“My Bad”- The Art of Mea Culpa

As much as I think nothing surprises me anymore, I am proven wrong almost daily.  I’ve been following the Donald Sterling scandal with interest because of my fondness for the NBA and my overwhelming fondness for equality.  I was pleased that as an organization the NBA didn’t sweep this under the rug and took action by banning him for life.

What utterly displeased me and had me quite dumbstruck was the interview of Sterling by Anderson Cooper.  As comical as it was to see someone simultaneously shoot themselves in the foot while exploding into a giant ball of indignant flames, I was still quite incensed.

To watch him feign regret and then pick up one of the most beloved players of all time  and throw him under the team bus was downright astonishing. While I can appreciate a good PR train wreck when I see one…. this had me decidedly addled.

In thinking about writing this, I looked up the definitions and etymology of  “sorry” and “apology.”  Interestingly, I was disappointed to find that apology comes from the Greek word apologia which means a speech in one’s own defense.  So in this case, Sterling was actually “apologizing” by definition.  As for sorry, it  means feeling regret or sorrow, which in this case….whatever.

I wanted to name this post The Art of Apology but now I see the true origins of that word and it doesn’t work.  Why?  It doesn’t work because defense shouldn’t be a part of admitting when you are wrong.  As a person who has endured both physical and emotional abuse, in my book the worst thing you can do is qualify or justify your wrongdoings.  An “I’m Sorry” should never be followed by a “but.”

When I was a younger mother there were times I found myself sounding more Mommy Dearest than Mommy.  I’d lose my temper and the screeching would commence…followed by tears.  We’ve all had those moments.  Frustration, exhaustion, hunger may have set in and patience is in short supply and we find ourselves snapping at our kids.  I heard myself one day saying something along the lines of, “I’m sorry I lost my temper and yelled at you but Mommy is tired….blah, blah, blah…”  As I heard that coming out of my mouth…..I instantly regretted it.  What kind of example was I setting?  There was no excuse for acting like an ass….

From that day forward, I wish I could say I didn’t ever let the Bitch out but I’d be lying. I did, however, change the way I delivered a mea culpa to them.  It now goes along the lines of, “I’m sorry I yelled at you.  I was wrong.  I shouldn’t have done that.”

It may be short in words but think of it’s length as being inversely proportionate to its conviction.

For you Mr. Sterling, I would suggest the following:

My bad

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 “My bad” is an American idiom that was made popular by basketball players in playground games in the 1970s and 1980s. It usually means “my fault”, “my mistake”, “I apologize”[1]or “mea culpa“. It gained popularity with urban players of streetball and then spread into mainstream popularity.[2]


  1. Jump up^ Steinberg, Dan. “D.C. Sports Bog – Manute Bol and “my bad””The Washington Post. Retrieved June 21, 2010.
  2. Jump up^ Pullum, Geoffrey K. (December 7, 2005). “Language Log: Pick-up basketballism reaches Ivy League faculty vocabulary”. Retrieved June 21, 2010.


Of course to genuinely issue a “my bad” you first have to believe that what you did was wrong.