Code of Conduct

I was reading through the Code of Conduct policy for athletes at my son’s school.  Mostly because during parent orientation last week the athletic director got up and spoke briefly about what they expect of student athletes.  The sentence that grabbed my attention was, “We expect our athletes to be model citizens 365 days a year.”

We expect our athletes to be model citizens 365 days a year.

Hello….. Roger Goodell…. This might be a policy you want to initiate.  Bud Selig and David Stern you might want to take note also.

My son plays high school soccer.  He is expected for 365 days a year not to do any kind of drugs – including alcohol and tobacco because he’s a minor.  He cannot be arrested or have any type of police report filed against him whether he is charged with a crime or not.  He also cannot commit any act of delinquency nor have any major violations of the student handbook. 365 days a year, not just during the season.  If he violates any of these policies he’s placed on probation for 1 year and cannot return to playing for 4 weeks and has to complete school approved counseling at his own (i.e. parents) expense.  That’s for the first violation.  The 2nd violation is a suspension from all extracurricular activities for 1 year.  The 2nd violation also requires more parental funded counseling and if the violation involves drug/alcohol use:  a clean drug test (also at the parent’s expense) and a second clean drug test at the end of the suspension. 3rd violation = 3 strikes and you’re out.  That seems like a rule the MLB should be able to comprehend.

My son is not a bad kid so these rules aren’t really hard for him to follow.  Now that I have typed that sentence I feel like I’m jinxing myself somehow, but anyway, he should be able to follow those rules for four years without much concentrated effort.  This level of responsible behavior is expected from a teenager, yet we can’t expect the same responsible behavior from adult athletes.  Well I think we as a society expect this from adult athletes even though the organizations that employ them don’t seem to.

Don’t get me wrong all of the professional sports organizations have their share of athletes who are good role models and do succeed at being good citizens year round.  Unfortunately anything they are doing good for their communities they bad-boy team mates are erasing with their arrests and allegations dominating the headlines.

I’m going to specifically pick on the NFL – not a particularly original topic as every blogger in the world has picked on them this year as their organization is an easy target right now.  31 players arrested since February.  Most of them arrested on charges involving drugs or alcohol, weapons and assault and battery.  One of them the infamous Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones.  He was arrested for assault after allegedly punching a woman at a bar.  He states it was self-defense because the woman hit him with a beer bottle after he turned down her request for a picture.  What did the NFL do?  They released a statement saying they stand behind him and they support him and to top it off they had him speak at a symposium for the NFL Rookies.  Here’s a quote from his speech:

 “I can’t control what people say, or what people’s opinion is.  But who are you to judge or say how I’ve grown or what I’ve done. … I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing, being a great father and doing good in the community and keep my head straight and keep doing like I’ve been doing.”

Yep – because punching a woman at a bar demonstrates ‘doing good in the community,’ and ‘being a great father.’  Here’s a tip Pacman, a) let her take the damn picture or b) if you don’t let her take the picture and she hits you with a beer bottle —- WALK AWAY!  Because had you done a) there would be no headline or b) the headline reads “Pacman Jones assaulted by crazy fan at bar” instead of “Pacman Jones arrested for hitting a female at a bar.”

But the NFL, “stands behind and supports” Pacman.  WHAT!?!?!  If Pacman was in high school he’d be missing the first 4 weeks of play, he’d be on school probation for a year and he’d have to submit a clean drug test and complete counseling.  To be fair, several of the arrested players were fired by the individual team owners, but only because the owners made those decisions and not because the NFL was involved.

So my big question here is how come these millionaire athletes have zero expectations of being good citizens?  Do the organizations just say here’s a multi-million dollar contract with no clauses in it concerning if you get arrested or do drugs or punch some psycho chick at a bar.  Where do I sign? Because if I hit some chick in a bar and got arrested – my employer would fire me with no questions asked and they certainly wouldn’t stand behind me no matter what my version of the incident was because when I was hired it was with the understanding that I’m supposed to be a model citizen.  And model citizens don’t get arrested.  Model citizens don’t put themselves in a position where they might be arrested.  It’s about making choices.

You would think that an off-season with 31 players arrested (one on murder charges) would be a wake up call for the NFL.  But instead of putting into place some type of no tolerance policy or even addressing that there is a problem all they have done is launch a diversionary PR campaign called “Back to Football.”

Here’s hoping the younger generation of up and coming athletes learn early on that they need to be role models instead of headlines.