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BSP Question Of The Day 12/8

on Tuesday, 08 December 2015. Posted in Commentary, Back Sport s Page Question Of The Day!, In the Business

Should athletes who have been convicted of a crime be allowed to play pro sports after their penalty is served?

BSP Question Of The Day 12/8

Every Week Back Sports Page asks Five Questions to staff and experts. The questions and answers are posted throughout this week on Backsportspage.com. This week we put the focus around the world of sports!! Check out BSP for this week’s questions

This week we have multiple Back Sports Page Contributors to give their insights to our questions.  

Should athletes who have been convicted of a crime be allowed to play pro sports after their penalty is served?

JD Mowery (Back Sports Page):I feel that pro athletes should get one get out of jail free card.  After that if they are convicted of a crime then they should lose their privilege.

Katie Hutchinson (Back Sports Page):Absolutely. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Ryan Stern (Beyond The Benches):This topic has always had me torn. While I believe that if a person commits a crime, is convicted, and serves their time, they should be allowed to be rejoin the society they were a part of before. However, there is a part of me that wouldn't want a team that I root for to go out and sign said person, as I think it would be a black eye on the organization for allowing a convict on the team. 

Jason Leach (Harlem Times): If an athlete has been convicted of a crime they should have the right to try for reinstatement once they serve their time just like Plaxico Buress and Michael Vick. Whether a team once to sign that player and deal with the backlash is up to them

Steve Saunders (Back Sports Page):It depends on what we regard as their roles in society. Personally, I believe if they'd paid their dues they should be able to enter the workforce just like anyone else. I don't think special arrangements should be made for players i.e. Jamal Lewis not having to serve his prison sentence until after the Super Bowl.

Ashley Mayle (Back Sports Page):I do not think athletes who have been convicted of a crime should be allowed to play pro sports after their penalty is served. These athletes are role models. Allowing these "role models" to return to the spotlight after breaking the law sends the wrong message to the children who look up to and idolize these athletes. By allowing players to return, franchises are telling children it is okay to get caught with drugs or charged with domestic violence (just to list a few). Your consequences will be minimal and your job will be here when you return. This is unfortunate. Consequences exist for the "average" person that commits these crimes such as the loss of a job without reinstatement.

Matt Berkson (Back Sports Page):I think the better question to ask is…If society and the legal system is satisfied with a person serving a penalty then surely a sport should be able to.  We want any human being to hopefully pay for their mistakes, but also learn from them.  And perhaps most importantly…A citizen deserves to have the opportunity to earn a living.  If a sport doesn't give a player a second chance, then what does that say when society is ready to?

Now I can understand if the nature of a player's transgression was directly harmful to the well-being of their respective sport that a player could be banned for life. Certainly Pete Rose is the best example of this.  I do understand why MLB has permanently banned him and would understand if any other sport banned one of their players as well for conduct detrimental to that sport.  However short of that, one a player has paid his debt to society, he should be allowed to have a career in his sport again.

Jay Sanzari (Back Sports Page):Absolutely. An athlete that has been convicted of a crime should definitely be allowed to play professionally after their penalty is served. If someone is convicted and they serve their time then why as a society should we further judge and punish them? Whatever they were convicted of, their time has been served in the eyes of the law.  What gives anyone the right to impede on someone's livelihood because of their past. The only exception I can see here is if the crime was directly related to their sport resulting in a league ban or what have you. In that situation it is understandable for them to not be allowed to play again, but that would have to be determined on a case by case basis.

Now I'm sure some of you are thinking I am saying we allow murderers to come back and play in a professional sports league (you can argue it's already happened), but to that point I raise you the simple point the the punishment will fit the crime. Meaning that if the person were convicted of a severely serious crime, they would receive a similar punishment of a lengthy prison stay or worse. My point is, all of the minor offenders where the punishment is a couple years at most of time served, if the athlete is at a professional level still then they should have the chance to reclaim their status in the professional sports world and show the world and their fans that they have truly changed for the better.

