sports. The Chicago Cubs are the favorites to win the World Series.
Mark Sanchez is the number one quarterback for the current Super Bowl Champions.
Former Clippers owners Donald and Shelly Sterling are happily married, despite V Stiviano’s intervention.
But nothing happening compares to what happened over the weekend at the South by Southwest music festival Austin, Texas.
The festival has become a huge event that’s grown beyond an opportunity for people to learn about and connect in the music industry.
SXSW now includes information about entertainment, film, social media, politics (President Obama spoke there last Friday) and…sports.
Among the panelists in one of the sports sections was Los Angeles Rams COO Kevin Demoff, who organizers brought in to discuss “the intersection of personal ethics, fandom, and commerce in sports.”
To place Demoff in any forum in which personal ethics and fandom are involved is incongruous and disingenuous.
This is a person who, at a St. Louis Rams season ticket holder event in 2014, when asked about the Hollywood Park land that E.S. Kroenke had purchased, said “that’s not a piece of land that’s any good for a football stadium. The size and the shape aren’t good for a football stadium.” He said this to his paying customers after receiving a call from Rams owner Kroenke in the summer of 2013, more than a year earlier. Kroenke was out scouting potential L.A. stadium sites, and was at Hollywood Park.
As Demoff told the Los Angeles Times this past January, “There are moments in your life you never forget. I was standing by the window in my office [in St. Louis] and Stan called. … I remember he said, “This is an unbelievable site.” Again, a site that Demoff told people that were giving him millions of dollars was a bad stadium site had been called “unbelievable” by his owner…to him…more than a year before.
The definition of ethics, according to Merriam-Webster, is “that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.” How ethical was it then for Demoff to out-and-out lie to hundreds of people spending thousands of dollars on his product? He would have been much more ethical to say he couldn’t talk about it.
Was that it? Not quite.
At a season ticket holder meeting in 2013, Demoff told the group he had grown up in Los Angeles, that he knew the market, and that it was a bad sports market, that nobody in their right mind would want to have a team there. However, in a January 2016 interview with NBC 4 in Los Angeles, Demoff said he “always dreamed that he could be part of bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles. To think that it happened is really unbelievable.”
What’s the truth? Was Demoff lying to his paid customers in St. Louis, or was he telling the truth and dreaming of returning the NFL to a bad sports town?
By the way, Demoff said in another forum in June of 2014-one in which the franchise was trying to woo on-the-fence season ticket holders to come back-that there was a “one-in-a-million chance” that the Rams would move to L.A. That’s not exactly a lie. It just happened that the one in a million chance came through.
There are numerous other examples of his untruths or deceptions with St. Louis fans and media, but these examples suffice for now.
Now, this isn’t retroactive bitterness on my part, but a question as to why someone would pick Kevin Demoff, of all people, to talk about personal ethics. It’s almost as if he doesn’t know what the truth is any more. He says what comes to mind, and whether or not it’s the truth doesn’t really matter.
A quote from Missourian Mark Twain says “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Perhaps more pertinent is this quote, because it aligns so closely with the NFL…”I never lie because I don’t fear anyone. You only lie when you’re afraid.” ~John Gotti. These are simple ethics lessons Demoff could learn from.
When my daughter told me that Demoff was speaking at the event about ethics, she laughed. And I said only half-jokingly that I could come up with 100 better candidates off the top of my head. That night, I was sent out on a short drive to pick up ice cream, and came up with 50 in about fifteen minutes.
Heck, South by Southwest could have found a dozen with St. Louis ties that would have fit much better in a panel on personal ethics.
– Blues Chairman Tom Stillman runs a great business in St. Louis, Summit distributing, and made clear the day he took over the franchise that he was going to do the right thing. He consistently has, building a bridge with and honestly communicating with his customers.
Former Blues President John Davidson has the perspective of a former player and broadcaster, and honestly told Blues fans the team wasn’t going to be good for a couple of years when he took over. He’s done the same thing in Columbus. Nobody could ever find a time when Davidson lied to his fans in St. Louis.
Current Blues President Chris Zimmerman developed Nike Golf and worked with numerous athletes in that job, and has honestly and forthrightly run the Blues since taking over a year and a half ago. Before that, he was with the Canucks and Kings.
Bill DeWitt Jr. and Bill DeWitt III would have been better, Shad Khan and Mark Lamping, who have ethically committed to Jacksonville and done their best to make that situation work, would have been better.
Reds President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty, Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, Vikings COO Kevin Warren (a Dick Vermeil disciple), Vermeil himself, Joe Torre and Mike Matheny have all exhibited much stronger personal ethics than Demoff.
I’m sure South by Southwest is a great event. It’s been around for nearly thirty years and has grown by leaps and bounds. Hopefully, next year when they do a panel on personal ethics, they’ll do a better background check on the people that speak.
Kevin Demoff on ethics, like the Cubs being World Series favorites, just doesn’t seem right.
More: Rams COO Kevin Demoff Says Team Moving to L.A. is “Bittersweet”