Jameis Winston, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner who also is recognized as the best college football player in the nation, was in the news for all the wrong reasons this past week.
According to a storm of tweets, the Florida State quarterback got up in the middle of a cafeteria and yelled things that are not representative of a student, let alone a star who kids and athletes alike look up to throughout the country.
What was the penalty for his outburst that caught the attention of many internet users? Originally, he had to sit out the first half of a game on the bench, which was eventually lengthened to a full-game suspension.
The alarm bells must not have rung in his head that he did something wrong, as on game night against No. 22 Clemson, Winston walked onto the field in uniform, something only players who are participating do.
Luckily enough for the star quarterback and his team, Florida State still won the game, in theory taking the load off of what he did to earn a game on the bench.
If any “ordinary” student at Florida State did the same thing Winston did, some onlookers would laugh, others may have confusion written all over their faces, yet the quarterback is not “ordinary.”
He has millions who know who he is and follow his example, and pulling his shenanigans and then walking onto the field as if he expected to play shows that some athletes are just not getting what it means to be a role model and that falls on leagues and teams for letting it happen.
The governing bodies for many sports have been sending the wrong message to athletes, disciplining offenders for violations such as drug abuse but not taking immediate action on the likes of domestic violence.
In the National Football League (NFL) right now, players who have been suspected or even convicted of committing violent crimes have managed to still maintain their spots on team rosters and in some cases, have continued to play.
Take Greg Hardy as an example. For all intents and purposes, he is a “star” football player and is a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers. On Sept. 7, Hardy played against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recording four combined tackles, sacking the quarterback in the game.
Yet in July, he was sentenced to what will eventually be a 60-day suspended jail sentence, pending an appeal.
Oh, by the way, Hardy violently assaulted his girlfriend.
When kids sit down on their couch with family and friends to watch their favorite team play, they see players introduce themselves on tape with a brief bit of background.
No players who have been in trouble with the authorities mention what mistakes they have made for the world to know. They play on, earning a living without much penalty.
It is unfair to the professionals who step on their individual field every day to entertain the fans while chasing success to get the same treatment as those under investigation.
The league and teams themselves allowing players to continue to snap their helmets on are telling those players to set a bad example.
We can do bad things and still manage to play the sport we love for a lot of money with only minor repercussions.
Sorry, but the two-game suspension that the NFL gave Ray Rice before the video of him either punching or slapping his now-wife, Janay Rice, in a casino elevator was released does not give current players, soon-to-be professionals at the college level, or even children the idea that violence is bad.
That tells everybody that, “Hey, you can go and hit people, than just sit a couple of games so everybody thinks that you are being disciplined.”
There has to be a point when it does not take social outcry for leagues and teams to keep offenders off of the field.
The Ravens did not need video evidence of Rice hitting the woman who is now his wife to terminate his contract.
Sorry, but was video of him dragging her limp body out of an elevator, with Rice looking guilty as guilty can be not enough?
Yes, players make mistakes, but some require consequences that will send a message.
Maybe, just maybe, the next time a high profile athlete does the wrong thing, a league or team will take action, enough to show others that “mistakes,” will not result in a game on a Sunday, but wondering if they will ever get to step on the field again.
The players will then think twice before they set a bad example for the community.