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Thread: Athletes breaking the law

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Samuel_Vimes's Avatar
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    Athletes breaking the law

    So the Pistorius case, NFLers being charged with domestic violence, Chris Cairns, and today the biggest skiing star in Norway pleading guilty to on courts of reckless driving while drunk and perverting the cause of justice through perjury...just a lot of criminal cases around atm. Got me thinking.

    What, if any, kind of off-field crimes are serious enough that a sport federation or club should ban you from competing, even after you've served your legal sentence? I do kinda appreciate the view that the sport should respect the legal process and not make its own kangaroo court, even if it is immediate bad PR ('oh noes a criminal is being a role model to my kids'); at the same time some crimes, particularly violent ones, kinda indicate that you are not capable of respecting the rules of sport.

    Thoughts?
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    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel_Vimes View Post
    So the Pistorius case, NFLers being charged with domestic violence, Chris Cairns, and today the biggest skiing star in Norway pleading guilty to on courts of reckless driving while drunk and perverting the cause of justice through perjury...just a lot of criminal cases around atm. Got me thinking.

    What, if any, kind of off-field crimes are serious enough that a sport federation or club should ban you from competing, even after you've served your legal sentence? I do kinda appreciate the view that the sport should respect the legal process and not make its own kangaroo court, even if it is immediate bad PR ('oh noes a criminal is being a role model to my kids'); at the same time some crimes, particularly violent ones, kinda indicate that you are not capable of respecting the rules of sport.

    Thoughts?
    I wonder what John Terry makes of these sorts of postulations.

    On a serious note though, this is an interesting issue. Immediately after reading your post I thought of the late Edward Grayson, who somewhat famously proclaimed "the law of the land does not end at the touchline". It's kind of the reverse of what you're getting at here, but a friend of mine is writing a PhD on this area at the moment, the objective of which is to challenge this assertion. I think her stance on this is nonsense, quite frankly, and think Grayson's maxim is ultimately right.

    However. I am not so sure when looking at things from the other perspective. There are generally very few criminal offences, iirc, that necessarily debar people from working in a certain profession. Sex offenders obvs can't work with children, people who commit serious white collar crimes or act negligently/fraudulently as the shareholder of a company will be banned from taking up similar roles in the future, and serious negligence and/or dishonesty or other nefarious behaviour will lead to doctors/lawyers etc... being struck off and having their license to practice revoked. But these are all instances whereby it would not be appropriate by any standard for someone with a record of such misdemeanours to ever be employed again in such a capacity - their ability to perform any of these roles would have irreparably been brought into disrepute. Aside from match-fixing or something of that sort, I can't think of anything a sporting competitor could do (off the field, anyway) that would warrant a permanent ban in addition to a criminal conviction already imposed on them by a court.
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Samuel_Vimes's Avatar
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    Yeah I'm torn on it as well.

    I see that Anheuser-Busch has issued a statement on the NFL, saying

    We are not yet satisfied with the league's handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own moral code.
    Leaving a side the concept of the moral code of a company that produces alcohol, that's probably the way this will be 'solved'. Sponsors forcing a moralistic holier-than-thou attitude on the sport organizations.

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    I'm happy for natural justice to prevail - certain players leaving the sport because teams wont touch them as it'll drive sponsers away. However it rarely happens, not in football anyway. Lee Hughes spent time for killing someone drunk driving, but when he came out I think it was Oldham who snapped him up. Likewise Chad Evans will find someone (if not Sheff Utd) once his rape conviction is spent. Marlon King managed to make a living beating defenders when he wasn't beating women...

    However, removing someone's livelihood as a given because of crimes where time has been served doesn't fit well with me. As for crimes showing you cannot abide by rules of sport... Well anyone who saw the unblemished career of OJ Simpson might be surprised to know he's an armed robbing alleged murderer.... In fact, for some, the structure and rules of a team sport can be something they can follow and respect, especially with an authoritative figure controlling them - however leave them to their own ways in society and they go awry. How many professional footballers have given the 'football saved me, if it wasn't for this I'd be in a gang/on the streets' interview.
    Last edited by cpr; 16-09-2014 at 03:14 PM.
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    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpr View Post
    I'm happy for natural justice to prevail - certain players leaving the sport because teams wont touch them as it'll drive sponsers away. However it rarely happens, not in football anyway. Lee Hughes spent time for killing someone drunk driving, but when he came out I think it was Oldham who snapped him up. Likewise Chad Evans will find someone (if not Sheff Utd) once his rape conviction is spent. Marlon King managed to make a living beating defenders when he wasn't beating women...

    However, removing someone's livelihood as a given because of crimes where time has been served doesn't fit well with me. As for crimes showing you cannot abide by rules of sport... Well anyone who saw the unblemished career of OJ Simpson might be surprised to know he's an armed robbing alleged murderer.... In fact, for some, the structure and rules of a team sport can be something they can follow and respect, especially with an authoritative figure controlling them - however leave them to their own ways in society and they go awry. How many professional footballers have given the 'football saved me, if it wasn't for this I'd be in a gang/on the streets' interview.
    What about the John Terry business? Where do you stand on that, just out of interest?

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    cpr
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    Which? The racism thing? He's a **** for sure, but if Chelsea want to keep paying his wages, then I can't argue. If he keeps doing it, then the bans get bigger, and the club (and any other club) need to decide if he's worth keeping.

