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Athletes’ careers impacted by personal behavior

Aurelie Gaborit de Montjou
Staff Writer

In light of recent incidents concerning National Football League athletes like Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson last week, a question was raised: Should athlete’s private mishaps impact their careers?

On Saturday Sept. 13, 2014, Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings running back, turned himself in after hitting his four-year-old son with a tree branch. He was released later on $15,000 bond. In the state of Texas, he risks two years in jail and $10,000 fine. Peterson was deactivated from the Vikings’ recent game. His future in the NFL is in question.

On Monday Sept. 8, 2014, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was given an indefinite suspension by the NFL, following the release of an eight months old video of him assaulting his fiancé in an elevator.

At the end of 2009, scandal exploded in the golf world when the greatest golfer at the time Tiger Woods was caught as a “serial cheater,” with 14 known mistresses. Woods lost million dollars endorsements with Nike, Gatorade, Gillette and Accenture. Since the scandal, Woods “only” makes $54 million in endorsements – half of what he used to – and he has not won a major tournament; his career has never fully recovered.

These examples are a tiny representation of athlete mishaps in history. I think the outrageous amount of money athletes make put ideas in their heads that they are invincible. In some situations, this idea of invincibility turns out to be quite true, for example when they can buy their way out of trouble for a couple hundred thousands dollars. Because they can afford it and have connections to help them, the sentiment of invincibility builds up. However, they are often made to face consequences for their actions and most of the time, their professional careers are negatively affected.

It should be no surprise for athletes or fans when a career is affected because of any kind of mishap that has been brought to light. Nowadays, athletes are public figures and role models to such a large population across the globe that any mishap on their side could have a negative impact on their career. The reason their careers are affected is that whether they want it or not, fans look up to them and they do have a great deal of influence. I think it would be a shame if athletes careers were not impacted because of their mishaps. Athletes are human beings, and their negative actions should not be disregarded for the sole reason that they are multi-millionaires or that they are able to score a touchdown.

A father who hits his four-year old son should not get away without consequences because he happens to be a famous NFL player. People would be screaming child abuse if Adrian Peterson were a “nobody.”

Companies who pull endorsements from famous athletes obviously don’t want to be associated with negative acts, such as violence or infidelity. I think it is right for companies to drop athletes who have not been good examples to their fans. Athletes know their private mishaps are going to be exposed in the eyes of the public, and shouldn’t be surprised that it impacts their careers. Tiger Woods’ career may have been perpetually damaged by his scandal. However, I think this was deserved, because his behavior reflects the kind of person he is, on and off the course.

In some cases, I think that a negative impact on an athlete’s career can even have a positive impact on the person. Eventually, an athlete whose career has been negatively impacted can become a better person and go back to being a role model to his or her fans.