Friday, September 27, 2013

What should be done with athletes facing jail time?

Hernandez facing murder charge
Ranger facing rape charge

My West Coast connection 'Necksy' has a beef. He wants to know why Nile Ranger can play for Swindon in League One (that's English soccer), but Aaron Hernandez can’t play for the New England Patriots (that's American football) despite both facing major jail time.

Ranger is facing a rape trial for an alleged incident in Newcastle, while the former England Under-19 striker was with the Premier League team.

Slightly different, but Hernandez is in prison for the alleged murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro American football player.

Yes, one is in England and one is in America; one is alleged murder and one alleged rape; one is Swindon and the other a big team; but it begs the question, should athletes be allowed to continue playing sport while facing any type of criminal charge?

This interesting article on the BBC highlights the plight of Ilombe Mboyo, a young Belgian footballer who was convicted of rape, but then missed out on a move to the Premier League after serving his time. If a player (or any person) has completed the punishment for their crime, shouldn’t they be allowed to go about their life? But what about someone who is arrested and accused of a crime?

Innocent until proven guilty? Or trial by media?

It’s obvious that Nile Ranger is no saint, he calls himself 'Da Realist' for a start, and has convictions for assault and robbery among others, but he’s allowed to play and earn as a professional athlete. Hernandez is not, but is that due to the overwhelming evidence? The intense media scrutiny? Varying image issues/standpoints across the pond?

It’s an interesting debate, and unfortunately one I think will remain in the public domain while young men are paid stupid amounts of money to play sport, the majority of whom are undereducated, overhyped and on the rise.

It's a discussion that is much bigger than a blog post, that's for sure.