Is the Snitch Hotline Petty? Cleveland Doesn’t Think So

I was talking about the snitch hotline to my bf and he was adamant. “Yeah, I’d be a snitch. I’m trying to stay alive and at the same time win a ring. You are hurting me.” BF is inner-city Chicago who doesn’t have time for people like Spencer Dinwiddie, or Rudy Gobert who in a moment of grotesque irony called the hotline “petty.” Perhaps, but considering that Gobert by himself shut down collegiate and professional sports in the northern hemisphere because he was casual and careless, he of all people shouldn’t throw out the petty card. But is he right? Is the snitch hotline petty?

Petty is one of those overused words that social media has appropriated. The traditional definition of petty translates into minor. Something trivial. But social media uses it is a character flaw based on the overdramatization of a minor infraction being made public. However, there is nothing minor about passing the virus to people who are doing the right thing while you are doing the emotional thing, like sneaking some chick into your room or going out to get food. It puts a lot of people and a league in danger.

One more thing about the snitch hotline and its petty rating which on the scale of 1-10 hovers around 2.5. The hotline is a strategic tool if you want to gain an advantage over your opponent because violators are thrust into quarantine protocol which lasts 10 days; it keeps players out of an entire playoff series. The social shame will be enormous as fan bases will never forgive the transgression, nor will some organizations. Players looking for an advantage- which NBA players do as a birthright- have them hunting for any kind of weakness. So Mr. Gobert, no. The use of the hotline is the opposite of petty. It’s a way to move the chess pieces around, regardless of the huge consequences it has for the rule-breakers. It is a practical description of Machiavelli’s “the end justifies the mean.”

But this isn’t just an NBA bubble thing.

The city of Cleveland has its own snitch hotline for the citizens. 216-698-5050. Or, if that’s too direct for you and you skew more passive-aggressive in your communication strategies, then cuyahogacounty.us/maskexperience may be more to your liking.

Here’s how it works. You call in your neighbors not wearing a mask. You call in your friends. And even members of your family. Particularly, you call in strangers. The maskless party then gets a call back to let them know someone has been snitching/complaining about them. Repeated complaints and possibly the sheriff begins an investigation. Violating the mask order in Ohio is punishable with a $750.00 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

It sounds extreme and a violation of civil liberties for the city of Cleveland and the NBA. However, they are not outliers. Other communities, both large and small, have a hotline and not because it is petty. It’s because, on the one hand, you have over 125,000 dead from the virus and over 1.5 million in recovery, who face a long road of health challenges for a sustained period of time. And on the other hand, you have self-absorbed, narcissists who think only of themselves and don’t consider how their actions affect other people. Sometimes, you can’t make a grown person do the right thing and so you need intervention.

Despite their good intentions to keep the bubble sacred, the NBA’s hotline will be misused. Instead of weeding out who is passing the virus around, the hotline will serve as a simplistic model of gamesmanship, kind of like getting a player into foul trouble or getting into his head or tricking him into a technical foul. It’s the NBA’s version of outthinking your opponent. Working smarter, not harder. Being anonymous is the key. Because no one knows who the snitches are, they can throw whoever lacks impulse control under the proverbial bus and benefit from their punishment without reprisal. That’s the beauty of it. I can ruin you and you’ll never know it’s me.

Except, what happens in the dark comes into the light. So snitcher beware.