Mark Radcliffe asks if athletes don’t share our everyday frustrations, why can’t they behave themselves out on the town?
This week saw two more entrees into the long legacy of major sports stars chalking up a big DUI and a handful of other charges and felonies to boot: Bobby Jenks of the Red Sox, and former #1 draft pick Matt Bush who was slated to play for the Rays.
Today, Matt Bush is in jail… A Florida judge Monday set his bail at more than $1 million after Bush allegedly stole his spring roommate’s SUV Thursday night, got drunk, climbed on stage at a strip club before bouncers booted him, headed back on the road and hit a 72-year-old motorcyclist named Tony Tufano. Bush reportedly ran over Tufano’s head while peeling away. He drove from the carnage with a .18 blood alcohol level and a septuagenarian lying in the street in critical condition.
I know I shouldn’t be as surprised at these incidents by now, but somehow I still am. The week before, it was a football star. Next week, it’ll be an NBA big-shot. One week it’s rape, another it’s wielding a gun in a night club. I figure they’ve seen the cautionary tales over the years, too—so why are they unable to keep from repeating them?
These are the guys who have it all—success, the ability to do something they love, money, fame, presumably plenty of female attention (if they’re into that sorta thing).
And yes, I realize they have one other thing the rest of us don’t always have: pressure.
But I figure they’re more than compensated for that. Sure, they have to perform at 110% in front of millions of viewers for hours a day. But it’s easier to do that when you get to spend the rest of the day without most of the “normal” hassles of life—you get driven around in one of your Bentleys by a personal driver, staying in your luxury penthouse, with three maids, two butlers, and a few personal assistants doing your laundry, your dishes, your taxes, your shopping for your wife (and/or mistresses) so that you don’t ever have to break a sweat.
You’re not bound by the rules the rest of us have to play by.
You get a free pass for 90% of your day.
So why is it so hard to just play by a few simple rules at night? Like “Don’t get so hammered that you steal a car, get thrown out of a strip club, lose control of said car, run over an innocent grandfather, and flee the scene after putting him in the ICU”?
Especially when you have enough cash for a personal limo driver.
Well, hell, maybe it’s because they don’t have to play by the rules most of the time that they figure “why should I have to play by them the rest of the time, either?”
My friends who are loyal baseball/football/NBA fans often tell me, “Eh, you don’t realize how unprepared these guys are for the sudden success, money, fame. You might not do so well with it yourself.”
But I still can’t seem to find much leniency in my heart for them. And I wish the rest of the world wouldn’t be so eager to forgive them either. If we’re willing to treat them like gods just for the way they throw a ball, they’ll behave like gods: with no regard for mere mortals.
Some will point out that with alcoholism (which it appears Bush has), it’s a disease, and free-will that disease controls your actions perhaps more than you control them. But if you have your own demons, you also have a responsibility to deal with them. Especially when your inability to control them means a grandfather on the way home from playing with his granddaughter might not live to see tomorrow.
How do you view the crimes and misdemeanors of our vaunted athletic heroes?
Photo credit: Flickr / indi.ca