Sunday, September 21, 2014

NFL Bad Boy in the Making

The New York Times' Marc Tracy reported on the actions of the youngest Heisman Trophy winner, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, which triggered a recent one-game suspension. Allegedly Winston stood atop a table in the student union and shouted an obscene, vulgar phrase several times. It is a phrase that is especially offensive to women. Originally the school was going to sit Winston for only half the game because, well, it was an IMPORTANT game. Later somebody with a bit of a conscience decided the suspension be changed to a full game.

As Tracy writes,"Myron Rolle, a former Florida State safety who is now a member of the Knight Commission, which works to ensure that athletics programs operate within the educational mission of their universities, said he understood that Winston was held to a higher standard than the average student but added that there should be wider awareness that life can in some ways be more difficult for prominent student-athletes.

“This pressure and movement toward proper conduct and properly comporting himself has been thrust on him immediately, quickly, vigorously and with some serious voracity,” Rolle said of Winston, a friend."

Well, of course it would be more difficult for good, even great, student athletes (using the term student loosely in many cases) to lead perfect lives, as they are constantly under scrutiny. But those factors are part and parcel of the deal they make with the school. The athlete promises to play his best and to follow the rules, ALL the rules, of the school, the team, the NCAA and society in general. In return the athlete gets an (often free) education, the opportunity to play for a successful program and a path to a potentially VERY lucrative position in pro sports. Asking the athlete to be a good person shouldn't even be required, it should just be expected. Perhaps that's a big part of the problem. As we're seeing in the NFL, not for the first time but more at the forefront than before, athletes are not always good citizens. Some aren't even good people. Apparently they were not expected to be well behaved when they were younger, as Rolle points out that, at least in Winston's case, the expectation of "proper conduct and properly comporting himself has been thrust on him immediately..." When I was in elementary school we actually got grades in both conduct and comportment. Poor, fair, satisfactory or good, your parents were made aware of how you behaved at school. Very few scored a grade of poor or fair. And even then it likely only happened during one grading period because parents would take corrective action. Parents would take RESPONSIBILITY and teach their children to do so as well. Inferring that a twenty-year old college sophomore is not capable of proper behavior is an insult to young adults everywhere. Set aside the argument that there are 18-. 19-, and 20-year old young men and women with the maturity to go to war, or even to manage shifts at the local Starbucks. Consider the fact that, as a quarterback, Winston is expected to be a team leader. He's consistently shown he is not cut out for that role. He has a history of charges including vandalism, theft, and sexual assault. This is not a good kid. He's not a choirboy. And he's not learning any lessons from these experiences. After being lambasted on social media he issued an apology. Not to those he offended in person. Not to women he offended everywhere. To his teammates. Because he had the arrogance to think winning a football game was more important than his bad behavior. He then, after his suspension was extended from the first half to the entire game, had the audacity to dress for the game and participate in pre-game warm-ups. Like he couldn't believe the school would actually keep him out of the game. Especially if they were losing. He would be at the ready to jump in and save the game, suspension be damned. Because nobody puts Jameis in the corner.