So you want another example of how $$$$ have corrupted the deeper meanings that once brought pride to those who achieved great things in sports? How one's sense of value and perspective get bent out of shape when financial rewards take precedence over expectations and "rules" of the game.
You don't have to look any further than today's ESPN report of Terrelle Pryor and four other teammates (Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Solomon Thomas) selling memorabilia, awards, and signatures for money and services.
Here, take a look:
The material items in question, as reported by ESPN College Football (Ohio State football players sanctioned), comprise:
- Pryor's 2008 Big Ten championship ring, Fiesta Bowl Sportsmanship Award [Really???], and his 2008 Gold Pants
- Herron's football jersey, pants, and shoes
- Posey's 2008 Big Ten championship ring
- Adams 2008 Big Ten championship ring
- Thomas's 2008 Big Ten championship ring and his 2008 Gold Pants
And this does not include the discount on services from a tattoo parlor that Herron, Posey, and Thomas received.
The NCAA has suspended these five players for five games NEXT SEASON. Yep, that is correct, not starting with the upcoming Sugar Bowl which would make the consequence more immediate and impactful, but the following football season.
The reasoning behind why these consequences should be moderated, according to Athletic Director Gene Smith:
"The time this occurred with these young men was a very tough time in our society. It's one of the toughest economic environments in our history. The decisions that they made they made to help their families."
The NCAA does make exceptions for athletes competing in championships if they determine that the athletes in question did not know they were committing a violation. And, on paper, that does hold some sound reasoning.
However, in this particular situation, it will be hard for any logical person to accept the idea of selling "awards" one has earned, things that should have deep meaning and bring great pride to the individuals who received them, things most anyone would want to keep for a lifetime, was deemed an acceptable thing to do. And that is by any standard, not just NCAA standards.
And that comment by Smith (and Posey's mother) that their real purpose in all of this centered on helping out their families really does nag at me. It certainly does not bode well with the trading of their personas for services, nor does it sit well with some of the first questions that come to mind when someone justifies improper behavior based on a family's financial strife. Questions like:
Do these athletes have expensive cell phones, and all the more posh amenities that can come with them?
Do they have nice cars to drive around in? If so, who paid for that? Who is paying the insurance?
Are they sporting the nicer, trendier clothes, shoes, and bling available?
Are there other "wants" and "extravagances" that they spend money on and insist are things they need?
If so, then the reasoning that they were trying to help their families out with the money procured by selling these items holds little meaning. Normally, you would think that those above items would go long before a championship ring.
If not, and they and their families are truly doing without, balancing on the brink of financial disaster, then one could effectively argue from their position and become more sympathetic to the NCAA's decision of a mitigated consequence.
In all honesty, I do not have the answers to the questions posed above and will reserve further comment based on this lack of knowledge. I am sure there will be much more on this topic before all the dust settles; there always is.