This has bothered me for as long as I can remember, but especially the last year-2 years. It seems like every week there’s a new story about someone getting in trouble for any number of things: DUI, domestic violence, drug possession, gun possession, driving 143 mph with a 12 year old in the car (looking at YOU Sheldon Richardson you gigantic idiot), etc. It’s hard to pinpoint one reason as to why it happens so much because every individual situation is independent and circumstantial, but I’m going to try to give practical questions, opinions, and thoughts on the matter.
One thing I will say is that whether or not more athletes are actually getting into trouble, you cannot deny that it seems like the problem is worsening day by day. We can partially blame that on social media and the media in general. Everything these guys do is under the microscope now more than ever. No action goes unnoticed, and the bigger starts these guys become, the more careful they need to be with every single thing they do. Information is put out on Twitter instantaneously, and within minutes the whole world knows about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s still speculation or proven facts, every action creates a reaction, and the media will spread it like wildfire. You would THINK that these guys would act more cautiously, especially the ones who have any history of troublemaking.
It’s easy for me to say as someone who has very limited experience of living the rich and famous lifestyle (essentially zero), but I can say without doubt that if I were making the money some of these guys are making that would be reason enough to clean up my act and be professional. Why is it that athletes making millions, tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of dollars continue hanging out in bad crowds and getting into trouble for things that frankly shouldn’t be happening? What I’m trying to say is that if I was making $50 million to go out and play sports, I’d understand the value of my contract and what I mean to the organization, enough so to come to work and work hard and not screw up in my free time. Granted it’s their job and not a hobby but still. They’re being counted on by their teammates, coaches, and millions of fans to PERFORM, which they can’t do if they’re getting arrested. If you’re thinking it seems easy to not fuck up, I completely agree with you. Apparently it’s not that easy though.
A lot of these guys come from very poor upbringings, many of them single parent households, and even that’s not a guarantee. So do they not know any better? Is it because they were surrounded by wrongdoings all through their childhoods so now their attitudes are somewhat molded by that? It almost seems like some of them attract trouble wherever they go, and that’s a serious problem that needn’t be disregarded. They were brought up with little money, so now that they have a lot of it, it seems to be the kiss of death. Perhaps money truly is the root of all evil. Maybe they feel invincible. Maybe it’s the temptation for opportunities that weren’t always on the table for them. And I’m not only talking about one group of people because athletes of all income classes, races, and upbringings are sacrificing their futures with bad decisions every day of the week.
For most of these guys, their whole lives have been revolving around sports. They’re physically and genetically gifted on incredible levels, and because of that fortune, many athletes have been given a free pass on academics, ethics, etc. because of their athletic abilities. The goal is to get to the pros and sign that first rookie paycheck, and for most, it’s more money than they’ve ever seen before. It’s a dream come true for more reasons than one. But does that mean they shouldn’t be held to a higher standard than non-athletes? Are we, as fans, too hard on them? In my opinion, no. They are held to a higher standard because they’re making a boatload of money. Yes, every single thing they do is criticized, sometimes unfairly. But that’s the deal with the devil that they sign off on.
I think there are things that can be done. Perhaps at a younger age, teams/schools/organizations can hire people to pay a little extra attention to the behavior of players off the field. I don’t think certain people need special attention or more attention than others, but the point is that it should not be all about sports. Consequences need to be enforced more seriously at all levels of athletics, and mistakes have to be paid for; accountability. I don’t know man, maybe I’m in the minority here, but it’s pretty clear to me that it’s not a coincidence but an epidemic that’s growing quickly.
With all that being said, these players getting in trouble have nobody to blame but themselves. If they can’t see the peril in getting involved in risky business and fucking up their salaries/jobs/lives, then they deserve what they have coming to them. Their personal lives should remain somewhat personal, right? There’s no need for it to interfere with their jobs. So stop fucking up, I’m sure everyone would appreciate it.
PS – If I’m an agent, my clients don’t ever use Twitter. And if they insist, every tweet needs to be approved by me and me only. And if I’m a coach, I hire someone to monitor the players’ tweets. There’s no dumber way to get in trouble than for tweeting the wrong thing at the wrong time. Inexcusable.