Man, this is going to be a tough one for many to swallow.
A professional athlete, one of the privileged few, who this past summer signed a multimillion-dollar deal to play for the Chicago Bears, got arrested for attempting to purchase (for distribution) large amounts of cocaine and marijuana (5-10 kilos of coke/1,000 lbs of marijuana, based on many sources).
And, according to this USA Today piece, he wanted to purchase this amount on a weekly basis to sell in the Chicago area.
Wow, playing professional football as your side job to supplement your main source of income from your “real” job―drug dealer. Simply mind-boggling. Talk about a life-altering event, the arrest that is.
And I thought the poor examples some of our elite and pro-level athletes are setting through their choice to use PEDs was big news. If the charges against Hurd hold true, this case will rank pretty high on my list of "bad” athlete behavior.
Of course, not to the deplorable, disgusting level of what Mr. Sandusky is alleged to have done (not much could ever top that) but still, pretty high up on that scale of unethical, illicit acts demonstrated by individuals who should be holding themselves to higher standards. That’s for sure!
It stands to reason that the Bears organization would drop Hurd from the team based on his arrest, and, it would seem, the strength of the allegations brought against him. What other choice did they really have?
And as Hurd’s story continues to unfold, it seems that the worst, as far as how far-reaching this could go (for the Bears and the NFL), is yet to come.
According to a CBS News report, there is a source in law enforcement who is indicating that Hurd’s clientele, the ones Sam referred to as his “higher-end deals,” likely includes other NFL players.
In fact, the report actually indicated that they (law enforcement) have a list of pros that is “in the double-digits.”
Anybody questioning the procedures, accuracy, and effectiveness of the NFL drug-testing regimen, please raise your hand!
So what is to be learned from all this? Well, I would not go the way of some who state that this is proof that sports do not offer character-building opportunities.
That the variety and types of scandalous, unsportsmanlike, inappropriate, and illicit behavior demonstrated throughout many levels of our current sports culture (the ones we are consistently seeing and reading about) show that athletic participation is merely an environmental breeding ground for some of the worst society has to offer.
On the contrary, from my perspective, I see today’s sports environment simply mirroring the same social ills you find all over.
Greedy, entitlement, “winning at all cost,” and lack of taking personal responsibility type attitudes, along with illegal behavior, are found in many walks of life. Business, insurance, the medical field, government—you name it.
So it is not necessarily the sports environment in and of itself that is the problem, but the people in it and the choices they are making that perpetuate the issues we are seeing.
You change the mindset, belief system, and attitudes of those involved (especially in our youth), to one that holds solid ethical standards in high regard, and everything changes.
The key will be in what we (parents, coaches, teachers and society as a whole) encourage and accept, and where we place the most value.