Being in the public eye isn't necessarily the easiest endeavor when you're a professional athlete—and still growing up.
Recently Matt Leinart, the Arizona Cardinals quarterback, and Vince Young, the Tennessee Titans quarterback, were both scrutinized heavily by the media for posing for photos in which they performed activity that is generally seen as "normal" for today's youth.
However, these actions are not what athletes—especially those who are supposedly the faces of franchises—should be doing.
While I listened intuitively to what the big names of sports media had to say about the utter stupidity of these two young quarterbacks, as a 19-year-old I couldn't help but feel some sympathy towards Leinart and Young.
The activities they were participating in are all the rage at college campuses across the country. Binge drinking and mingling with attractive women are exactly what just about every heterosexual male aged 17-25 wants to do in his free time—so as far as morality goes, these two have done nothing wrong in my eyes.
Letting someone photograph them performing such acts is where these two faltered and showed signs of immaturity, as well as a lack of judgement—and even after the media pounded the living hell out of this story, another young athlete let himself fall to power of a "friendly photo."
Eric Gordon, known to some as the 2008 Big Ten Freshman of the year and future NBA lottery pick and superstar, did what any normal teenage boy would love to do during his summer, as shown by this picture—he hung out with great-looking girls and went out partying and by no means is that wrong in my eyes.
The problem I have with my latest Facebook finding is not that EJ, as his friends call him, is around alcohol or girls, but that he let himself be photographed with the two temptations of teenage boys—only weeks before his name is called on draft day.
While what you've read thus far might seem contradictory, I would like to explain that Eric Gordon is only 19, while Young and Leinart are legal to drink in the United States (even though I am a strong advocate for a lower drinking age).
For Gordon to openly pose for a picture in which he totally disregarded the amount of alcohol placed in front of him is completely moronic.
Regardless if he consumed any of this clearly-labeled beer or not, Gordon shows a lack of maturity that many of his critics think may be a downfall for him in the NBA, much like fellow soon-to-be draftees O.J. Mayo of USC and Michael Beasley of Kansas State, as well as a pretty large lack of judgement.
Even beyond this photo, Gordon had many issues arise through his freshman season at Indiana University, where his immaturity showed both on and off the hardwood.
On the court, Gordon clearly never stepped up to be a leader, although he was one of the team’s best players, and spent most of his time towards the end of the season displaying his lack of basketball IQ by turning the ball over countless times.
At times Gordon would without a doubt display his lack of interest in the college game—and his lack of maturity—by designating three feet beyond the three-point line his sole area of offense, never cutting to the basket for easy lay-ups or stepping up for a much easier jump shot.
Away from Assembly Hall, Gordon also displayed his lack of good judgment. Many Hoosier students knew Gordon would skip classes during his second semester, much like some of his other teammates, and that he dropped an English class, forecasting his decision that he was too good for college basketball.
More and more of these stories continue to arise with these one-and-done students, and it is ridiculous to believe that a year in college is going to help them mature. If anything, a freshman year in college is a step back in maturity from my personal experience.
Beyond that, some young athletes must mature to a basic level where they know when it is okay and when it is not okay for someone to take their picture.That should only require a junior high education. So perhaps it would be in the best interest of the league to either null the current rule about having a year outside of high school or perhaps make a player have four years of college under their belts.
Gordon needs to wake up and realize sometime between now and the draft that while it is okay to hang out with your old friends from home, a key instance to avoid is when there is alcohol involved.
If he does not, it is likely he will become the very image the NBA is trying to minimize, instead of the face of an organization like he is supposed to become. Hopefully for his sake he will live up to his character and not fall lame to a life of poor judgement.