Ryan Morik (Beast of the East Sports):Athletes who have committed a crime should definitely be allowed to play. Sports leagues two main goals are money (popularity for this player will sell) and entertainment (people will tune in to watch the athlete play). Just because you root for a guy on the field doesn't mean you root for him off the field and support his actions.

Scott Thompson (Beats of the East Sports):The point of prison is for the inmates to first realize their wrongs, then make a change for the better and contribute to society. For athletes who committed a crime, what better way to make a change then to get back in a daily routine of playing a sport and helping a team win. Obviously it would depend on the GM, coach and other executives as to whether or not a player convicted is allowed back on the team, but allowing that player to play again if the ultimate form of a second chance

Timmy Dimas (Back Sports Page): Tricky one to answer because if they make it out of jail in enough time to continue their career, the crime wasn't that serious. These guys have a 10-year window to play their sports (baseball a little more), so by the time they come into money and actually get caught committing the crime, they're close to it being over or in a prime position as Michael Vick was. Obviously if someone committed murder or was found in a drug ring cycle, they wouldn't be coming out of jail any time soon. I'm one for second chances, but of course, it's always how serious the crime that was committed that will sway my vote. Sometimes people are Plaxico Burress and inflict self wounds that turn into a crime. Doesn't mean they don't deserve a second chance. 

Nicole Monique (That's What She Said Sports): Charles Barkley said it best “I am not a role model” and people freaked out.  But that’s the problem with sports fans (I should know I’m a diehard sports fans) we want our favorite athletes to wear the cape all the time but they are human and that can be a hard pill to swallow.  With being human – they might mess up and it could be tough to deal with.  But if the court system has done their part who am I to say they don’t deserve a second chance. Outside of sports folks get second chances all the time – but for whatever reason it gets frowned upon in the sports world.

Case in point Mike Vick – I know what he did was wrong.  But some folks really went there and wanted him to serve life and that was ridiculous.  He served his time and lost everything – he should have gotten a second chance but it’s too bad some out there still want to call him a “dog killer” and that’s not fair.  It must be nice to be perfect and to have never made a mistake……

We have to remember if you make a mistake and get another chance hopefully you have learned something and do whatever it takes not to repeat the same mistake. What a great lesson to learn while being part of a sports team.

Matt Berka (Back Sports Page:)It depends. Perhaps the most obvious question is, “what was the crime he or she was convicted of?” The severity of the crime seems to be an important element; being convicted of petty theft is much more forgivable than, say, domestic abuse. It is also important to remember that in a certain way, a professional athlete represents the city he or she plays for, so the question is also not relative to only the athlete. You have to take into consideration how an athlete’s presence would either positively or negatively affect the team, sport, and city as a whole. I doubt that either an organization or city would want a team of convicted felons taking the field, despite the level of talent or potential success.

While these are necessary facets of the question to keep in mind, they do not answer the overall question or whether or not athletes should generally be able to. Second chances and grace are necessary in life. If perfection was the qualification for having a job, then we would live in an earth full of unemployed people. Second chances and grace, though, do not mean that crimes should go unpunished, which is an all-too-common trend in professional sports these days. Star athletes convicted of crimes often walk away with little more than a slap on the wrist and a few games worth of suspensions. Athletes, like the rest of society, must face appropriate punishment and consequences for the crimes they are convicted of. But assuming that his or her penalty is fully and appropriately served, I don’t see why athletes shouldn’t have the opportunity to return to the sport. Of course, it would be up to the discretion of the specific organization, and I think that city approval and support is a crucial part of that. Maybe there should also be a prerequisite of league-wide approval before a team is able to sign the athlete in question.  

If you change the question a bit and ask, “should citizens convicted of a crime be allowed to have a job again?” it seems hard to imagine anyone saying “no.” Despite the glamour and fame that professional sports bring, they are still a job. So, again, I think it comes down to whether or not the organization wants to bring a convicted criminal in, just like it is up to any company, really. So, yes, I think that convicted criminals should be allowed to play professional sports again; however, I do not think they have the automatic, unquestionable right to. 



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