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Spoiled Sports This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The modern athlete is younger and wealthier than ever before. Many of these athletes, however, cannot handle the pressure their multi-million dollar contracts bring, and find themselves in trouble with the law. Other athletes, such as Charles Barkley, Tony Phillips, and the Dallas Cowboys cannot use youth as an excuse. Yet, as a nation, we glorify these athletes despite their problems off the playing field.

NBA Rookie of the Year, and convicted felon, Allen Iverson was again involved in controversy this past off-season. After pleading "no contest" to charges of possession of marijuana, he was given a one-game suspension and a fine. This clearly is not a stiff enough penalty, and sets a poor example. Furthermore, even though a recent study by The New York Times reveals that 60% of NBA players use marijuana, the league this season will be cracking down on the length of players' shorts! Several players (including Chris Mills of the Knicks) have received letters from league officials demanding that the length of their shorts be reduced. It is sadly clear that the League would rather be the "Fashion Police" than the DEA.

Another embattled athlete (and Alabama Gubernatorial hopeful) is Charles Barkley, who was again involved in a late-night barroom brawl, in which he threw a man through a window. In fact, Charles does not deny the allegations and refuses to apologize. League officers met in New York to decide whether to suspend Barkley, but after he threatened to retire they backed off. (Sir Charles did miss a game in meeting with the officials, though.)

Our culture's glorification of the American athlete makes it impossible for authorities to punish them justly for their actions. They are simply too valuable on the playing field. This problem should be expected, considering that the minimum salary for veterans of all four major sports leagues exceeds that of the President's. The business of sports is booming (the NBA recently sold its TV rights for $2.4 billion) and it is clear that the respective leagues do not want to risk their success on or off the court with the problems of their elite players. l


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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