Please note: anyone can fall victim to taking football trash talking too far. Including elected officials.
Last Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals beat the Seattle Seahawks in dramatic fashion, winning by scoring a touchdown with barely two minutes left in the game. With the win, Arizona ended Seattle’s 14-game home win streak, while keeping their own playoff hopes alive.
Naturally, Seattle fans were upset. Some, however, took the situation a bit too far. Washington State Representative Joseph Fitzgibbon (D-Burien) sent out the following, angry tweet after the Seahawks’ defeat:
Uhh…what. Fitzgibbon deleted the tweet shortly after sending and clarified:
As you can imagine, Twitter users and Washington State Republicans bashed the tweet:
“My mom is there. All my siblings are there. My family is there. I grew up there. It is a great place to grow up,” said Keith Schipper, who also is the communications director the Washington State Republicans. “To call a multi-racial community like Arizona is racist and a wasteland is the height of intolerance, and disgusting, his holier than thou attitude is an embarrassment.”
The same article notes that the State Democratic Party Chair, Dwight Pelz, called the statement, “a bit harsh.”
Realizing his stupidity, Fitzgibbon apologized…twice. The first apology, given in an AP interview, was pretty lame: “If folks are going to take that too seriously, then I’m sorry about that.” So, more or less, this apology was “Sorry that you are so sensitive.” Right. That was probably well received by no one.
The second apology, given in an interview with KING5 news, was far more comprehensive:
“Sometime I mix sports and politics too much in my own brain, and I made a point not very delicately,” he said. “That was not a kind thing to say, and I’m sorry for what I said. It wasn’t fair to most people in Arizona.”
He says he’s passionate about immigration, and policy reform, but admits trying to frame it in a sports context was not the best choice.
“I didn’t make that point well,” said the Burien Democrat. “There are a couple of mistakes. I shouldn’t have mixed the two, shouldn’t have painted a broad brush, and Twitter is not always the best way to make points like that. That’s the lesson I’ve learned.”
Gibbons also wrote a long, note on his Facebook page in which he apologized to his colleagues, constituents, Arizona and Seattle.
Forgetting the standard “don’t tweet stupid things” advice, check out the differnece between the apologies. The first one was a further insult: sorry you people in Arizona have such thin skins. The second one was far more comprehensive: here’s why I said what I said, but I understand it was wrong, and I apologize. If you mess up, apologize unreservedly and whole-heartedly.