Boys Behaving Badly

What’s up with all of the boys behaving badly lately? Yes, I called them boys. Real men do not act like this.

In the last week we’ve seen NY Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez tear a ligament in his pitching hand after getting into an altercation with his girlfriend’s father. Indiana Pacers 2010 draft pick, Lance Stephenson, was arrested for assault after pushing is girlfriend down a flight of stairs. And finally Miami Heat forward, Udonis Haslem, was arrested for possession of marijuana following a traffic stop.

I’m not sure which one of these incidents is worse.

The passenger in Haslem’s vehicle has stated the marijuana was his. It was found in the passenger’s luggage and it’s possible that Haslem will be cleared. Even if he is cleared, what part of “I am a professional athlete and I have a lot to lose so don’t do anything stupid around me” does Haslem not understand. I’m sorry, I just don’t get it.

The Stephenson situation is very sad. He is 19 years old and clearly is young and immature. Domestic violence is serious and it is something that I personally don’t take lightly. Larry Bird, Pacers President, issued a statement saying the arrest is “very disappointing to the Pacers franchise and to me personally.” Yup it’s disappointing alright and I am sure there are a few other choice words that Larry Bird would like to say too. If it were me I would. Then again I’m a lady and I don’t talk like that.

K-Rod’s actions have probably ended his season. The Mets suspended him for two games, which amounted to a penalty around $125K. Later, he revealed his injury to the organization and it turns out that he has torn a ligament in his pitching hand. Seriously? Yes, Mets organization your closer has a possible season ending injury that occurred off the field. Oh yeah, he has been charged with third-degree assault, second-degree harassment and the entire incident occurred at Citi Field. The Mets organization has said that they are disappointed, discouraged, and frustrated by the situation. I have to hand it to them, they have been very calm when it comes to addressing the media.

There is talk that the Mets should attempt to void the remainder of K-Rod’s contract. He is set to make $11.5 million this season and the same in 2011.

If I was the owner of the Mets or Pacers I am refusing to pay you if you’re not playing. It’s just that simple. Now let me just clarify something. I have no problem paying an athlete if he’s injured in the course of competing or they have another medical issue that might not be competition related but wasn’t self inflicted either. What I do have a problem with are situations where the athlete clearly had an opportunity to choose, and unfortunately they chose wrongly.  

Also, I am ok with second chances. However, looking at all three of these situations it looks like second chances might have to be awarded on a case-by-case basis.

Here’s the point that I am trying to make, professional athletes please act like professionals. And while you’re at it, remind all of your friends that they must act professionally too. Oh one more thing. Just in case you’re wondering, yes athletes are role models. Charles Barkley please give me a call if you want to chat about this.

I can’t blame age or inexperience on what happened here. Haslam is 30 years old and K-Rod is 28 years old. Yes, Stephenson is young – he’s 19 years old. Nonetheless, there are plenty of 19 year olds out there that are not professional athletes and not beating their girlfriends either.

I wish there was a quick fix or solution to these situations. I know the NBA, NFL, and MLB provide extensive training as it relates to drug policies and codes of conduct. And prior to draft day, the athletes are subjected to background checks and extensive interviews. We’ve seen time and time again that there isn’t a set formula for finding the “model” professional athlete. We’ve seen guys that graduated from college act as childish as those that only finished high school. And we’ve seen athletes that had both parents in the home make decisions that most critics believe only those raised by a single parent would make. Again, it is impossible to predict how an athlete is going to behave once they sign their contract.

 At the end of the day, I think all an owner can do is set a policy and stick to enforcing it. Create a culture that includes on-going professional development training and a standard of excellence. The athletes that are committed to the team and winning will rise above those that just want to be – boys.

Good Night Sports Fans,

Alana

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