Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Feelin' like a criminal

You may or may not know the man in the picture to the left. Die hard sports fans probably recognize him as Roger Cossack. He is the legal analyst for ESPN and appears on Sportscenter to explain legal proceedings and predict what will happen to athletes who have gotten in trouble with the law. What does this say about sports in America that ESPN has a legal analyst that probably appears on tv once a week to talk about the latest athlete who screwed up? Pro athletes are fast becoming a band of criminals. The main reason for this I believe is money; whether it be the desire for, or the overabundance of. These athletes who are no older than you or I have way too much money thrown in front of them. Because of this, I feel that this problem of criminality in pro sports will get worse before it gets better. Roger Cossack, get your legal pad ready.

There are too many cases of pro athletes breaking the law these days to go through all of them, in fact I could probably name two that have occurred in the last week if I wanted to, so I will only highlight a few to make my point. My point is that athletes act criminally for two reasons; to make more money, or because they have too much money. I don't necessarily blame the athletes, even though many of them probably acted out of stupidity, it is the business of giving these young kids so much money at such a young age. Athletes such as Plaxico Burress, the Pacman Jones and Josh Hamilton are prime examples of this problem. These guys were given great sums of money all at a very young age. I'm not an expert on their backgrounds, but I would imagine that their contracts were for more money than they had ever seen in their entire lives. These kids had more money than they knew what to do with, and soon got in trouble because of it; Burress with guns, Pacman by "making it rain" and assualting club patrons, and Hamilton with his hardcore drug and tattoo addiction. These kids think that money will make their problems disappear, but in fact their wealth causes them much more trouble.

On the other side of the coin (pun intended) you have athletes who see all that money within their grasp, and will do anything to get there. These criminals are usually those who you will read about in works such as the Mitchell Report; juicers. While it can be argued that big time stars that are already rich use steroids, I think the Mitchell Report proved that their are many more athletes just trying to make it to the big money that are using steroids. These people such as Phil Hiatt, Tim Laker, Adam Riggs, Ricky Bones, Mike Judd, etc. (ever heard of any of them? all in the Mitchell Report) want to earn a fat contract so bad, that they will do anything, including break the law and risk their health to get there. The revenue generated in pro sports has lead to much trouble with its athletes.

Unfortunately, I do not see an end to this pattern of lawlessness. Roger Goodell was brought in to clean up the NFL, and just recently we have the Burress case, another Pacman fray, and drunky Brandon Marshall making waves. Pro sports are so popular that I don't see salaries ever going down, therefore there will never be a shortage of money being offered to these young men. With that, there will always be a large number of irresponsible athletes who pursue or use that money in the wrong way. I think we better be prepared to see our good friend Roger Cossack on tv a lot more in the future.

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