Unsportsmanlike conduct: Athletes should be held to normal standards

Editor's Column: Shelby Neubeck, Sports Editor

When I think about athletes, a few words come to mind: Respect, dedication, teamwork, and most of all self-discipline.

When did those become qualities we left on the playing field? I have a lot of respect for what high-quality athletes do in their field, but all that respect is lost when I realize the individual they are outside of an athlete is anything but admirable.

I’ve always seen athletes that had respect for their coaches, which extended to a respect for any authority figure and people overall.

Now, it’s hard to come across an athlete with respect for his own teammates. I don’t expect athletes to be perfect or religiously-guided because, let’s face it, we all have our flaws. But, when another athlete—teammate or not—is injured in any sport, you take a knee or, if possible, help out. This small gesture is becoming a rare sight.

When did it become okay to be a first-class athlete but a mediocre person? I’ve been a big fan of the University of Alabama’s football program ever since I can remember. I’d even go as far as to say that Paul “Bear” Bryant is the reason I decided to get into sports media.

However, recently four of their players got arrested for robbery and fraud. After being so proud of the Tide’s National Championship win, I felt ashamed.

I witnessed such greatness on the field and a month later all these players want to do is throw it down the drain. Thankfully, Nick Saban suspended them indefinitely.

But, how can professional athletes get arrested for domestic violence, dog fighting, aggravated assault, robbery or fraud, yet continue playing?

For example, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who, after being charged with domestic violence for injuring his mother, went right back to playing for the Cowboys.

Then there is former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick who got released from his contract with the Falcons after his arrest for dog fighting in 2009. He didn’t get suspended from the NFL; Vick currently plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Any other person would have lost their job over charges like these.  So, why aren’t these players getting rejected? And what in the world does it take to get suspended from the NFL?