Atheletes as criminals

thesis The fact that athletes are role models does not correspond with the reality that they often get away with criminal acts.

The growing trend of finding athletes involved with criminal acts is growing at a considerable rate. Though these so-called role models are in the eye of many, the officials and judges elected to determine their guilt usually let these athletes get off. Athletes, though some of them wish not to be, are role models. They are who we watch in our free time, and therefore we would like to be them. I remember watching the now famous Gatorade commercial touring the catchy phrase embodied in tune. Like Mike, if I could be like Mike, and thinking, yeah, Id like to be like Mike. Michael Jordan is who they were implying, and many would argue that they would love to be him.
Since I was a young boy, Ive been involved with sports. I started playing organized football at the age of five, baseball at age seven, and rugby at the age of fifteen. I played basketball for two years in middle school and also wrestled for one of those years. I am what many would classify as an avid sports fan. Sports for me are an outlet. It lets me enjoy something in the way of healthy competition when playing, and relaxation if I attend a sporting event or watch one on television. While watching a particular sporting event, football, I watch players with an admiration of the skills and athleticism that they employ. I pattern myself on the playing field after the athletes that I look up to. This is only on the field. The other ninety-eight percent of my daily time is spent off the field. It is so with the same amount of perception that I pay attention to those athletes who I pattern myself after on the playing field, while they are off the field I pay attention. I pay attention to how these athletes give interviews, or what other hobbies they pursue, or other examples as to what they are doing in their free time. I watch the television shows such as ESPNs The Life, where a television crew follows around a professional athlete all day long documenting what it is they do when they are not playing their respective sport. I pay attention to all these things and often come to this realization; these people are just like me, they play a sport for fun and at times show many of the same characteristic traits that I employ; yet there are two major differences. One, they get paid very large amounts of money to play, in most cases, their favorite sport, and two, they are watched and therefore admired by many, making them famous in their own right. It is with these notions that I find it appalling to think and see that these same people many look up to in admiration, commit acts of crime.
The history of what I personally know as the start of crime in the sports world started in 1919 with the Black Sox Scandal. This crime, although sports related, was based on many of the players on the Chicago White Sox baseball team, eight to be exact, throwing the World Series. Betters paid these players to play poorly, thus allowing these gamblers to bet on the opposing team that was not favored and win a large amount of money. The players were caught in this scam and those that were involved were kicked out of baseball as a result. One of the players suspected to be involved was Shoeless Joe Jackson. Jackson, a popular player at the time, was prohibited from playing professional baseball thus ending what was to be a promising career, all for making a bad decision to take money to play poorly. A popular phrase was coined in relation to this event, and thus is the reason for mentioning Joe Jackson and the incident. Jackson was approached by a young boy after the trial that found the group of players guilty, and they boy was documented in saying, Say it aint so Joe, say it aint so. The young fan couldnt believe that his hero, the person he looked up to, could be involved with something so immoral. This is the same reaction that many have when they hear of a famous athlete committing a crime. We are so shocked and appalled that this person we admire can do something so bad.
Another instance of a sports related crime that is similar in nature as the one previously mentioned, is the situation dealing with Pete Rose. Pete Rose was a player and coach in major league baseball. In the mid-eighties Rose was investigated for having bet on a baseball game in which he was involved both playing and coaching. This is a crime Rose to this day denies having taken part in but after the investigation was conducted, he was banned from major league baseball for the rest of his life. Rose holds the record for most career base hits, a record that should consider him for placement in the baseball hall of fame, but he is not eligible due to his involvement in gambling. This is such a shame for this athlete to not be able to be put among the best in his sport although he has shown the capability to perform better then most of his compatriots already in the hall of fame. However since those off-field antics he has been and still is viewed with animosity all for trying to make more money.
Another instance of a sports-related crime is the O.J. Simpson murder case. Simpson was tried for the double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her estranged lover, Ronald Goldman. After months and months of courtroom deliberations Simpson was found not guilty. This doesnt sound bad in effect but since the trial was so highly publicized and every trial deliberation was televised, it was in full view of the public that the evidence and the verdict didnt add up. The evidence against Simpson was stacked in his disadvantage of being acquitted. Blood was found in his vehicle matching both victims and bloody gloves, said once to have been Simpsons, were found at the scene of the crime. Simpson escaped the fiasco with having bought himself the best defense team in the country and in my opinion, got away with murder. Now what kind of portrait does this paint for our younger sports fans. Its telling out younger generation that if they become rich and famous through athletic talent you too can kill someone out of a jealous rage and get away with it.
Another tale of a sports star gone bad is the story of Daryl Strawberry. Daryl Strawberry was a star pitcher for both New York baseball teams spanning from the mid-eighties until about two years ago. His career on the field is one to be admired yet off of the field he was plagued with drug-related arrests and convictions. He has had to spend time in jail for his addiction to crack-cocaine and he has also received fines and probation. He has been banned from playing baseball ever again due to his drug use and major league baseballs three strikes and youre out policy meaning if you are caught with any drug three times you are banned from the league. This I think is a horrible policy on the part of major league baseball. The rule in my opinion should not be so stringent and should be re-written. It allows these players to be around for longer even if theyve already been convicted of using illegal drugs. They shouldnt allow it to be so forgiving.If you break the rule once you are out. Enough said. There would be no repeat effects and the younger generation of sports fans would see that if you mess with illegal drugs you will be expelled from a sport you love so much.
All of these instances are a very minuscule percentage of the real number of sports-related crimes. It is not the amount of these crimes but the substance of their nature with which young people see and are convinced that they too can commit crimes and get away without having to suffer consequences that a normal citizen would have to endure. These athletes we look up to with such high regard are who we want to be like as young athletes. But what these bad apples are teaching the younger generation is that if something gets hard, as most things do, it is okay to take the easy way out and resort to gambling, drugs, or even violence to solve those problems. Many times due to their social status they get off facing little consequence or none at all. This is the wrong message to be sending. We want more Mikes in the world and we want them to sing that song and follow it. Not to take away from those stories of athletic success but it is normally with more enthusiasm that the public and press pay attention to the negative rather then the positive in most situations. Since it is more noticeable to do wrong then right, we must stress the success stories to our younger generation and give more examples of the positive things athletes do and chastise those who commit crimes and therefore upset the whole flow of the sports world.


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