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Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead

The following article was posted on March 27th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 3 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 3

The Benchwarmer

Athletes are pushing the limits of morality

BY KRISTINA SEWELL

All right, let’s get down to it. I know my last few commentaries from the bench have been fairly critical of the world of sports. Normally, I’m not prone to lengthy rants, and there are plenty of positive aspects to sports.

But! It would seem that the moral code of modern athletes is pretty much nonexistent at this point. Instead, morality has been replaced by abhorrent and adolescent behavior; athletes evidently think they’re above the laws of us lesser mortals.

I have to tell you, I can’t stand it.

With that in mind, I have to stand up on my bench and rant because apparently no one else is willing to say anything. In fact, our refusal to speak up is a part of the problem.

Take, for instance the recent rape case in Ohio involving two teenage boys (Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond) who were accused and convicted of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl and taking pictures/videos and Tweeting while committing the crime.

As it so happens, these two boys were players for the high school football team who had “promising college careers.” Side note—I’m not sure how promising their college lives could have been if they were dumb enough to text and Tweet while committing a lurid crime, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’ve heard it reported that there were a number of administrators, teachers, and coaches who failed to report the crime to the police although they were aware of what had happened. If that’s true, they failed to come forward on the rape out of a perverted attempt to protect these “gifted” athletes.

Just like in California, there’s this thing called the Mandated Reporter Law, which applies to educators and coaches; it means if some such person in authority has any knowledge of a crime taking place among students, child abuse, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts, he or she is required under federal law to report the crime. To disregard this law is a felony.

And here, my fellow sports fans, we are now seeing the impacts of a much larger problem among athletes.

Unfortunately, it’s a tale as old as sports itself. Over the course of the last few decades—across the MLB, NBA, and NFL—athletes have committed a wide array of crimes. From drunk driving, assault, and theft to murder, athletes are pushing the limits of what’s acceptable behavior.

It started in professional sports, a dichotomous environment of rules and regulations versus money and a lot of fame. A “win at all costs” mentality is fostering an above-the-law mindset in players. We’ve seen it with the increased use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs, illegal equipment, and outright cheating from players. Slowly but surely, this mindset has made its way down to collegiate players—the promise of millions and glory at the forefront of their minds while moral code cools on the back burner.

We’ve had Duke lacrosse, the Penn State debacle, Michael Vick and animal abuse, and Adam “Pacman” Jones—just to name a few. These athletes live lives that either lead them to crime or into sketchy situations where they’re accused of crimes, and all because of their skill on the field, they’ve been given second, third, and fourth chances to redeem themselves. If I had been a star player instead of a Benchwarmer, I would have had a stash of “get out of jail free cards,” all because of my athletic abilities.

Disturbingly enough, the problem has now trickled down to high school athletes who are following in the foot steps of their favorite players, adopting the attitude that they’re above common society, and the cycle has perpetuated to the point that people are protecting these elitists.

Now, from my understanding, everyone is created equal, and in society, we are all expected to abide by the laws and suffer the consequences if we don’t: Whether black, white, brown, short, or tall, the law shouldn’t allow for exceptions.

Athletes are paid outrageous amounts of money and are revered as gods for their athletic prowess, but at the base of it all, they’re human. They put their pants on the same way as you and I; they bleed the same color.

So where in any laws does it say athletes get second chances and that they don’t have to behave the same as everyone else? Apparently, we don’t have “get out of jail free card” privileges.

Athletes become successful by working hard and staying determined. In a perfect world, they should act as role models because what they’re role modeling now is encouraging a selfish attitude; compassion and a normal sense of right and wrong are absent.

And sadly enough, this problem is found in places where people are undoubtedly making cover ups and pay offs to protect their investments—the athletes are not alone in their guilt.

The bottom line: It all has to stop.No one is above the law, or at least no one should be. I don’t care if you can hit a ball 400 feet—that doesn’t give you license to go out and drive recklessly any more than I should be allowed to drink four shots of booze and get in a car.

Now I can’t speak for everyone, but to me, the law and its parameters are a black-and-white issue. Making exceptions for athletes is a slippery slope that will lead to further hurt, scandal, and a deterioration of integrity.

From my place on the bench, we are fostering a dangerous attitude in our athletes.

But what do I know? I’m just a Benchwarmer.

Contact Staff Writer Kristina Sewell at ksewell@santamariasun.com.