Monday, November 29, 2021

Kenny Florian & Why The Cover Up Is Worse Than The Crime

As noted earlier, former three time UFC championship challenger turned UFC and Fox Sports analyst/color commentator has been suspended by the latter entity. His crime? He plagiarized large portions of his technical breakdown of T.J. Dillashow vs. Dominick Cruz from boxing analyst Lee Wylie’s video breaking down 1040s boxer Willie Pep. Twitter personality The Naked Gambler deserves credit for pointing out exactly what Florian did:

Florian then decided to have a chat with Naked Gambler via direct message, where he explained that it was all a simple misunderstanding…or at least in his head it was:

This introduced us to Florian’s defense, which he later used in his public “apology;” That he keeps a running list of notes on martial arts technique, has for years, and it’s very jumbled with little effort to keep track of what he got where or which thoughts were his own. In and of itself, that would be fine, and it’s totally believable that he keeps those kinds of notes. But…then he went on to say that he must have forgotten that the notes on footwork taken from Wylie weren’t his own.

There are a few problems with this. The first is that even if he knew that even if he genuinely didn’t remember that the footwork notes weren’t his, since he did remember that not all of the notes were his, he’s still knowingly plagiarizing. Even if he didn’t know that those specific notes weren’t his, he knew there was a reasonable likelihood that it was the case.

However, in this specific instance, that doesn’t pass the smell test, either. Why? Wylie’s breakdown only went up on December 3rd, just last month. In addition, being a video (with Wylie’s notes contained in the video as on-screen graphics) as opposed to text in an article, Florian couldn’t have just absent-mindedly copied and pasted it without giving much thought to it. He would have devoted a good bit of time to transcribing the text by hand in the weeks leading up to the article, where he says that he “forgot” that the words weren’t his own.

Soon enough, the story hit Deadspin. At that point, it was probably just a matter of time that the story would really blow up (if it already happened), so Florian issued what he termed an apology:

Note the wording: Florian said that he was ““referenc[ing] perspectives on [something], which were originally articulated by [someone else],” when he was outright lifting Wylie’s analysis word for word. He was deliberately mischaracterizing what he did to obfuscate as well as minimize what he did. Worse, according to two tweets from Naked Gambler, he had attempted to defuse the situation by promising to try to get Wylie a job at Fox Sports.

Does this sound like someone who made a genuine mistake he was sorry for? Or does sound like someone who, for reasons known only to him, knowingly plagiarized large portions of an article and scrambled to cover it up when he got caught? He buried himself deeper every time he addressed the situation, and it’s a miracle that so far, he’s just suspended.

As for Lee Wylie? The poor guy who donates his time to creating cool analysis videos, who had his work stolen by a well-compensated television personality, has been made to feel like a jerk for no good reason:

Nice work, Kenny.

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