Sports Ethics Story of 2016 (So Far): Laremy Tunsil

 Laremy Tunsil, the highly touted Ole Miss Tackle drafted #13 by Miami, could be the ethical story of the year, providing this year’s presidential race doesn’t get any more idiotic. In fact, we would dare say an entire sports ethics course could be written on Tunsil. It’s not over of course, there will be other players who will emerge in this ethical play, but so far its been over the top interesting.

The Video

The focal point of the 2016 draft, it seems, was Tunsil sucking on a bong while wearing a gas mask. It was a video taken by who knows who, the point of which was who the hell knows? The underlying screw-up, and the fact that the video even exists is due to the fact that Tunsil did not understand the full power of the social media.

Chuck Gallagher teaches, lectures and counsels on the consequences of improper social media use. The video in question will not go away. As long as there is an internet or anything remotely digital, the video will endure. If this number 13 draft pick screws up – just once – the video will reappear. Guaranteed.

No, we do not need to debate the good and bad in regard to Marijuana, for this discussion any social debate is irrelevant. Yes, we know it is legal in some states, but that doesn’t have one bit of bearing on football, the NCAA or the decision to suck on a bong and wear a gas mask and get “photographed.” The video showed an immature young man doing something that he now regrets. We feel badly for him from the point of view that someone needed to teach him about choices, consequences and ethics, and no one did.

This morning we heard on sports talk radio that the reason this number one draft pick fell to 13 was all over a “misunderstanding.” What the misunderstanding might be we just don’t know. Maybe the misunderstanding had to do with the bong video being an old video. Again, for teams like the Ravens who passed on him at number 6, the age of the video was nowhere as important as the fact that it was made in the first place. The bong cost him millions.

It was also rumored that someone had been shopping the video around for weeks. Who, we wonder, was that person? A “friend?” A member of his entourage? Or a bottom feeder and wannabe? It brings up other ethical issues. Who is an athlete associating with, and what do those people want? Reputation is possibly the most important aspect of off the field behavior.

Bottom feeders, feed; that’s what they do. We’ll get to that in a minute. Nevertheless, if the video hadn’t been made, there would have been no video to sell. Yes, we are sounding like broken records – it is intentional.

There is an argument to be made that Laremy Tunsil was a legitimate number one pick. The line between an offer and no offer of number one pick money is an extremely fine line. Give a team a legitimate reason to “pass” and they will. Tunsil made the claim his Twitter account was “hacked.” We will suspend belief and say that it was. OK, who hacked it? The very latest news claims it was a former financial advisor.


Even if the advisor was a hi-tech genius, and even if the advisor somehow got hold of the video, what kind of ethical decision making process led Tunsil to hire an unethical fool like that in the first place? Is this a licensed financial advisor with a major firm or a registered sports agent? Or was this the brother-in-law of a second cousin who once watched the “Big Short?” Was the financial advisor story just a work of fiction concocted by “Team Tunsil” to spin the original story away from yet another bad decision? We don’t yet know.

Adding to this ethical mess, are the apparent money transfers from coach to player to cover rent and food. Tunsil has also been accused of being immature in admitting he took money from the coaching staff. It is as though people are angry at him for exposing deep dark secrets that only happen at Ole Miss.

The Case for Ethics

Why sports ethics? Why should any athlete or athletic program have sports ethics training? Laremy Tunsil is exhibit “A.” This case has it all: social media abuse, poor decision making, inappropriate relationships, rules violations and drug issues.

Laremy Tunsil has incredible potential to make an impact on the league providing he does not allow poor decisions to destroy his career.

Ethical training, not more layers of “friends,” handlers and wannabe’s can help him keep on the right path.




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