Athletes and punishment

Daniel Ojeda, Sports Editor


In a perfect world, professional athletes would only be subject to legal discipline for any player misconduct.

For years now, professional sports leagues and teams have had to deal with disciplining players, which has sometimes felt like the decisions have been made at random.

But for the commissioners who are running these leagues, it’s nearly impossible to find a one-size-fits all discipline that would satisfy everyone without sacrificing fairness.

I agree with every reasonable person that domestic violence and child abuse is wrong.

Within the past year and especially these last couple of months, it seems there has been plenty of discussion about both of these issues and, as usual, with sports fans clamoring for these athletes to face suspensions or even a lifetime ban.

A majority of the time, a fan’s reaction is based on an emotional and personal level.

So this brings the question of what an appropriate punishment for allegations made against an athlete actually is.

This is where the lines begin to obscure because when sports leagues discipline their players sometimes it’s done in a manner so that their respective leagues aren’t perceived as soft or somehow being pro-abuse.

Players such as Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Dwyer and Ray Rice should face fines and suspensions for their acts of violence and abuse, but through the legal system, and when is the punishment enough?

They should also have the opportunity to have a fair trial and be given a chance to give their side but in some cases, such as with Peterson, private information can be illegally released.

Illegally released photos of injuries to Peterson’s son could compromise his ability to a fair trial, but worst of all it was also a violation of his child’s privacy.

I’m not saying that we should feel sympathy for Peterson or the other accused players but they should all be entitled to the same type of privacy we would want to receive.

When it comes to domestic violence, sports leagues such as the NFL are finally taking steps to shape a league policy instead of fining and suspending on case-by-case basis.

Best of all, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, recently announced that a panel of four women will help shape a new policy moving forward. With a goal of making a real difference in domestic violence issues as well as others and their effectiveness.

For those shouting from the rooftops about the recent uptick in arrest in sports, these incidents aren’t isolated to sports. Allegations of violence and abuse are happening everywhere from government agencies all the way up to big time companies as well.

Owners of sports teams need to take some time and think through the issues of what type of discipline is appropriate. They also need to figure out whether being disciplined by the legal system is enough, which I think is, or whether each team should add fines or suspensions on top of what the player was sentenced to.

As sports in general reel from one star athlete being accused to another, teams are finding out just how hard it can be to come up with policies that are coherent and consistent beyond what the legal justice system can provide.

If these answers aren’t what teams are searching for, if mob rule is the only way that we can determine what discipline is needed, then perhaps Nancy Grace should be in charge of handing out fines and suspensions.