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It ain't misbehaving, unless you get caught

GRANT'S TOMB:

November 09, 2001

There seems to be a direct correlation between crime and punishment in professional sports and crime and punishment in society.

The rich get off, the poor get punished. Fortunately for everyone involved in professional athletics, they're all rich, thus they all seem to get off.

Take this week's offenders. First you've got New Orleans Saints lineman Kyle Turley and New York Jets defensive back Damien Robinson. If you like the National Football League, then you've got know of these two guys.

Turley, arguably one of the game's best linemen, ripped Robinson's helmet off in Sunday's game after Robinson tried to rip Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks' helmet off after Brooks had just run for a first down in the waning moments of their contest. You must remember how Turley came out of a pile of players with Robinson's helmet in his hand, then flung the helmet downfield before giving the bird to the Jets.

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What sort of punishment did these two fine examples receive? Only a financial one. Neither player was suspended for any amount of time. No, they only were made to give up a portion of money, which probably means little to them. They both also apologized and agreed to seek counseling.

This, of course, makes me wonder just what sort of counseling one gives an NFL player for an onfield explosion. Does the doctor tell the player he shouldn't act so violently? But isn't that part of the game? Perhaps he instructs players to only act violently until the whistle blows, which somehow seems difficult to me. The other option would be for the doctor to tell the players to act as violently as they want to, just don't get caught. The last option makes the most since to me, but what do I know?

My next subject on the pro sports police blotter is Los Angeles Clipper Lamar Odom, he of the sensational game, headband and bad habit. Odom has been busted again for violating the NBA's drug policy.

This is the second time in his two-year career that Lamar has been disciplined for violating the policy. This latest violation pushed Odom in front of television cameras Wednesday, where he cried and lamented the fact that he was letting down his teammates. Which makes me wonder, if he were really worried about letting down his teammates, would he have been smoking pot in the first place?

Don't get me wrong, I figure Odom's just a victim of the NBA drug-testing system, which surely is unfair. I doubt seriously that if the NBA were to test every one of its players on a nightly basis, Odom would have to spend much time alone on the suspended list.

I guess, in the end, these are just two examples of a much larger problem. I've heard people say that professional sports are a microcosm of society, with all of the same problems we have. I say that's untrue. All of these athletes are loaded and hardly seem as if they have to live up to the same standards we do. I ask each of you, if you tried to tear a co-workers head off or were found to be using drugs on the job, what would be the repercussions for your actions? I'm certain that it would be far more serious than a meaningless fine or a suspension. We all know that we would end up being fired and that's all there is to it.

Does this mean I'm advocating firing players who mess up in extreme ways? Maybe I am. Of course I don't think it will ever happen any more than I think Kyle Turley will stop fighting or Lamar Odom will never again violate the NBA's drug policy.

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