Wednesday, 27 November 2019

That's Not How You Apologize

When it comes to apologies, they're never easy to make, especially publicly. No one likes that uneasy feeling of being called out for one's words or actions, but apologies are often a first step in admitting there is or was a problem on the way to some sort of resolution. If one messes up, it's easier to own it and apologize for it than to try to dance around it. Often, dancing around a problem just makes the situation worse. Today, we saw an incredible example of this when Calgary Flames head coach did everything but apologize to the person who took issue with his words and actions.

As you may be aware, Akim Aliu accused Peters of using a racial term about a decade ago when both were with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. Everyone seemingly had an opinion on what to do about Peters, but there was never any corroborating evidence to prove Aliu's claim. That's not say that Peters didn't say the remark as I do believe that the allegation has merit to it, but I'm also not quick to condemn anyone for something as serious as a racist remark without proof when it comes to losing one's job or livelihood.

Today, however, it seems that Bill Peters not only corroborated Aliu's comments, but went right ahead and made it entirely worse with the letter than he penned to Flames GM Brad Treliving. The letter reads,
To: Brad Treliving, GM

November 27, 2019

Brad: Please accept this as a sincere apology to you, and the entire Calgary Flames organization, for offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago. I know that my comments have been the source of both anger and disappointment, and I understand why. Although it was an isolated and immediately regrettable incident, I take responsibility for what I said.

The statement was made in a moment of frustration and does not reflect my personal values. After the incident, I was rightfully challenged about my use of language, and I immediately returned to the dressing room to apologize to the team.

I have regretted the incident since it happened, and I now also apologize to anyone negatively affected by my words.

I am aware that there is no excuse for language that is offensive. I meant no disrespect in what I said, and it was not directed at anyone in particular. But, that doesn't matter; it was hurtful and demeaning. I am truly sorry.

I accept the reality of my actions. I do believe that we must strive to act with integrity, and to take accountability for what we say and do. This letter is intended to do exactly that; I hope it is accepted as intended.

I appreciate the thorough review of this situation being undertaken by the Flames. It's the right thing to do, and I support it fully.

Bill Peters
Peters, who has known about the words he used towards Aliu for more than a decade, comes out with a letter that never once addresses Aliu nor apologizes to him directly. So if he's not addressing Aliu directly with this letter, I think Truman Burbank, played by Jim Carrey, states eloquently how I feel about this letter.
Ultimately, Peters went from being in a bad situation to making it entirely worse as this letter sounds like Peters is doing nothing more than saying the right things to keep his job. If this was some sort of apology-through-lawyers so that he didn't address Aliu directly in order to escape some sort of liability, it may work, but the elephant is still comfortably in the room at the conclusion of said letter.

Kids, this is the exact opposite of "owning up to your mistakes". If this were a sincere, heartfelt apology, Peters would have addressed Aliu by name in writing this letter. Instead, it comes off a cold, insincere letter to his boss that checks all the bosses in order to keep his job, but misses the point of the apology entirely.

With Peters basically admitting he said what he did, I don't see how the Flames can keep him around if he believes this is an acceptable apology. This public relations headache just turned into a full-fledged nightmare. I can't see anyway that the Flames can continue with Peters as their head coach after he completely whiffed on the purpose of an apology.

Regardless of the investigation's findings, it might be better if the Flames simply parted ways with their head coach now amidst this PR debacle. Sorry, Bill Peters, but this "apology" simply misses the point.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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