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The Sportmeisters Cheap Shot: Are Athletes Above The Law?

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 23:  Wide receiver Plaxico Burress #17 of the New York Giants warms up for the game with the Arizona Cardinals on November 23, 2008 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Giants won 37-29.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The SportmeistersAnalyst IAugust 16, 2009

By Ryan of The Sportmeisters

With the signing of Michael Vick by the Philadelphia Eagles and the ensuing media coverage that happened from it, we once again have to ponder if athletes deserve these second chances.

Back in an earlier episode of the Happy Hour Podcast, Justin and myself, along with our guest Matt, former FSU Student Coach, discussed how so many college athletes fall on the wrong side of the law and whether or not they get passed through because of their athletic status. Well, now these athletes are making it to the next level and they’re still causing problems, but they’re still getting extra chances.

For us non-athletic personnel, if we committed a crime, such as DUI and manslaughter (Donte’ Stallworth) or carrying and firing a concealed weapon (Plaxico Burress), we’d be thrown the book. Instead, Stallworth got a joke of a sentence and had to pay some money to the family for killing a man, a father, brother, son to many people. Sure, he is currently suspended from the NFL, but he still has time left to earn a roster spot and, a cool million dollar salary before the end of his playing career once he is reinstated. This man took a life—shouldn’t, at the very least, his NFL life be taken away?

In Florida, they have the 10-20-Life program with guns (I only know this because I’m from Florida). If I was in a nightclub in South Florida and fired my weapon, it would be pretty certain I would be doing at least ten years in jail. Plaxico Burress makes million of dollars, he couldn’t hire a bodyguard?

A person does not bring a loaded weapon with them unless they have a specific reason for it. He’s still awaiting to go on trial, and the New York District Attorney wants jail time, and has publicly announced that. If this was anyone but a former NFL wide receiver, jail time would be a given already.

Parents raise their kids to follow good role models, and in most cases an athlete does fall under that mold. However, kids also watch television, including news and sports channels.

These same channels are the ones publicizing the negativity of these athletes, and keeping away from the heartwarming stories of good deeds and charity. How is a child supposed to find a good role model when the only ones on TV are the wrong people to follow? Children are impressionable, and athletes feel their invincible. They feel they can commit a crime, but be given a slap on the wrist and go forward. Kids see that, and think the same thing.

Just once, I’d like to see an athlete who committed a crime say, “I was wrong, and I deserve to be judged as a member of the general public, not a multi-million dollar athlete.” Instead, we idolize and place athletes on pedestals and give them tons of chances. Athletes then feel entitled to a higher standard of living and more leniencies in punishment. So, to answer my question in the title, athletes are above the law, but it is because we, as society, put them there.

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