Athletes behaving badly

By Timothy Rollins
web posted February 7, 2000

What’s with professional athletes these days? We have John Rocker of the Atlanta Braves making racist remarks and getting suspended for it. We also have a number of football players who cannot seem to work and play well with others, most notably Rae Carruth of the Carolina Panthers and Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, both of whom have been charged with murder. Carruth allegedly hired a hit man to kill his pregnant girlfriend, and Lewis is being held in the deaths of two men following the Super Bowl. While the prosecutor is out on Lewis, the prosecution in North Carolina has indicated they are seeking the death penalty on Carruth.

In addition, we have other incidents with a couple of Buffalo Bills players charged with sexually assaulting two off-duty police officers and a Denver Broncos player who struck a topless dancer – and that’s just this season that just ended. Not to mention that Mike Tyson continues to remain the number one poster child for unbridled violence in just about every form imaginable. Why do these people feel that celebrity and large paychecks give them license to do as they darn well please?

All too often, people in our society tend to shower their attention on those who bring out the worst in human nature – people who despite either their celebrity or paychecks, are in reality the dregs of said society, and who would be shunned if they weren’t either infamous or notorious. After all, look no further than Dennis Rodman, who was fired by the Los Angeles Lakers, with the Lakers being none the worse for wear.

What these people fail to realize is that where much is given, much is required and should be given back to those who make this success possible. An excellent example of an athlete who gave back is Dale Murphy. A two-time National League MVP (1982 and 1983) and Gold Glove winner who spent 17 years in the majors, he was never known to turn down a request for an autograph. Murphy knew well the importance of giving back to the community – so much so, that when he was traded to Philadelphia, he took an ad out in the Atlanta papers thanking the fans for treating him and his family so well and making them feel at home while they were there.

Sensitivity training will not eradicate this problem of misbehaving athletes anytime soon – at least as far as the current crop of players is concerned. It’s about taking responsibility for oneself and one’s actions and it’s a lesson that today’s athletes and celebrities as well as the rest of us need to learn. Such action needs to be ongoing and continuous in order to reach full effectiveness.

Timothy Rollins is a contributing columnist for Ether Zone Magazine. © 2000 Timothy Rollins.

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