Athletes Lifes – Drugs And Violence

Heroes with Double Lives
Some Athletes in society today are considered heroes despite their double lives. Their drug use and violence are brushed aside while leading their teams to victory
Who is your hero? If that question was asked to a group of people, some might think of loved ones or family, and some may talk about doctors, firemen, or even a teacher. However, most would probably say their hero was some celebrity or star athlete. While some celebrities and athletes can justifiably be labeled heroes, there are some people who may appear to be heroic, but lead a completely different life off the field.

Even movies in Hollywood mirror this double lifestyle. After watching Any Given Sunday in class I was appalled by the casual drug use in the film by two particular football players. During the day these two men made tremendous strides for their team (the Sharks), but at night these men were completely different. They were snorting cocaine and other illegal drugs while they appeared to be entertained by prostitutes. Even though this movie was not based on a true story, it can very well resemble the truth in athletics today.
There are several athletes who have been arrested and convicted of crimes, however three men have been the center of attention for the past few years. Players such as Daryl Strawberry, Michael Irvin, and Ray Lewis have proved to be heroes for their team and even the sports they play for, but their lives are far less than heroic. Drug use, sexual assault, and murder are the charges brought upon some of these men.

Daryl Strawberry had always seemed like a natural when it came to baseball. He was a starting player for the Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and the New York Yankees. The Yankees labeled him a Star Outfielder. Playing professional since 1983, he was an all-star player for eight consecutive years. Some people probably thought of him as a hero, but failed to know the whole truth.
Daryl Strawberry’s problems with his personal life seemed to have surfaced around 1990. That year he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and was allegedly going to use the weapon on his wife. That same year, he was an all-star player. In 1993 he was arrested for hitting his girlfriend while helping the L.A. Dodgers score 675 runs that season. 1995 was also an interesting year for Strawberry. In that year alone he was charged with failing to pay child support, owed $350,000 in back taxes which confined him for six months in his home (except for baseball games of course!), and still played with the Yankees to help them finish 2nd in the American League Eastern Division.
Just four years later in 1999 he was arrested and put on eighteen months probation for drug and solicitation charges. He was also suspended that year from baseball, but was allowed to participate in postseason batting. Just this past October (2000), Strawberry was put under house arrest for 2 years for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of the accident. While he was under house arrest he left his home without permission, and when he was found, he tested positive for cocaine. He was arrested for that incident.

Michael Irvin is another athlete who had great statistics and was looked up to by Dallas Cowboy fans. In his career he had 65 receiving touchdowns and had more than 11,500 receiving yards. Why was he only suspended for five games when he was found guilty of cocaine possession? The first time found with cocaine, Irvin was suspended for five games, and the second time he was also suspended five. Did Irvin not learn his lesson the first time?
In July of 1995 Michael Irvin was found guilty of cocaine possession and only received a five game suspension. Just a year later Irvin was found in a hotel room with ten grams of cocaine, one ounce of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia. Prostitution was also suspected in the hotel room. Irvin received four years probation, a $10,000 fine, and was suspended for another 5 games. His marijuana possession charge was also dropped. Six months later Irvin was another hot topic of the media. He was arrested because he allegedly held a gun to a twenty-three year old woman’s head while teammate Erik Williams forced her to have sex with him. Irvin denied the accusations and Barry Switzer (his football coach) had no comment. Switzer also doubted that the allegations would distract the team from practicing for the second round of playoffs against the Panthers.

According the NFL (National Football League), Irvin would not be restricted from playing that week because of the accusations. He had to be convicted of it first. Also, his attorney John Godden said that he would not be prevented from leaving the state while the investigation was under way. It seems as though the NFL brushed aside the crime, and would not believe the woman who accused Irvin. Irvin was allowed to practice for and play in the playoff game against the Panthers despite the crime he had just committed with a fellow teammate.

Another hero of the NFL is Ray Lewis who plays for the Baltimore Ravens. Lewis has been an All-Pro three times, in 1999 he was the NFL’s leading tackler, and this past January he was named MVP of the Superbowl. The Ravens player faced murder charges along with two other men because two people at a nightclub after the 2000 Superbowl were stabbed to death. Lewis claims that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, but he was the one found with the knife.
I am not a lawyer, and I was not there so I do not know what actually happened. However, murder is a very serious charge, and the fact is that Lewis only spent fifteen days in jail. He was fined a lot of money, but did not get suspended from any games for the next season. The next season, he played all sixteen games.
The point I am trying to make in this paper is that athletes who commit these crimes are being let off way too easily. Even Ray Lewis says, the NFL hit me with one of the biggest fines in sports history for a misdemeanor while the league’s drug users, drunken drivers, and wife beaters never get hit half as hard. That quote defends my argument perfectly. When some people find out about illegal acts done by athletes, they may try to cover it up or act like it does not happen. This issue raises another question in my mind. Why won’t the other teammates confront the drug user/wife beater/rapist? Also, if the NFL knows that some players are using illegal drugs, why don’t they administer drug tests on a regular basis?
In Any Given Sunday two players were shown doing drugs. Some of the other players had to know about it, and did not approve. The teammates doing the drugs were never caught in the duration of the movie, and it did not seem like a big deal at all. The movie made it seem that if you played football and were in the NFL, you could do whatever you wanted to. Is this movie really fictional? I think not.

In conclusion, I am disgusted with athletes that get off easy for crimes they commit. Some athletes get slaps on the wrists or fines for crimes that I could be put in jail for. I am also appalled that the organizations that the athletes play for (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) seem to pretend they do not know what is going on. The organizations should take an active stance against getting these tainted players off their teams.
Why are athletes still getting off the hook for these heinous crimes? What can be done about it? The solution is simple. The coaches and organizations that these athletes play for should be under a rule of 2 strikes, and you’re out! There is no reason why some of these athletes should be allowed to compete in sports while having more than two arrests/accusations/crimes committed! Daryl Strawberry should have been banned from Major League Baseball back in 1993 if this rule was in affect. A murder is a totally different story. Michael Irvin could have killed the woman while he held the gun to her head. He should have never been allowed back in the NFL, and moreover, should not be allowed to be a broadcaster for a pre-game show now! Since Ray Lewis was found innocent, I agree he should still be allowed to play, but if he ever gets any arrests again, he should be banned.

Whether it be the Daryl Strawberrys, Michael Irvins, or Ray Lewis’s in the world, it is blatantly obvious there is a problem with the double standard that is present in the world of sports. Furthermore, these men’s names should never appear in the same sentence as ‘hero’ ever again.


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