Pro teams should be more stringent with punishment
Professional sports teams should be more stringent when it comes to punishing athletes for violation of team, or league, rules. Athletes always are getting arrested for participation in illegal activity; however, it is quite clear that suspension from play and/or fines are not working.
For the average American, if our employers punished us in some form for doing an illegal activity, we would try our hardest to not commit the offense again. However, this is not the case with professional athletes. Why not? It is simple — their employers are not as stringent as they could, and quite frankly, should be.
Sure, you fine a National Football League (NFL) player a certain amount of money for a drug paraphernalia arrest, but the reality is that these players are making millions a season.
Let us take Seattle Seahawks safety Winston Guy for example. Guy was suspended four weeks this past season and lost $97,500, according to a report by Pro Football Talk, part of the NBC Sports Network. The rookie violated the NFL’s policy regarding anabolic steroids and related substances, per PFT.
One easy and simple way to put an end to failed drug tests is to make it hurt the player more than it hurts the team. Instead of making it a four-week — or several days for those in the National Hockey League (NHL), National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) — suspension and a loss of nearly $100,000, why not assess the aforementioned fine and suspension, along with a demotion. If the player is a starter, demote them to a second or third string roster spot and make them earn their way back into the starting position. Make them prove to everybody affiliated with the organization that they are sincerely apologetic for their mistakes and only want to bring positive talk in the mouths of the media into the atmosphere.
According to a database compiled by the San Diego Union-Tribune, around 30 NFL players have been arrested since Super Bowl XLVII on February 3, 2013. Unfortunately, there is no database — to my knowledge — that allows us to track how many players across all four major sports leagues have been suspended, or fined, for violation of team, or league, rules.
Teams should make it really hurt the athlete, instead of the team, when the athlete is arrested, uses a racial slur, or is accused of a serious crime. When a player does any of the aforementioned, it brings down the team with distractions. All the media wants to talk about at press conferences is the incident, how it impacts the team and all that hoopla. Not only does it bring distraction, it also brings a negative spotlight upon the team.
Maybe some of the players serve time in jail, but let us look at reality. A majority of the time, the players can cut a plea deal that leads to probation or community service — the latter of which is dandy. However, it should be mandatory among all teams that more severe punishments be served. I believe a hefty fine (around the $50,000 to $100,000 range — depending on the offense), suspension from games, as well as community service hours, the player will be known around the community as one who gives back to the community — which is how it should be.
From hosting a youth clinic of their own, to participating in a team-sponsored event, to participating in an event organized by a charity or community leader, the arrested players should take part in at least a total of 400 to 500 hours. Maybe it does sound like too much to handle, but they have an entire offseason and time off during their suspension. If they have time to beat their girlfriend or do drugs, they should have time to pay up for their actions.
Kudos to the Philadelphia Eagles for fining wide receiver Riley Cooper an undisclosed amount after a video of him using a racial slur at a concert surfaced on the internet and for excusing him from recent team activities to focus solely on receiving counseling.
Teams should not suffer from the actions of idiotic players because they should not be happening in the first place. Perhaps if teams become more stringent and make it known from the beginning that negative spotlight from idiotic action will not be taken lightly, the players will not get into trouble.
George Harvey, an intern for Courier Publications, lives in Coral Springs, Fla., except in the summer, when he resides in Warren. The incoming Coral Springs Christian School junior has had a passion for sports journalism since a young age. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.