Athletes Going Broke and Going to Jail
Today I stumbled across the headline, “Ex Raider Facing Multiple Murder Charges”. Headlines like these involving former athletes have become so commonplace that I barely noticed, which for me is sad.
Anthony Wayne Smith, a former Los Angeles Raider who played six seasons in the NFL, is potentially facing the death penalty after being accused of three murders. Reading this made me think the same thing I feel every time I read about another athlete going to jail, going bankrupt or involved in some criminal activity – I don’t understand how these athletes who earn millions of dollars get mixed up in all this. Why can’t they play the sport they love, collect their massive cheques and then retire young and happy with all of the freedoms and luxuries in the world? It seems so easy, though of course I’m not naive enough to think it will always happen so perfectly.
Some of the players that have faced multiple years in prison are: Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, Mercury Morris, O.J Simpson, Mike Tyson, Lenny Dykstra. Another intriguing list includes athletes who have gone bankrupt: Charles Barkley, Evander Holyfield, John Daly, Mark Brunell, Latrell Sprewell, Lawrence Taylor, and again, Mike Tyson.
These are just a few names amongst the many that have had particularly public trials and tribulations. I think you can see my point, that the amount of money on makes does not re-define them. That is to say, just because someone becomes wealthy does not mean they can necessarily break bad habits, or stay away from negative influences.
Many of these crimes and bankruptcies were caused by drugs, gambling, and credit “issues”. So I thought to myself “Can this be stopped?”
Many players enter their respective sports with chequered pasts. If we can agree that making a ridiculous amount of money would not change them, then how can these players be helped? Should the player’s team provide some services? Should the leagues impose stricter penalties for poor behaviour, or would they not be taken seriously?
I’m not sure what is currently being done for athletes to help them transition in their lives after sports, but whatever it is, I’m sure it’s not enough.
…and that is the Last Word.