Open Mic: Is Race an Issue in Covering Criminal Activities?

Joe WillettSenior Writer IJune 2, 2008

Lately there has been a lot of publicity surrounding black athletes in criminal trials. Many of these players were setting purely negative examples in the media and in the clubhouse.

Despite the negative press, it would be wrong to argue that the disciplined players have been punished too extremely for their actions.

The punishments line up well with the crimes that were committed. My problem can be found with the idea that different treatment is given to black and white players.

The first example used to demonstrate my point is Michael Vick.

He was the head of a dog-fighting ring, and was therefor punished for his actions. PETA was disgusted, and did what they always did.

SportsCenter had a field day, with hour by hour coverage of what Michael Vick was doing at that very moment as we saw the same images of him leaving the courthouse about a million times.

The coverage was beyond excessive, as we were bombarded with information we didn't need, didn't want, and that generally didn't matter.

Next point: Adam "Pacman" Jones.

At this point, he should be forgotten about. He keeps popping up as he attempts to get reinstated and gets traded to the Cowboys.

We hear a new part to this saga every day, and it seems to be overtaking real sports coverage as we worry about what this possibly good corner back (we don't know if he is good because he hasn't had a lot of playing time) will finally get to play after two years out of the league.

It's truly getting annoying, and I could care less if he ever plays again.

Here is where I start to make connections between black and white athletes.

Sean Taylor was killed in a botched robbery because a couple of kids thought he wouldn't be home since it was the middle of the season.

But since Taylor was injured, he wasn't traveling with the team and was staying home for the week.

As soon as he was killed, there was an article saying that his thuggish past is what caused this unfortunate event.

The writer assumed that he was continuing his thug ways like he was as a teenager, whereas most people knew that he was cleaning up his act so that he could be a better father to his newborn child.

The writer has since apologized because there has been no proven link between the assailants and Taylor.

Also last year, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was killed in a car accident.  Initial reports said that he was driving at or barely above the speed limit and that there was no trace of drugs or alcohol on the scene.

However, a few days after the accident, reports came out that Hancock's blood alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit of .08, and he was actually driving 68 mph in a 55 mph zone.

This got nowhere near the press that Taylor's incident got.

People assumed that Taylor did himself in by being a thug when he was not.

People assumed that Hancock was innocent when he was drunk and speeding.

This says to me that we care more about black athletes and they are held to a different standard, and are looked at differently in certain situations.

These things should not be happening in a place that is called a "melting pot" because of the diversity that is in America.

We shouldn't be looking at black athletes and people as automatically guilty while white people are automatically innocent.

We need to fix the double standard that exists in sports, and in society.  Only then can equality finally reign supreme.

I'm Joe W.

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