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"How Talented You Are Determines How Long Your Leash Is" - The Gulf Between Reality and Professional Sports

Updated on March 26, 2015

Situation #1 - Drug Use

Scene One

"George, come on in and take a seat; I need to speak with you about something."

George takes a seat, looking worried. His boss begins to speak.

"George, I know you were injured driving the forklift last week and it was a true accident. Who knew the lift would give way and slam down, pinching your fingers and sending you to the hospital. You know we have a procedure in place that whenever a workplace accident occurs we have drug tests done to see if something external might have contributed to the accident. It's not personal, it's normal business practice that the Insurance Company forces us to do in order to keep our rates down. Well, Bill I hate to say this but your tests came back positive for marijuana; not much, just a trace. Who knows when you were in the presence of it but your tests prove you were. So, I have to terminate you today, here and now. Due to the reason behind your dismissal, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits either. I'm truly sorry because you are the fastest, best and up until now the safest worker in the plant. It kills me to do this because you've been here twenty years. Sorry, and best of luck to you."

Scene Two

"Mary, could you step in here for a moment? Close the door please. Martha, take a seat here, Mary here. Ok, well this is hard for me to say, but Mary you know we had the random drug tests last week and I won't beat around the bush here: you failed. Marijuana showed up in your tox screens and I have to let you go today; now. And I hate to add this on top but the State mandates that any driver with a CDL who fails a drug screening has to be reported to the State; it's just the way it is. it will remain on your permanent record and will in all likelihood cost you future jobs in the driving arena. I am truly sorry because for the past fifteen years you have been an exemplary School Bus Driver, carrying our children to and from school safely with no accidents, ever. You haven't missed a day, never late and the kids and schools love you. I won't say why you are being terminated so that might save you a bit of embarrassment. I'll leave it up to you to explain it as you see fit. From my standpoint I'll just say you decided to retire, okay? Good luck. And again, I'm sorry."

Scene Three

"John, come on in and sit for a spell; gotta talk to you about something. Well, I heard the test results from the league mandated random's are back and you failed again. Now John we've had this talk what: once, twice before? You know you can't smoke pot and pass one of these random tests. What am I gonna do with you? You'll probably get fined again, maybe $20,000 and nothing more will be said. Next time it'll be $100,000 so knock it off, will ya? You're giving the sport a bad name. Okay get out there and practice. This games important and we need a couple of more home runs from you today. Good talk, know you got a lot from it."

Each of these scenes it a true reflection of how drugs are viewed in America today. If a person fails a random test in the workforce, they are fired immediately. If they have a CDL (Commercial Drivers License) they are reported to their State Agency and the results held against them for a period of time, thereby costing them jobs in their chosen profession. If they are found to have used drugs during a test resulting from an accident, again: immediately terminated. But if you can throw a ball, catch a ball, hit a ball, run fast, jump high you are if not exempt, at least given second, third fourth and beyond chances and fined a pittance in relation to what your income is.


On a Sports Talk Radio show this morning, I heard yet again the phrase regarding how talented a person is determines how long the leash they are given is. Basically, if they are extremely talented in a given sport the peripherals they may be lacking in, such as basic human decency and the ability to follow the laws of the nation, are largely forgiven. They have a value to their owners and coaches that precludes them from being held to the same values as the rest of civilization.

That's not right.

Fair isn't everyone getting what they want, fair is everyone getting what they need to be successful

I know, I know saying something isn't right, isn't fair is going to leave some saying "so what?". But really, why do we pay tremendous sums of money that we have worked hard to earn by the sweat of our brow and the blood often left behind on the job to attend, watch, follow, buy souvenirs of our favorite teams when this type of person flaunts their abilities in our face, saying that the same laws and rules don't apply to me? What kind of society are we creating by not only tolerating, but encouraging this type of behavior?

Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson | Source
Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson | Source
Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton | Source

Situation #2 - Crime Against Another Person

Scene One

"George, come in and take a seat, will you? Shut the door. Okay George, I'm not going to beat around the bush here. I have had a report of you telling indecent jokes around the workplace. I know you are "old school" and these jokes are just jokes to you but you can't do that here. We've spoken about this once before and I gave you a written warning, suspended you for a week without pay and warned you that if you did it one more time you would be terminated. Consider yourself terminated. Collect your things and you will be escorted from the premises."

Scene Two

"Mary, please come in and take a seat. Martha, shut the door and take notes, please. Ok Mary, it has come to my attention that you made an advance towards a married employee here the other day. It was seen and heard by several other witnesses and even after he asked you to stop you continued, making him uneasy enough that he left work that day. He filed a formal complaint against you and after due diligence I found enough evidence to terminate you here and now. Martha will watch you collect your things and escort you from the premises. Goodbye."

