Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Debate - Rising Player Arrests

Given the frequent arrests of high profile professional athletes, what rules/regulations would you put in place to slow the growing epidemic?

Kevin Rossi
Whenever I think about the answer to this question, I wonder if there really is any reasonable means to lower the frequency of athlete arrests.  This may sound odd, but when I think of this issue, I immediately think of Malcolm Gladwell’s 2005 novel Blink (sorry this may sound crazy).  In Blink, Gladwell talks about decisions that we make in the blink of an eye.  Basically it is about the things that we can do with our subconscious.  In the chapter titled The Locked Door, Gladwell discusses the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.  In this area, to sum it up for my point, we make quick decisions and process fear and consequences.  People that are lacking in terms of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex can have trouble linking their actions to the consequences.  They know that it’s wrong and they know the consequences, but their actions/words don’t match their conscious knowledge.  My point is, I wonder if there is any link between arrests and the sports that people play.  It seems that a lot of the arrested athletes are NFL players.  We know there are dangers to playing football but players ignore them anyway.  Could that be the same with their decision to get behind the wheel?  It would take a lot of further research but I think that would be an extremely interesting research study.  You’re welcome to whoever I just gave a thesis topic.  Anyhow, back to answering the question.  I’m really not sure about the reasonable needs to accomplish lowering arrest rates.  Anybody could go and say to make a one year ban for a guy that is arrested for DUI, but that isn’t reasonable.  Could there be suspensions on an ascending scale; each time a player is arrested the more games suspended?  I think that’s a bit more plausible.  Regardless, it is past the point of team executives sitting back and holding their breath over the offseason.  Teams must keep tabs on their players year round.  It could be expensive, but so could the team’s PR hit.  Clearly players do not respond to the fact that they are role models to kids.  The media tries to pull that one every single time a player is arrested, and players obviously do not take the hint.  It may really come down to how much teams are willing to spend to keep track of their players.  It also may come down to continuing to collectively hold our breath and pray for the best.  I know this would never happen, but wouldn’t it be awesome if team publicists made the arrested player speak for himself?  Nothing prepared, no team statement, no nothing.  Make every player go all Josh Hamilton on us but fail miserably.  Maybe public embarrassment can teach the lesson?  

Seth Breeden
Reading through the debate question this week, the first thought that comes to my mind isn’t about what rules or new policies that leagues should institute. Instead, my initial thought is befuddlement. I just can’t understand why so many athletes seem to have such a difficult time making the right decision (I addressed my thoughts on athletes drinking and driving in Real Talk a week or two ago).

Like my colleague Kevin (him, up there, in the paragraph before me), I too wonder if there is any reasonable means to lower the frequency of athlete arrests. In my opinion, I don’t believe that any rule, policy, or consequence from the given players league is going to make much of a difference. People will do as they please; and if they wish to drink and drive or get into a bar fight, or go all Dez Bryant and allegedly hit their mother in the face...well, unfortunately, I don’t think there is anything that a sports franchise or league could do that would infiltrate that given athlete's decision-making process in the heat of the moment and prevent him or her from committing that inappropriate action. It really all comes down to an individual holding themselves responsible for their own actions (riveting, I know...groundbreaking concept). However, with that being said, leagues still shouldn’t just sit back and wait for the arrests to slow down. Leagues should institute stiff penalties for such infractions, fines, and suspensions. And frankly, I don’t care much for the first-time-offender-doesn’t-get-punished business...first time or not, it sheds a terrible light on sports and damages the reputation of sports as a whole.

Drew Rosen
The frequent arrest of professional athletes is very disturbing. I am not someone who expects athletes to act differently than the rest of us, but I think it is reasonable to hold them to a higher standard. Whether they like it or not, they are role models to young kids. If they don’t want to be role models then they should look for a job out of the public spotlight. All that being said, I do not think any rules or regulations need to be put on the athletes. I would like to see athletes arrest go down but I do not think it will come from different rules. Players are humans and they understand the decisions they make. The recent Jason Kidd story just baffles me. This grown man has a wife and kid and all the money he needs. I do not understand how you get drunk and get behind the wheel to drive home. There is no rule or regulation that would deter this behavior by Kidd. The fact that he made a horrible decision is bothersome but unfortunately it is human nature and he was going to do it anyway. The leagues have done a great job offering resources for the players if they need help. I wish I could say imposing rules would help at all, but I just don’t see it. It is up to every individual athlete to make decisions that will reflect who they are.

Bryan Fyalkowski

Honestly, I do not see much else the commissioners of the various sports leagues could do to prevent things like this from happening. For the majority of professional teams, there are rookie seminars, late-night ride services that players can take to prevent DUIs, mentor programs and other things already in place. The main problem is that the players see themselves as above the rest of society and above the law; but can you blame them? The fans looks up to them like they are Gods, the franchises that they play for treat them like kings and the media are up in their grills 24/7 wondering what they will do next. It seems like professional athletes who get arrested just want the publicity and want to be news, good or bad. One solution that might work is to amend the repercussions already in place for players who are arrested for various reasons. As it stands now, teams and leagues do not come down harshly enough on players who are arrested. An arrest should equal immediate suspension AND a fine, hands down. After that, it is up to the judicial system to determine jail time, community service, additional fines, etc. Right now, players are not thinking in the moment because they are not afraid of the punishment, and that is a HUGE problem. These athletes will continue to feel “untouchable” and “invincible” until they get a reality check that they rightfully deserve. DUI is the worst. Not only are you putting your own life in danger, but also those around you on the road. Not that DUI is an acceptable thing to do for anybody to do, but for millionaire athletes to not shell out the money for a cab or limousine is mind-boggling. It is not embarrassing to get a ride home, although they think it is. The issue is that getting caught DUI as an athlete is not as embarrassing as it SHOULD be. These people are held to the highest standards on the field and it is just about time for them to be held to equitable standards as the rest of society while off of it.


  1. I think the owners need to step up. If I was the owner of the Titians, Kenny Britt would have been released from the team a long time ago. One strike rule with me. Everyone deserves a second chance. Everyone can do something stupid because we are human. But to do it again and again. If I was paying players millions of dollars I would pretty much have zero tolerance as there are plenty of others players waiting for a chance. When players lose there jobs they will change. Ask Chris Carter. I believe the owners need to take action.

  2. Look at this tremendous foresight by the I-95 staff; it's almost like they knew that this would be the worst week for athlete arrests that they could remember. Wow, what great writers! Also, I love that Kevin guy's point :)

  3. Hey it's the worst week as the NFL players are getting their drink on before camp!