Did Fans, Media Rush to Judgment on Accused Georgia Bulldog Players?
Many sports media outlets, including the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Sporting News reported an incident on April 1st, involving four UGA football players.
According to the reports, four "un-named" players were reported to have harrassed a young couple in a taxi early the previous morning. One of the players reportedly even slapped the woman in the back of the head.
Although the victim reported that the four men were Georgia football players, he could not name any of them.
The verdict came early from many news and sports outlets.
Kick them off the team! Suspend those terrorist!!
Of course we now know that only one player was involved, and he was actually a peacemaker within the situation.
Ok, sorry guys. We take that back. Go get 'em Dawgs!
Mark Richt said it best this week, when he was asked about the supposed incident that involved “unnamed” Georgia football players.
Tim Tucker reported Richt’s reaction in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Monday. Richt stated, “I’m just glad that it all came out and that none of our guys were a problem. . . . The thing that is hard to take is just all the time and all the speculation and everybody just assuming it was our guys and assuming they would do these things.
“That’s just the thing about the Internet and police reports and all that kind of thing. It’s hard for anybody to really know what the reality is, but your mind starts racing and you start assuming things that may or may not be true.”
The Sporting News reported the incident as if there was no doubt that those involved were Georgia football players. They did question if the report might be an April fool’s joke, since the report broke on the first.
They have since reported the police findings, and given us the whole story.
While I am certainly thankful that this incident did not turn out to be as bad as it first sounded, it does bring this question to mind.
Why did so many rush to judgment?
Georgia has certainly had its fair share of off field incidents under Richt. But I think if we looked hard enough we would see many schools experiencing the same problems.
Most of what you see with the Georgia team is alcohol related. Since we are talking about 18 to 21 year old college kids, should that surprise us?
I would say no, it shouldn’t surprise us. But it is very disappointing.
Year after year we see a player here, or two or three players there, who throw responsibility and caution to the wind and forget how they are being given such an awesome opportunity.
Zach Mettenberger is a perfect example. How can a kid that is fighting for the starting quarterback job at an SEC school go out on spring break and even come close to blowing his opportunity for a night of partying?
I think the answer lies within the question. He is still a kid, and sometimes kids do stupid things.
As an adult we can sit and reason, and wonder how on earth he could make such a mistake. But the truth is we have all done things as a young adult that we regret.
Most of us were not battling for a starting position on an SEC football team, so our mistakes most likely didn’t get publicized and broadcast to the southeast and beyond.
Mark Richt in my opinion has handled these off field issues as best he can. He sets the example to these young men every day. Hopefully most of them will realize that a few hours of “fun” are not worth losing a scholarship.
Should we expect Coach Richt to sit at the front door of the dormitory each day and check to see who comes and goes? Probably not.
As for the Sporting News and the rest of the sports media across this country, I would simply like to remind them that they are not the National Enquirer.
Leave the speculation and rumors to the tabloids... please!
Report the incident if you feel it is relevant, but don’t set yourself up as judge, juror and executioner.
These student athletes deserve better than that.
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