The Price To Play

I catch myself staring at sports headlines with my mouth open and my head shaking.  I can’t believe a lot of the things that occur.  Whether it’s a bad trade or someone acting out on social media or a player being a fool on the field; sports leave me with that blank look on my face.

It’s a blank look because I can’t understand how athletes get away with these things and just to clarify I’m not quick to throw down the “blame the athlete” card.  I realize there’s only so much time that a player has in the “League,” no matter which league that may be.  When most careers are only a few years long and the money is there it means that they have to grab it while they can.

On the flip side of that argument that doesn’t mean that you can go out and totally get wrecked and drive through a wall without repercussions.  Just because you are the starting safety for an NFL team doesn’t mean its carte blanche to go hog wild and expect preferential treatment everywhere and at anytime.  This is one of those topics that come up quite a bit when a famous or popular athlete has a run-in with the law.  It is especially a hot button to push when said athlete is caught on camera.

The topics range from the absolutely astounding ones like Johnny Manziel blowing opportunity after opportunity in Cleveland by showing up in videos with alcohol after his trip to rehab in February 2015 to the awful ones like Ray Rice’s notorious domestic abuse case played out in public to Aroldis Chapman’s domestic abuse allegations coming to light.  Since 2000, the San Diego Union-Tribune has kept track of NFL players who have been arrested for serious offenses.  Most of these you or I may not have heard of because they aren’t people like Manziel or Ray Rice or even Greg Hardy.  What’s even more disturbing is the following sentence:

“The list cannot be considered comprehensive in part because some incidents may not have been reported and some public records proved to e elusive.”


The more I’ve followed sports as I’ve gotten older, the more questions I’ve begun to ask about how these things are allowed to continue to happen.  I see a guy in the NFL who had serious domestic abuse allegations with photographic evidence that leaked to the media and he is considered a “leader” by his team owner.  Yet, there’s another guy who also had domestic abuse charges and he can’t find a job in the NFL.  The scales don’t seem to balance.

So I ask: is it really about being pro-active about domestic abuse?  Or is it about what have you done for me lately?

If you can play do the blemishes get brushed over?  If you bring in money and line the pockets of the league and the team owner they get put on behavior plans.  The common man (and woman) can look at that and rightly feel slighted.  I’m sure that some employers would not be happy with many of the things that players have been arrested for.  I think there would be some people out of jobs if they did the same thing.

The recent domestic abuse issues with Chapman (closer/relief pitcher) who now appears to be headed to New York has just brought this topic back to the forefront for me.  Hearing that Yankees GM Brian Cashman said the price on Chapman was “modified,” after the trade to the Dodgers fell through when his issues first came to light, leaves me shaking my head.  So Cashman decided that since the price for Chapman was so low he had no choice to go after him?  Even though it’s very possible that Major League Baseball will suspend him.  Then you have headlines like this one: “Here’s why it’s good for Yankees if Aroldis Chapman is suspended.”  Right, so according to it’s a good thing to allegedly fire a weapon in your garage, choke your girlfriend and have the cops called on you.  While he’s not been charged, Major League Baseball has a policy against domestic abuse and they can and will suspend players after investigating the situation.

For all that it’s worth, it seems that people gloss over the domestic abuse but are quick to jump on the back of athletes that are accused of being PED or HGH users.  Al-Jazeera TV released a documentary highlighting evidence that HGH was sent to Peyton Manning’s wife, Ashley, as if we can suddenly assume that he was taking it.  Yes, he was recovering from spinal surgery and going to the same clinic that the HGH was coming from but that doesn’t mean anything.  The guilty until proven innocent theory does apply to the situation, although I believe as a society we neglect it when we feel like it.  For all we know, they are hers and her medical rights have been violated.  How would you feel if your prescriptions were broadcast to the world?

I have no knowledge of what Peyton did or didn’t do, but it seems that as a society we find it easier to forgive domestic abuse than PED or HGH use.  I can’t come up with why that is.  I know we are a “what have you done for me lately” society especially with sports.  The moment a guy loses a step or is easily replaceable, be it through a lower contract player or a trade, you can bet it happens.  Sure we have the ability to not watch sports but how many of us are not going to do it?  It’s not that the whole system is broken; it’s that there are safeguards and rules need to be fixed.  Of course, maybe it’s because everything is so public now, on social media and television and the internet, either way, we know and now it’s time to do something about it.