“By the time the player is drafted, there’s a pretty good chance he’s thoroughly spoiled and surrounded by enablers.” – former Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Troy Vincent
“If society in general, the teammates of these athletes, and the athletic organizations do nothing to reduce the occurrence of this violent behavior, then the number of incidents will continue to rise. The male athletes committing these crimes will perpetrate more crimes, and they will continue to be poor role models for young children aspiring to be athletes themselves. Without action, this vicious cycle may never end.” – Athletes and Domestic Violence, Lisa R. Wenzel (1998)
Should athletic teams adopt a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bad behavior by players?
While some may sniff loudly at this point, moving over to the canape table, proclaiming to anyone who will listen that they don’t never pay attention to sports, the truth is that millions of Americans do, and that for many years, athletes have been held up as role models. It is a part of our culture. Ignoring that fact, or pretending intellectual superiority over those who enjoy sports won’t change that fact one iota.
As a guy whose last sports hero was England’s Bobby Charlton, I have always been confused by the idea of millionaires prancing around, being held up as anyone young people should emulate – especially given the level of bad – even stupid or criminal – behavior on the part of so many of them.
We know this – contact sports have become progressively more violent over the past few decades. Just as we might worry about someone returning from a war zone, unable to reconnect with civilian life, we should worry about a man who spends most of his life learning to smash into other men.
Men of any age, apparently.
But it isn’t most athletes who indulge in such behavior – it is the ugly few who, for the most part, get their acts quietly overlooked, for the “good of the program.” Their enablers include coaches, school officials, other players and fans who write letters to newspapers, asking why they are being singled out for punishment.
Many of my friends were jocks in high school, and they would never have done what some athletes are accused of today. In fact, most high school athletes would never dream of assaulting anyone – but all you have to do is Google the subject, and the number of pages which will pop up might just sicken you.
The solution seems pretty obvious, and that is to have a Zero Tolerance Policy for athletes who are accused of, or convicted of, acts of violence. If convicted, they should be banned from the sport for life.
If accused, they should be suspended until the matter has been resolved in the courts.
And then, maybe, we really will have athletes that young people may have a reason to look up to.
Quote of the Day
You can’t depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus. – Mark Twain