Sam Speaks Sports: Athletes fall from grace

In the recent weeks, we have seen yet another athlete remove themselves from the spotlight. Ryan Lochte, a member of the US men’s Olympic swim team was caught in a lie, and it has cost him millions of dollars, as well as his reputation. This scandal brings to mind other past athletes who have fallen from grace in the aftermath of some controversy, as well as those few athletes, who are able to overcome the drama and stay in the spotlight.

The most infamous case of this would be the trial of OJ Simpson, the former Heisman trophy winner and NFL hall of fame running back who was accused of a double homicide including his ex-wife Nicole Brown. Simpson was acquitted of the charges after a long trial that garnered attention from the entire nation, not only football fans. However, if you ask people today many still believe the evidence shows he was guilty. After the trial, Simpson was never able to return to the pinnacle he had once achieved and in 2008, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison over an armed robbery case, according to Fox News.

A similar situation is that of Tiger Woods, who was the face of golf for over a decade. When it became public knowledge that he had had multiple affairs with his then wife, his career began to spiral out of control. Shortly after the news broke he took a break from professional golf. While he would comeback, both injuries and his tarnished image continue to this day to hinder his performance and as of now Woods has missed all major tournaments in 2016, according to Yahoo News.

On the other hand, there are those few athletes who have been caught in a scandal, but have been able to retain their public image, which brings up the never ending debate of athletes being above the law. Kobe Bryant, considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, was accused of sexual assault in 2003 by an employee of a hotel he was staying at in Eagle, CO. Over a year later, the charges were dismissed. Much of the public was still skeptical of Bryant and his character, but he regained his sponsorship deals with Nike, Spalding and Coca-Cola after the charges had been dropped. He also went on to sign a seven-year, $136 million contact after the incident, according to the LA Times.

A similar case involves Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. In 2009 he was accused of sexual assaulting a 31-year-old woman in Lake Tahoe, UT. The case would drag on until 2011, when the two sides reached an agreement. Then, in 2010 in Midgeville, GA, a 20-year-old student accused Roethlisberger of another sexual assault incident. The charges were eventually dropped, but these two incidents continue to hurt Roethlisberger in the public eye, according to USA Today. However, his success on the eld has continued and he is still loved by many fans.

We see time and time again professional athlete’s status come in to play when they get in trouble with the law. Whether that is right or not becomes the debate. At the end of the day they, should be seen as any other citizen that breaks the law. They should receive a fair trial, and if found guilty should serve the proper punishment, yet if found innocent should be able to move on from the incident. However, we still see both punishments and verdicts affected by who is on trial, as opposed to the crime committed.

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