A Message to Professional Athletes

     It seems that far too often athletes commit illegal and criminal acts, become addicted to drugs, or take place in other acts not deemed socially acceptable.  This is something I’ve been wanting to write about since the blog began.  However, it’s always been on the back burner, stuffed behind more recent and relevant matters.  But now, given the recent Ray Rice scandal, and the emerging Adrian Peterson situation, there really isn’t a better time to talk about the conduct of athletes then now.
     I want to send a message to the professional athletes of the world, those lucky enough to play sports for a living.  I can sum up my message by simply saying “athletes: don’t be stupid”, but I think it would be more appropriate to really go into what I mean by that.  Also, I think it would be unwise to lump all athletes together into a big group, because my message is not directed to most athletes, because it is my opinion that the mass majority of athletes are decent people.  However, repeatedly in the past we have seen athletes who aren’t decent people, and those are the people I am addressing.  This goes out to the current and former athletes who are convicted of criminal or illegal acts, or may commit such acts in the future.
     Congratulations on being a professional athlete and doing what you love in life.  It’s something that while many people aspire to, very few actually end up accomplishing.  You make a lot of money, especially if you are one of the better players in your sport.  So ask yourself this question: why would you ever risk throwing it away?  One example is Aaron Hernandez.  Hernandez was a great tight end in the league, one of the best players in his position, famous, and set to make millions of dollars if he simply doesn’t do anything stupid.  Instead, Aaron Hernandez is currently convicted and charged in three murder cases.  Hernandez is only 24 years old, and already has thrown his career away.
     Alright, that’s one case, and not much to go on.  But 43 NFL players entered this season with suspensions.  Among these are Ray Rice, who struck his wife in the video we’ve all seen, and Josh Gordon for DWI and violating the substance abuse policy.
     Athletes, you need to realize that eyes are always on you.  Kids idolize you, and make you their role models.  Every move you make is monitored, and while it may not be entirely fair, it’s the world we live in, and it has to be accepted.  You need to be conscious of your actions, because any slip in behavior will be publicized.
     Also, it is not okay for you to believe that you are better than everybody else.  The laws apply to everybody, and everyone has to obey them.  Just because you’re famous and have tons of money doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want.
     People dream of being athletes.  Millions and millions of kids growing up have aspirations of becoming professional athletes, accomplishing their dreams and it’s really a shame that some people that actually fulfill these dreams end up throwing them all away by doing things that go against common sense.  Don’t do drugs, don’t injure people, follow the laws just like everyone else.  It is never okay to hit other people, whether that be your wife, child, mother, or anyone else.  It’s definitely not okay to kill people, fight dogs, or do drugs.  It shouldn’t be so difficult that the same people are continuously caught and suspended.  If you don’t feel like following the rules and being an a moral citizen, trust me when I say there are thousands of people who would love to take your place.
     Remember how lucky you are.  This is so important.  Way the pros against the cons when it comes to substance abuse, and personal conduct.  Is whatever action you may perform really worth jeopardizing your professional career and public image?  Is it really worth being removed from the game you love, losing millions of dollars, potentially going to jail, and losing the respect of friends, family, and the world?  99.99% of the time, if not all the time, the answer should be no.
     It all boils down to this: athletes need to think before they act, or accept the consequences.  They need to realize that they are privileged, and not risk throwing all they have worked for away.
     Connor
   

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