Sports Ethics Blog: On the Ethical Eve of the Draft

NFL DraftIt is said that Las Vegas will take a bet on most anything. I am not exactly a high-roller, but I am willing to put down a $100 wager that one of tonight’s first round draft choices will be involved in an unethical act over the next six months. I am confident I will win.

I note that on the eve of this draft, there may be an alleged, pending murder charge, spousal abuse and drug violations among the first round picks before Roger even steps his feet onto the Chicago stage.

You may think that I am coming across like an arrogant SOB right about now. I will not apologize. After all, I did throw out “uh-oh” names like Johnny Manziel before the last draft – and I was right about that too.

I take no pride in this “stuff,” but still my wager stands.

Don’t you know this is a business, Chuck?

Whenever I bring up ethics and professional football in the same sentence, I invariably get an email from someone who calls me a “naïve twit” or another, equally insulting description. Well, I may be naïve, but I am no twit.

To be honest, a player with bad ethical baggage is a financial liability and everyone is aware of it, even team executives who sometimes cross their fingers and hold their noses before a selection is made. Don’t believe me? We are only hours away from Tampa Bay’s first pick of the first round, and I am still hearing rumblings about Jameis Winston and his “past troubles.” For all I know, he will be drafted first, and I congratulate him but the fact that his unethical past is marching right beside him into Auditorium Theater, is proof enough that there are lingering doubts.

The transition from college to professional football is not like a light-switch. A young man who repeatedly messed up in college will not necessarily see the light once he is drafted. You can look up many examples, and see nothing more than a continuation of poor behavior that follows him right into the pros.

In fact, in a future blog I will show many athletes who messed up in college, who became part of professional scandals after being drafted.

When an athlete is unethical in his behavior as a professional, it affects him as well as his team. Aside from fines and penalties, it is a major distraction.

Here again, is my plea for Sports Ethics training at the collegiate level. What could be harmed by training all collegiate athletes, both men and women to make wise ethical decisions?

It’s too late for tonight

The prospective, first round athletes who are putting on their designer suits as we speak, are too late to get ethical training. As to those already in trouble, they could potentially (collectively) lose tens of millions of dollars because teams now have their doubts.

As for Jameis Winston, we will take a wait and see attitude. Oh, he will make out good all right, but longer term I am not yet sold he will keep his “off-the-field” behavior out of the headlines.

For now, I will get a pizza and a beverage and watch what unfolds like everyone else. However, I will reserve the right to say, “I told you so.”

My $100 will be just fine, but I doubt that ‘Vegas will give me decent odds on my wager.


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