Athletes Off the Field

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Athletes’ Hardships off the Field
The life of an athlete has changed significantly over the years. Their salaries have increased along with their popularity. But possibly the most considerable change has been in the culture. It seems that every day on ESPN we here about another athlete getting in trouble. Society loves to put athletes up on this metaphorical pedestal, but they love even more to watch them fall off. Of course there are athletes that we can look up to as model citizens, but the group’s image as a whole is most definitely suffering. When it comes to athletes, there is a lot more to it than what is seen on the field. Growing up, sports are used to teach lessons of hard work, discipline, and most of all teamwork. These three attributes are useful on and off the field. But what happens when natural talent allows an individual to succeed without developing these attributes? This individual will prosper without ever learning the true meaning of sport. Natural ability can be a curse to most athletes. They take their talent for granted and do not set goals to become better. Natural talent can only take one so far before their lack of hard work, discipline, and teamwork turns into their downfall. The off-the-field life of an athlete is one of partying, spending absurd amounts of money, and run-ins with the law. The development of this lifestyle evidently begins in college and eventually affects most athletes’ professional careers in a way that usually leads to their demise.

Out of all groups of athletes, college athletes seem to be the biggest troublemakers. In 2010, there were 85 college athletes arrested on serious charges (Benedict par 4). Those numbers do not include misdemeanor arrests and only include basketball and football players. The fact that college kids are getting in trouble is no surprise, but the numbers of arrests are increasing. Along with this increase in arrests, comes a rapidly changing culture in college athletics. More college games are being televised and these athletes that are teenagers are becoming superstars. For some, this stardom can become a detriment to their success. The party scene becomes more desirable, because they are aware of their popularity. Being the “big man on campus” can lead to some athletes’ downfall. College is supposed to be the best four years of your life and it is certainly understandable that college kids want to have a good time, but at what cost? Most of these athletes are going to school for free just to play a game. Being an athlete is not a right, but a privilege. Their choices off the field can shape one’s perspective of an entire university. When these athletes run into problems off the field, disciplinary actions will follow. Universities are responsible for disciplining the players due to the fact that the NCAA currently has no uniform conduct policy for its athletes (Lockhart 120). There are rules upon rules concerning improper benefits, but not a single one that pertains to the arrest of an athlete (Lockhart 120). This policy of leaving the disciplinary actions up to the university can be dangerous. At what point does the integrity of the program become more important than the success of that program? The universities have a vested interest in the success of their athletic programs (Lockhart 121). Depending on the university, punishments for violations tend to be pretty lenient. Athletes will not learn from their mistakes and are bound to repeat their actions knowing that the university has their back.

Lately, the National Football League’s image has developed into one of recklessness and irresponsibility. Ironically, the popularity of NFL has only increased. There is no doubt that football is currently the most popular sport in America. Obviously the players’ reckless behavior is not the reason for the growing popularity, but it has most certainly not affected it. This off-season alone there were 31 players arrested (NFL par 1). This is an...
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