The System has Failed Again

Cuban Under Fire

Mark Cuban Comes Clean, but Punishment Leaves Much to be Desired

Rich, white men don’t go to jail – plain and simple.

After a chilling story of an abusive workplace culture within the Dallas Mavericks organization was released by Sports Illustrated, the NBA conducted a thorough investigation which resulted in horrific findings. Over the span of two decades, women were entering an unsafe working environment within the organization – one in which they were abused, sexually assaulted, and dehumanized.

Dozens of women were harmed. Coerced into non-consensual sexual activity, talked down upon by their male co-workers. Some reported that they were shown pornography, while others alleged they were given tours of the Dallas Mavericks facility, which had to include a tour of the male “guide’s” apartment.

“I dealt with players all the time,” said one former Mavs senior female staffer. “I had hundreds of interactions with players and never once had an issue…they always knew how to treat people. Then I’d go to the office and it was this zoo, this complete s**tshow. My anxiety would go down dealing with players; it would go up when I got to my desk.”

Now, Cuban is under fire and quite frankly his punishment was nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

The organization did not suffer any basketball penalties, while Cuban is able to maintain control of the team and agreed to donate $10-million to women’s groups, a sum four times that of the maximum $2.5-million fine according to NBA guidelines. If you consider that Forbes estimated Cuban’s net worth at right around $3-billion, a $10-million charity donation is a disheartening attempt to clear his name.

“You don’t feel safe going to work and it’s not long before you look for another job,” says one of those women, now employed in a different sector. “And then you wonder why there aren’t more women working in sports. Really?”

An interesting parallel can be drawn between these findings and the Donald Sterling saga. The former NBA owner was forced to relinquish his control of the Los Angeles Clippers organization after it was discovered that his employees, players included were subjected to a racist and toxic working environment.

Racism is as pressing of an issue as sexual assault. In fact, sexual assault can be labeled as more severe as physicality was incorporated as per reports in the Mavericks scenario. Yet, while Sterling was force to give up team control, Cuban can proudly hold the title of owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

The NBA must be better and while it is of utmost importance to protect the League’s players, it is just as important to protect the employees who put in countless of hours of work behind the scenes. No matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation, no one deserves to have their rights taken from them. No one deserves to be dehumanized.

“The findings of the independent investigation are disturbing and heartbreaking and no employee in the NBA, or any workplace for that matter, should be subject to the type of working environment described in the report,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement.  “We appreciate that Mark Cuban reacted swiftly, thoroughly and transparently to the allegations first set forth in Sports Illustrated – including the immediate hiring of Cynthia Marshall as CEO to effect change, but as Mark has acknowledged, he is ultimately responsible for the culture and conduct of his employees.  While nothing will undo the harm caused by a select few former employees of the Mavericks, the workplace reforms and the $10 million that Mark has agreed to contribute are important steps toward rectifying this past behavior and shining a light on a pervasive societal failing — the inability of too many organizations to provide a safe and welcoming workplace for women.”

On Wednesday morning, Cuban appeared on ESPN’s The Jump alongside host Rachel Nichols. In what turned into a very candid interview, Cuban made no excuses, showed empathy, and apologized for his past action, but the past cannot be undone. A simple apology does not change the horrors that women have undergone for over 20 years working for the Mavericks organization.

No matter how many times Cuban covered up for former Maverick employee Earl Sneed who was accused of physically assaulting multiple women. No matter if Cuban knew about former team president and CEO Terdema Ussery’s transgressions or not, the Dallas Mavericks organization belongs to Cuban and it is solely his responsibility to assure a safe working environment for everyone within the organization.

A insignificant fine was not a punishment that would force change. Even a six month suspension would do little to send a stern message of the gravity of the present situation. Many NBA fans, including myself can agree that on the surface Cuban has made the NBA more entertaining, but his actions should be met with severe consequences which not only would humble Cuban himself, but attempt to eliminate sexual misconduct from the NBA once and for all.

If Donald Sterling was banned from the league, Cuban deserves an identical punishment.

The system has failed us once again.


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