MONEY DOES NOT BUY MATURITY
By: Luis Vazquez
It is a privilege to wear the uniform of a professional sports team. It is not a right. That determination is made by the one footing the bill. In this case the owner of said sports team. They offer an athlete a large sum of money to play a game. It is not rocket science or computer programming. It is a diversion or distraction for society to spend their collective off hours watching or attending.
The men who play the game are professional athletes. This means that you are responsible for your conduct. In the case of two specific New York athletes, Alex Rodriguez and J.R. Smith, we have seen what happens when one is in denial or has a higher opinion of himself than is shared outside of their own minds.
J.R. Smith was a nine year NBA enigma that was brought to New York where he was able to re-invent himself and in the process, win the NBA Sixth Man award. He was rewarded with a three year contract. Since then J.R. has been nothing more than infantile at best, irrational at worst. He started the season by getting suspended for possession of marijuana. He was outspoken about the Knicks dealing with his brother, who is a marginal talent at best. He incorrectly badmouthed the organization when they released Chris. Yet had the Knicks done so earlier, they would have saved six figures in salary on him.
Yet, J.R. sees the world through his own set of glasses. How else to explain the great untying sneaker incidents which cost him 10, 000 and the support of his coach, Mike Woodson, who has since sat him down for two complete games and one quarter of another in the last five contests.
J.R. saw it as harmless fun. Management saw it as another example of his lack of maturity. As soon as J.R. got his guaranteed money from New York he reverted to type and has been a drain on the team this season and nearly cost Woodson his job as he has contributed close to nothing this season.
Alex Rodriguez is definitely in his own superstar world. The player he was disappeared three years ago. It’s a shame really because with all the alleged PED use coming to the surface, you would have thought he would have better results. But at 39, Alex, who has declined horribly has spent the last season and off season fighting Major League Baseball, The New York Yankees, and the Player’s Association. He has admitted publicly to not using banned substances, followed by a admission in 2009, with no repercussions mind you, and has since denied again he every used it to drag baseball into one of its darker chapters.
Baseball was too quiet in its salad days of Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa. They have erred by letting both just disappear and not take their medicine. But Alex, playing this case out as a victim has only made it weird around his teammates and baseball and he will succeed in alienating everyone in the sport he deems has failed him. He is trying to destroy the infrastructure of a sport that went to great lengths to come to a deal to face this most sensitive issue. Alex lawyer,
Joseph Tacopina spoke to ESPN, where he was reported as saying that some PED users are God-like in Boston now. The assumption is David Ortiz is one. Ortiz is one of Alex best friends. It has always been alleged that Alex looks out for himself. To quote in reverse what he said in 2009, Alex is not in a good place right now. He is unwilling to make any concessions and it appears what Alex wants, Alex gets. So as the MLB arbitrator made his decision and Alex was suspended for 162 games plus post season we get his answer, going to federal court.
This is a grand example of what is wrong in sports and how money can be bestowed into the wrong hands. In the future it will be just as important to decide on players by looking into their makeup as people first and talent second. These latest examples should serve as a testament to where sports has been heading. When the athlete feels compelled to not look within himself and lay the burden of his actions on others, including teammates or friends, or by extension, a league, then this is how it looks. Don’t bother polishing up that crystal ball for that stain you see is from the inside.