Scene Three

"John come on in and take a seat. Listen buddy, you are in deep trouble here. That lady reporter that was in here after the game said you showed yourself to her when she asked you questions about your 0 for 4 day including your four whiffs. Said she called it the Golden Sombrero and you made a rude comment to her about something. We've had this talk before, remember? After that little incident involving you and that underage girl in Toronto? You can't act of talk that way with people! We'll try to talk her out of suing the club and you but there's no guarantee here. Ya gotta stop talking and acting like this! You're gonna bring more trouble down on you like you did in your previous club when you hit that woman in your room. Society may not always forgive you man! Now get outta here and hit the cages."

Situation #3 Domestic Abuse

Scene One

George is arrested at work and jack-stepped out in front of his peers. Why? He beat his wife last night because she berated him in front of their child for not earning enough money to properly take care of the household. He lost his cool, slapped her then when she fought back he hit her hard enough to put her out cold. He left in a rage and headed to work the night shift at the local big box store. Chances are he will be found guilty and sentenced to several years behind bars.

Scene Two

Mary is called to school to explain the marks on her daughter's legs and back. She is met there by the local Police and arrested for Child Abuse. Her daughter is taken into protective custody as she is a single parent with no husband or other family to take care of her child. The child is placed into Foster Care while Mary spends the next five to ten years in prison. While in Foster Care, the child is basically forgotten, is abused by the man of the house, gets into drugs and eventually runs away. When Mary gets out, there is no record of her daughter anywhere and they are never reconciled.

Scene Three

John is caught on camera in a hotel hallway brutally attacking a woman he has been dating. He strikes her repeatedly, bruising her face, knocking out some teeth, and causing a concussion. An arrest warrant is authored and after a public apology where he stands shoulder to shoulder with his girlfriend, asking for and being granted her forgiveness, he submits to his arrest. He is eventually found guilty of a misdemeanor, pays a small fine, is subjected to a few games suspension and welcomed back to his team as if nothing had occurred. His past demeanor on the field was not brought into pay where he had stomped opponents, willfully causing harm on other athletes including breaking arms and legs while playing a sport. All is forgiven and forgotten.


Again, each of these scenarios happens, if not daily then at least weekly in America today. Those who are in the "normal" workforce, the "real" world are subject to the laws and rules of order that govern Society. But athletes? Go ahead, hit a woman, there will be somewhere you can work. Go ahead, expose yourself to another person, it'll be swept under the rug and the person paid off to forget about it. Make rude and indecent comments? Forgiven.

Again, why? Why can a person who competes in a sport be given second, third, forth, fifth chances to conform to society yet the common worker only a single opportunity? Is it solely because they can hit a ball? Run fast? Tackle another person? Are we making them gods, idols, role models because of that simple little thing? Are we breeding a subculture of persons who are above the law so far that they are not able to recognize it?

In the NFL Draft scenarios which are currently in the news, there is a person who has had crimes against a woman charged against him; he has shown repeated examples of poor judgment flaunting the laws of the nation and society yet due to his perceived "brilliance" on the field of play he is being given the chance to have these character flaws overlooked which to the vast portion of society would be a death knell in the workforce. They are being overlooked, forgiven simply because he has a football IQ so high that he is being described as "blowing away" the NFL scouts and coaches.

And yet it is my prediction that once he is picked high in the draft, given a contract worth millions of dollars per year and sent to the big league, he will display those same flaws and something will occur once more; perhaps more than once. Then we will see how many times he will be given chances, how long a leash he will have. Will the team be hoist by their own petard?

We will see.

How long will we allow this to continue? Will we, as Society, continue to forgive these people due to their excellence on the field of play? Will we continue to forgive rapists, murderers, wife beaters, drug abusers and such just because they can run faster than us? Hit a ball farther than us? Throw a football? Really? What does that say about us? Does it say that we are so insecure, so ashamed of ourselves that we have to live through these people? That we have to exalt them, to place them on a pedestal? Wouldn't it be better if we held them to the same laws that we ourselves hold one another to? If they break the law, they are subject to the penalties just as we are. If it costs you your chosen profession, so be it. There's always a place for you at a fast food place, flipping burgers or sweeping the floor.

Just don't bring your attitude to work with you. We won't tolerate it.


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    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      4 years ago from Missouri

      Because they are not accountable like we are. Simple as that, and as unjust as can be!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      The law is the law. No one should be exempt, whether an athlete or a politician, yet it seems both groups are. Why??????

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      4 years ago from Missouri

      Bill, the problem is that teams will always take wins over character. If they get a win, they get more money; if they get more money, nothing else matters. And until we, as viewers, decide enough is enough they will not be swayed. Take care, my friend. Bless you and Bev and stay safe.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      In our society, excuses are made for exceptional athletes from high school on. Is it any wonder that professional teams choose to ignore actions that deserve time in prison? I'm with you all the way on this, my friend. I'm tired of reading about an athlete abusing his wife and getting a slap on the wrist....but until the teams institute a zero tolerance attitude, it will continue.


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