Professional Athletes: Role Models or Criminals?

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Professional Athletes: Role Models or Criminals?
Professional athletes have been role models for children and adults alike since the beginning of time. They are often thought of superhuman, celebrities, and to some—even Gods due to their incredible physical strength, and unnatural talent. Professional athletes are given many things that the average American only dreams about; ranging from multi-million dollar paychecks, expensive cars, high profile romances, to exotic vacations. Oh, and being above the law. Numerous high profile players have been arrested multiple times throughout their career, escaping with nothing more than a slap on the wrist from law enforcement, or the NFL. Even those players convicted, and sent to prison for their “sentence” will be able to return to the football field after being released. Over the past decade the incidents regarding player’s conduct have increased dramatically all the while dragging the NFL’s reputation and ethics through the mud. It begs the question--should these athletes who are the role models for millions, be above the law simply because they are entertainers and celebrities? The answer is no. In my opinion a drastic change needs to happen immediately regarding this growing problem. No longer should players be able to go unpunished for committing crimes. However, to find the solution for this growing predicament—is to establish what factors contribute directly to it. The problem goes beyond the athletes being able to go unpunished for committing crimes. It starts with the league’s menial punishments, team owner’s irresponsible player management, fan attitudes, and the character of the player’s themselves. On the other hand, there are people, including; fans, agents, and of course the players themselves, who believe that the punishments being given now are too severe. I would just like to show those people another view of this debate—the view of an everyday person. In April 2007 NFL commissioner Roger Goodell put into effect new policies regarding player conduct based on the high number of players being arrested for major crimes. Due to the nature of the transgressions NFL officials began to worry about losing fans deterred by the league’s image. The new policy included longer suspensions, heavier fines, and team accountability for their players committing crimes. The new policy includes “requiring teams to pay the league a portion of the salaries forfeited by players suspended for violating policies regarding personal conduct” (Schrotenboer). Goodell’s goal is to hold team owners and managers partially responsible for the actions of the players on their roster. This forces the decision makers to put more consideration into drafting and signing troubled athletes, because now it is their money—not just their image at stake. Although the policy is a step in the right direction it is not doing near enough to clean up the league because talent is more important than character to a team. One example of this is Cincinnati Bengal’s receiver Chris Henry who was released by the team only after being arrested six times between December 2005 and March 2009 for crimes ranging from possession of marijuana, sex with a minor, DUI, and possession of and aggravated assault with a gun (Brandt). However, even with his arrest log reading like a novel, Henry has served a total of just eighty-eight days in prison for his crimes. This sentence came only after the second incident concerning relations with a minor. But, the Bengals kept him on the roster, even though four of the six incidents occurred after Goodell’s new conduct policy was put into effect. As far as the harsher punishment Goodell promised, Henry received a total a three game suspension for each of the incidents before being cut following the most recent assault arrest (Carpenter, Maske). Who should be to blame for allowing this criminal to go free and continue making his millions? The ultimate blame needs to be placed on not...
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