Amen and thank you to Dave McKenna on his piece “Drunk With Power” (Cheap Seats, 12/13). Someday I hope that more people wake up and realize that by “protecting” our sports “heroes” we are doing our children—and ourselves—more harm than good.
I have watched in utter amazement as people with disposable incomes laugh at DUI charges. This hits even harder, now having watched a friend sit in a Florida jail for six weeks on a DUI charge because I wasn’t working and none of his drug-addicted friends would give up the $50 he needed to help post bail. Why is it that society can scuff at and think punishment is deserved for blue-collar workers who get caught, yet those same people will rally against a system that tries to reprimand the “untouchables,” like Juwan Howard?
As the article stated, perhaps it is the commercialism and the millions to be made from the advertisement of alcohol, but what are we teaching our kids? “You can drink and endanger lives as long as you are high-profile and making megabucks. But if all you want to be is a schoolteacher, you better follow the laws!” (I have a degree in Education, so I am not minimizing the field.) Aren’t celebrities teachers, too? Aren’t they the examples that our nation’s young look up to? Why is it OK for one group but not another?
We want role models? Well, let’s make a few out of drunk drivers. What on earth will make them stop the DUI habit if they know that their money and their supporters (fans as well as associations such as the NBA) will protect them? I am willing to bet that if our “heroes” were forced to spend six weeks in a county jail, they just might think twice before getting on the road after a night of partying.
Furthermore, while it may be legal, alcohol is still a drug, and if players are going to be benched for possession of cocaine, they should at least be benched for the threat of attempted manslaughter that driving under the influence of alcohol carries. Sports figures and other celebrities may be heroes for all of us, young and old, but they are still simply human. If we are going to continue claiming that we live within a system that promotes equality, let’s start treating people equally by telling our “heroes” that the money they make from our support will not be there to protect them from their putting our lives in danger.