” Teammates laugh as New York Mets pitcher Jeurys Familia stands on a stool with his pants around his ankles and sings the national anthem of his native Dominican Republic during drills Thursday in Port St. Lucie. Familia, and a few other players, performed the punishment at the direction of Mets strength and conditioning coordinator Brad Andress, who felt they weren’t giving full effort. (Photo credit: Jeff Roberson/ASSOCIATED PRESS)” TC Palm
The comments and captions I have seen for this photo have generally been amused in tone, seeing this as a humorous spring training punishment. I find the photo disturbing on a number of levels. First, it sends the message that humiliation has a place on sports teams (and in other organizations), that those with power in an organization are free to and even celebrated for taking advantage of a power discrepancy to humiliate someone else in the name of education. I would hope no educators or coaches see this as an example of best practices to follow, but I am concerned that youth might see this as an acceptable part of sporting culture. A student athlete might ask if an adult can do this (make someone drop his pants and sing) why can’t a fellow team member or captain do the same.
From another perspective, this punishment trivializes Familia’s Dominican roots. I remember at summer camp having to sing “I’m a Little Teapot” in front of all my fellow campers as a punishment for something. I cannot however imagine being asked to sing the national anthem as punishment. Having Familia sing the Dominican anthem trivializes that song and also equates it with punishment.
Lastly, the visual image of the person of color standing up with his pants down in a humiliating position while white people stare and laugh viscerally upsets me.
Certainly photos are open to interpretation, but this one shows a side of sporting culture I hope will eventually be eradicated.