Sports industry needs a course in humanity

John Davidson

John Davidson

Sports as a whole has a major problem. From the college ranks to the professional level, the industry is making a joke of itself.

I am someone who has idolized athletes since I can remember. I was the 5-year-old decked out in sports gear who would cry if I couldn’t watch my team play, but I am disappointed in the lack of responsibility and competence the business of sports displays.

I was probably 10 the first time I can remember being let down by sports. Mark McGwire hit a ton of home runs, and I admired that; who doesn’t love guys hitting the ball 500 feet on a regular basis? But then it came out that everything he had accomplished was due to steroids. I hated him for it. I had a copy of the St. Louis-Dispatch from the day he set the home run record hanging on my wall. I tore it off my wall and buried it in my closet.

Ever since that, it seems like the business spirals more and more out of control each day.

In 2009, Donte Stallworth, an NFL wide receiver, ran a man over and killed him. Stallworth was intoxicated at the time. After serving 26 days in jail, he was released and was on a team playing within a year.

No big deal, right? If he is athletic enough, who cares if he killed someone? At least that is the message I received from the NFL.

Next came all of the controversy surrounding college athletics. Most may think of the lawsuits against the NCAA by former athletes, but I am referring to the way universities such as North Carolina allowed their athletes to enroll in fake classes so they wouldn’t have to worry about grades. Big schools chose to disregard the student aspect of the “student-athlete.”

In 2014, not to be outdone by past years, sports figures decided to embarrass themselves beyond belief.

First, Donald Sterling, the owner of the Clippers, told his mistress to stop bringing minorities to his game because it made him look bad (my words were much more considerate than what was actually said).

After a lengthy process he was eventually removed as the owner of the team and forced to sell.

Back to the NFL, Ray Rice, an NFL running back, was seen in footage over the summer dragging his unconscious girlfriend (now wife) from an elevator.

When he told the NFL he had struck her, they gave him a slap on the wrist in the form of a two-game suspension. The man knocked a woman out in public, but the NFL wasn’t too concerned.

A couple of months later, though, the video from inside the elevator was released. The NFL said they hadn’t seen it until last week, but the police said the NFL had a copy all along.

After the video surfaced, Ray Rice was cut by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

The question I have is what did the NFL think happened in the first place? They knew he struck his wife and knocked her unconscious, so why wasn’t he banned immediately?

The business of sports is now tainted by this attitude of “it’s okay unless somebody on the outside finds out.”

They have to realize that by failing to take appropriate action, the millions upon millions of viewers, especially the younger audience, are finding it more difficult to differentiate right from wrong.