Overwatch League Player Gets Three-Game Suspension And "Streaming Privileges Revoked" For Racist Gesture

Illustration for article titled iOverwatch /iLeague Player Gets Three-Game Suspension And Streaming Privileges Revoked For Racist Gesture
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The Overwatch League’s leaked code of conduct gives Blizzard and the OWL an incredible amount of control over players, including anything that happens on their own streams, so part of the latest punishment for a heated gaming moment comes as no surprise. After the Philadelphia Fusion’s Josh “Eqo” Corona made a slant-eye gesture and said “I am Korean” on a recent stream, the team announced his punishment today. In addition to the usual fine and suspension of $3,000 and three games, the team is banning him from streaming for 10 weeks:

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Corona also apologized in a typed letter and said he’d be donating an additional $3,000 to the Anti-Defamation League.

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DISCUSSION

Going to offer a potentially unpopular opinion here, but please bear with me and read the whole thing (I know I’m long-winded; I apologize for that):

It seems to me (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that most of these streamers and pro gamers are relatively young (my read is generally late teens to early twenties).

I’ll be the first to admit I was an idiot at that age. I wasn’t a racist (I grew up in a military family, and early exposure to persons from all walks of life made being a racist fuckbag something you either consciously chose not to be—or that you kept to yourself when you were in public if you didn’t want to get your ass handed to you and have your military parent have to account for your horseshit), but I definitely did and said things that nearly-forty-year-old me looks back on and shakes his head over. One of those things was the use of the term “gay” to mean, “stupid, undesirable, or not worthy.”

...I also used “retarded” pejoratively when I was younger.

My youth didn’t excuse those things, just as the youth of these young folks doesn’t excuse their behavior; hateful language is hateful language, full stop, and one type is not better or worse than the other—it’s just hateful.

I grew out of that shit, and I learned why what I was saying was so hurtful, even if I didn’t intend it to be (I was definitely one of those teenagers in the 90s who tried the, “but I’m not trying to bag on homosexual people when I call something ‘gay,’ it’s just slang” excuse, and I fully understand why that’s such a bullshit cop-out)—but I also had the benefit of being in my teens and very early twenties at a time when YouTube and other streaming services didn’t exist.

What I’m getting at is this: This industry (pro gaming/streaming) trades on putting young folks who are very much at the beginning of their lives in front of a live audience of thousands (and potentially tens or hundreds of thousands, depending upon the event/popularity of the stream) and expects them to be 100% “on” at all times—even in their personal streaming behavior.

As part of their employment contract, their employers certainly have a right to expect this—the kids are representatives of their employers, the streaming service, and their sponsors—and so they deserve any repercussions they receive for racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, or otherwise hateful language/actions/behaviors.

But I do think we need to hold off on writing them off as lost causes, as I’m seeing some in the comments doing. I had a chance to grow out of my shit; I learned from it, I know much better now, and I actively encourage others not to use the language I used as a younger man—these kids are having to learn those same lessons in the spotlight.

Yes, they’re being paid, and yes, they must and should suffer consequences for their behavior—but don’t give them up as people who should just be written off forever. Give them the chance to learn, to grow past their behaviors, and to get better; they either will, or they won’t (folks like PewDiePie/the Paul brothers would be excellent examples of folks who refuse to learn from their own shit)—and if they fail/refuse to learn, THEN you write them off.

Not before.