By Patrick Tamayo
Now that the Super Bowl has come and gone we can move on to basketball, while we wait for baseball, while we patiently wait for football to come back around.
Many of us are enthralled with sports and the millionaire superstars that entertain us. We follow their careers starting in college and sometimes even high school.
Athletes are put on pedestals and looked up to by kids and adults. Fans crowd stadiums to cheer on their teams and their favorite players. They embrace athletes by accepting them with open arms regardless of any of their off-the-field indiscretions.
Athletes surely deserve the recognition for their athletic abilities and the amount of work they have put in, many of them since childhood. They must be aware that their actions come with consequences, even if many of them never have to answer for their incidents.
While star athletes are able to get away with things that normal people would not, they are not completely shielded from the outcome of their actions and behavior.
Even so-called good guys sometimes should have to answer for their actions, like Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning, who led his team to a Super Bowl win just a few weeks ago and who most people know from of his numerous spokesperson gigs.
In 1996, while Manning was the star quarterback at the University of Tennessee, he was allegedly involved in an incident considered a sexual assault. The story became twisted with Manning claiming to have been “mooning” another athlete while getting treatment from an athletic trainer.
The female trainer, however, alleges that after being asked personal questions by Manning, he proceeded to put his private areas in her face. After the incident the school paid the trainer a six-figure settlement that included her leaving the school.
Manning became the school’s leading passer and won several bowl games before being drafted No. 1 in the 1998 National Football League (NFL) draft. Little coverage was given to the incident at the time.
Although Manning has likely played his last game, he was not quite able to ride into the sunset.
On top of the past sexual assault incident, Manning is currently under investigation by the NFL for allegedly having human growth hormone shipped to his home under his wife’s name, as well as being named in a lawsuit against the University of Tennessee for violating Title IX regulations and creating an environment of sexual hostility.
The reason for the incident was not covered by the media and all but went away. At the time, Manning was everyone’s golden child, a status he kept throughout most of his career and culminated with once again being a world champion.
Sexual assault is a topic that both the NFL and colleges know too well. Another NFL quarterback, Jameis Winston, a Heisman trophy winner and National Champion at Florida State, was also involved in a sexual-assault incident in college.
A female student accused Winston of rape while both attended Florida State and sued him. She also alleges that the school intervened in the police investigation.
No charges were filed and the Tallahassee Police Department never even interviewed Winston.
At a student disciplinary hearing at Florida State, Winston failed to answer any questions about the incident and was found not to have violated the student conduct code.
Winston also went on to be drafted first in the 2015 NFL draft by Tampa Bay. His accuser received a $950,000 settlement from Florida State University, although the school admitted no liability for the incident.
Athletes are able to get away with a lot because of their skills and because of the money they help generate, but there comes a time when their egos grow far too large for them to be able to handle.
Former NFL player Darren Sharper is currently incarcerated for drugging and sexually assaulting women in four states. Though Sharper originally agreed to a plea bargain and a nine-year sentence, his case is back on trial and is scheduled to begin May 16.
For the roles they play, athletes will continue to get special treatment and perks that normal people will never get. They will be given chances and opportunities not available to others and many of these benefits can be justified.
As far as kids are concerned, it’s somewhat obvious that if you’re a star athlete you’re probably going to be able to get away with a lot. It then becomes up to them to see exactly how much they can get away with.
It’s a hard concept to grasp when you see star athletes go on to make millions while skating around the law, but athletes must be taught at an early age that although they’re more gifted than most of their peers, their actions can indeed still have consequences.
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