Last night when I checked ESPN’s college football page, I saw several headlines featuring guilty pleas and player suspensions. It is commonplace for these stories to dominate between spring games and fall camp.
It is understood that these athletes are young adults who have not racked up a lot of life experience. They are still learning to navigate their way through life and trying to figure out who they are.
While knowing that kids/young adults often do things that make us scratch our heads, should age be an excuse their actions? College athletes, especially those on scholarship, should be held at a higher standard. Yes, we are talking about 18-21 year old student athletes, but they are also awarded upwards of 60 to 80 thousand dollar educations depending on the university they attend. They are student ambassadors who should represent their school and team with dignity.
The standards expected from student athletes should include both a criminal and character criteria. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who plead guilty yesterday to failing to identify himself to police, also recently left the Manning Passing Academy early after a reported illness. ESPN also reported earlier this morning that Manziel apologized to his coaching staff for leaving the Manning Academy early.
It’s not shocking that a college student would have a fake ID. My guess is that there are several thousand fake ID’s to be found in the wallet or purse of a someone in that age demographic. It does shock me that someone of Johnny Manziels stature would have several of them, and try to use them while dealing with police. Manziel is college football royalty, and he should act like it. When you are the face of a sport, you have a responsibility to conduct yourself in a professional manner, even if you are still in college. You should be leading the way, not headlines involving court rooms and drinking.
Leaving the Manning Passing Academy very well might have been due to a legitimate illness. As the previously mentioned ESPN report states, many people believe that Manziel’s illness might have been caused by the consumption of alcohol the night before. If this turns out to be the case, Manziel might have done considerable damage to his already weakened reputation. With SEC Media Days underway, there will certainly be plenty of questions for Manziel to answer. Hopefully he is honest with his responses.
NFL teams are paying closer attention than ever to the character of potential employees. Aaron Hernandez and his pending murder case has pushed the issue front and center. The mainstream media has examined the time Hernandez spent at The University of Florida and discovered several incidents he was involved in while playing for The Gators.
Drinking, fake ID’s, and other irresponsible behaviors are nothing compared to murder. They can, however, give insight into someones character. Potential employers might rethink taking a chance on drafting them at all.
Manziel’s example is one of many. Kids do stupid things sometimes, but that should not excuse their actions or exonerate them from scrutiny or discipline. Just because they are 18 (or in Manziels case 20) years old does not mean that it should just be racked up to being young and dumb. These student athletes are not ignorant. They had to meet a requirement to get that scholarship to play NCAA athletics in the first place. While they might not be Rhodes Scholars, they have common sense and the ability to choose their own actions.
Holding them accountable is the only way that they can actually learn from their mistakes and achieve personal growth. Humility can bring behavioral changes that can benefit that “youngster” greatly, and also help gain them employment in the future.
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