Drug scandal fallout
Bobby Danger Jones
Athletes are only human. Sounds like a cop-out, doesn’t it?
But even so, there are too many cases of peer-pressure influenced circumstances that have destroyed the lives and careers of many athletes.
Hazing, substance abuse and teammate intimidation are all unfortunate aspects of what can go wrong in a team sport environment.
Growing up playing competitive hockey, I heard all the horror stories of making make a high calibre team — you know, the initiations that would follow and even the chance I may have to witness some disturbing events.
When a 14-year-old is told that if he makes AAA next year , he could be hanging a bucket of pucks from his most cherished appendage, or play a game of “Choo Choo” (of which I will spare the explanation), it can be downright intimidating. While my personal experiences with hazing involved “cage raging” — muscle cream in the jock strap, drinking and the occasional tape-on-the-skate-blade trick — today I couldn’t imagine taking the risk. I guess that’s the beauty of hindsight.
The fact is, suspensions, expulsion and even criminal charges await athletes who do not toe the line.
For example, what transpired involving players from the men’s volleyball team of Lethbridge College earlier this month is a perfect showing of how bad decisions can impact an athlete’s life — even at the collegiate level. Athletic director Avery Harrison broke the news to the media when he explained the consequences of the guilty athlete’s actions.
“The Lethbridge College Kodiaks (LCK) men’s volleyball program has been suspended for the remaining 2013-2014 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) regular season, including any post -season activity, due to a violation of the Lethbridge College’s Athletes Code of Conduct by a ‘vast majority of the team’.”
Harrison said it’s not just a case of ‘boys will be boys’, and that it’s time to man up.
“Boys will have to become men one day and decisions in life have consequences and you have to face those consequences — which includes loss of scholarship for those who were involved directly. They made a bad decision. ”
Kodiak student/athletes sign a Code of Conduct form and are each issued a Student Athlete Handbook which in part reads: “As a student athlete you will be highly visible on campus and in the community and as such, you will bear the responsibility of representing the College and the Athletics Department in a positive manner at all times.”
Harrison was “utterly shocked” by the allegations brought forward concerning the athletes and what they had admitted to.
While the details of the case have not been disclosed, Global Lethbridge’s source says the events involved 10 of the 14 members of the men’s volleyball team, and the use and distribution of the popular street drug MDMA — a type of ecstasy.
The RCMP have now opened a criminal investigation because of alleged distribution of the drug by one or two of the suspended athletes.
It is common knowledge that pro-athletes can make some of the dumbest choices. Countless DUI’s, assaults, dog fighting, gun smuggling — the list goes on. But cases of teammate intimidation are rarely reported and tend not to surface in the media.
Former member of the Washington Wizards basketball club, Gilbert Arenas, demonstrated that pros cross the line in the locker room as well. Arenas took teammate intimidation to a whole new level when he took it upon himself to enter the Wizards’ locker room with the intent to intimidate his teammate Javaris Crittenton over a gambling debt, reportedly armed with not just one gun, but several guns.
More recently, the undisputed leader of the Miami Dolphin’s offensive line Richie Incognito has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL pending allegations of bullying former teammate Johnathan Martin. 24-year-old Martin has subsequently left the team and his lawyer David Cornwell said in a statement that, along with Incognito calling Martin a ““half-n*****”’ in a voicemail, threatening to slap his mother across the face and uttering the words “‘I’ll kill you.”’. Another unidentified player threatened to rape Martin’s sister.
Martin missed two days of organized team activities last spring and the coaches encouraged Incognito to get him “in line”. Martin had considered leaving football for good, however after being treated for emotional distress he has decided to continue playing.
When there is a hierarchy within a group of individuals in a team social setting, team members can be influenced by one another both positively and negatively.
Athletes are given opportunities to succeed because they possess skills that set them apart from the norm. However, character and the decision to do the right thing determine everyone’s life, athlete or not.