Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sex Crimes in Sports

So the off field buzz on ESPN the past few weeks seems to be all about the issues surrounding the Vikings football team and their escapades on a yacht they rented to blow off some steam. The poor guys were 0-5 at the time and I don't doubt that they needed some relaxation. But then various personel on board are throwing around accusations about sexual imposition and misconduct. I'm not sure that I heard the word "rape" just yet, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if before the end of all this, someone is being charged.

Was that the way it went down? Was it not? Did someone actually just say something that was particularly sensitive and really made someone mad? Maybe...maybe not...All in all, it doesn't matter. When it comes to matters of sexual impropriety, preception is often reality.

But my thought process here isn't to rasie some morality plea or to place blame or even to speculate weather or not it really happened. More so, I got to wondering about the sexual politics that surround the sporting world. In recent memory, it seems that nearly all the scandals, impositions, paternity suits, or even rape cases have pretained primarily to football and basketball. Make no mistake, I'm a huge fan of nearly every sport and I don't mean to suggest that baseball and hockey players are better people or have a greater sense of morality. But it seems rare to see the names of MLB and NHL members attached to these situations. So I began to wonder why?

I thought about all kinds of reasons. Why this and that and the other. There's money in all 4 sports. There's expectations, fans, different races, multigenerational gatherings, and a ton of other criteria that spanned the vast landscape of pro sports. What really got me thinking was the ageof the athletes. Yes, NBA stars have been getting younger and younger. But new eligibility seems to be following suit of NFL requirements of spending a minimum amount of time in college before you are eligible for the draft. The NFL requires applicants to be 2 years removed from high school, while the NBA will probably only require 1 year. I can't speak well to the drafting practices of the NHL, but MLB snaps kids up at 16,17,18 years old as high school prodigies. So while all leagues are recruiting younger and younger, MLB is in fact taking players at the earilest age the most consistently. Doesn't it stand to reason that the younger athlete is less mature and more likely to be thrust into questionable situations?

If there was one reason that could be singled out to allow for an answer to a wide array of questions, I really have no idea what it is. But what may be making a difference is the presence of a farm team system. Superstar basketball and football players leave college at 20 years old and suddenly have everything in the world. Cars, clothes, money, women, and so on. And what they are lacking is a fundamental understanding of action/reaction, participation and repercussion. Coaches, boosters, alumni, or even parents could have a hand in the public defense of their pupil when a matter arose in college. Now that the limelight is sqaurely focused on them, and having no experience to the contrary, why are they to believe anything has changed? Except now they are millionaires and everyone wants a little bit of what they have. No experience, minor previous accountability, and the world on a platter. Sounds like a classic case of being careful what you wish for.

Baseball and hockey offer something that NBA and NFL do not. They have farm teams. Small, grassroots organizations throughout the country dedicated to the idea of making their players better. Players progress through the ranks that may have them playing under the terms of a paying contract immediately. It is far less likely that an 18 year old pitcher graduates from high school and walks on to the roster of an MLB than it has been for players to crack the NBA in years past. By starting players off with professional expectations and professional decorum but limited salaries and greater supervision, these programs aid to make their athletes not only better players, but better professionals.


Blogger Emily Santiago said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Katrina said...

Very insightful. So, do you think that there is a difference in the upbringing on a personal level as well as an organizational level?

11:06 AM  

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