    I suppose I need to distinguish between on the pitch and off the pitch incidents - Yes if its something thats been done within the realms of the sport, be it in a match, or outside (eg taking PEDs), then I can understand hefty, almost career ending, punishments depending on the situation. However if its not something that infringes on the playing of a sport (ie taking sponsors and the ilk out of it), then my above applies

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    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    Yeah, what I was getting at was the fact that he wasn't even convicted of the alleged offence, but was in fact acquitted. Nevertheless, he was given a ban. Granted it wasn't a permanent one, but it's an example of another punishment being imposed in lieu of a would-be legal sanction. I just wondered how that fitted in to your outlook on these things.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Samuel_Vimes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    Yeah, what I was getting at was the fact that he wasn't even convicted of the alleged offence, but was in fact acquitted. Nevertheless, he was given a ban. Granted it wasn't a permanent one, but it's an example of another punishment being imposed in lieu of a would-be legal sanction. I just wondered how that fitted in to your outlook on these things.
    It happened on the field of play, did it not? So that's slightly different - he 'broke the rules of conduct while playing' - and it also carries a different burden of proof, when you play sport you accept that the presumption of innocence doesn't hold within that sphere.

    I *think* celeb culture and no one saying no to the alpha male has a part to play in athletes getting involved in crimes, but that's probably solvable through addressing the first two problems directly, not eliminating those who get caught.

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    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    Yes, true, but yet the law did very much get involved as well. What I took from cpr's post was as a matter of principle he believes that once the law has had its say, other decision-making bodies like the FA should steer clear. I was just seeking clarification.

    Like you say though, the fact that this incident did happen on the field of play makes it a rather difficult issue. Perhaps a poor example on my part.

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    cpr
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    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    Yes, true, but yet the law did very much get involved as well. What I took from cpr's post was as a matter of principle he believes that once the law has had its say, other decision-making bodies like the FA should steer clear. I was just seeking clarification.
    I wanted to refute that, but I suppose in a way that is what i've said...

    I guess I'd feel it was wrong if the law had punished him, then the FA had banned him for life. I suppose I don't have an issue with the FA giving bans for bringing a game into disrepute on top of a legal sanction if it is fair and just - certainly nothing excessive such as life.... To clarify the word 'Livelihood' in my post, I meant as a permanent thing rather than temporarily - I suppose my employer can suspend me for things the police deem unworthy to investigate, so I've no issue with a sport applying sanctions. However to turn around and say 'This is all you've done since you were a kid, now you're never working in this field again because you got drunk one night and did thing X' is too much IMO.

    A better example would've been Cantona. He got 200 hours community service, and the FA banned him for 7 months. Whilst the Utd fan in me thinks it was unjust, theres a part that does say, 'Well, he did drop kick a fan in the chest.....', so I suppose thats a better example of the FA putting a fair ban on someone as the law's sanctions can't really be enough...
    Last edited by cpr; 16-09-2014 at 04:25 PM.

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    Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper Luke McCormick killed children in a car crash while very drunk. He was sacked by the club but having done a spell in prison he's back as first choice keeper. I would not have him there at all and feel very uncomfortable having to watch him. In the first instance the time he spent in prison was inadequate for the crime. Secondly, although he has to rebuild his life if the authorities deem it appropriate that he should be freed, it shouldn't be in the public eye for the sake of the bereaved families.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel_Vimes View Post
    So the Pistorius case, NFLers being charged with domestic violence, Chris Cairns, and today the biggest skiing star in Norway pleading guilty to on courts of reckless driving while drunk and perverting the cause of justice through perjury...just a lot of criminal cases around atm. Got me thinking.

    What, if any, kind of off-field crimes are serious enough that a sport federation or club should ban you from competing, even after you've served your legal sentence? I do kinda appreciate the view that the sport should respect the legal process and not make its own kangaroo court, even if it is immediate bad PR ('oh noes a criminal is being a role model to my kids'); at the same time some crimes, particularly violent ones, kinda indicate that you are not capable of respecting the rules of sport.

    Thoughts?
    I don't have a problem with clubs deciding they don't want certain players representing them for off-field issues, but I always feel uneasy when overall sporting bodies impose bans for off-field incidents, especially when it's clear clubs want to sign up/select the player(s) in question anyway.

    Of course this is their right because, like the clubs, they have a responsibility to their sponsors, their image and the prosperity of their competition/sport as a whole -- I just really don't like it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lillian Thomson View Post
    Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper Luke McCormick killed children in a car crash while very drunk. He was sacked by the club but having done a spell in prison he's back as first choice keeper. I would not have him there at all and feel very uncomfortable having to watch him. In the first instance the time he spent in prison was inadequate for the crime. Secondly, although he has to rebuild his life if the authorities deem it appropriate that he should be freed, it shouldn't be in the public eye for the sake of the bereaved families.
    Remember that case well, as the family involved were from the town next to mine. I suppose playing for a league 2 club 400 miles away is as away from the public eye as possible in this case. But looking at his from his angle - his career is football, its all he's ever done. He needs that to rebuild his life. He'd massively struggle to retrain and find something that could possibly give him the kind of financial benefit football could. He did go relatively obscure with Truro when he was released, but bigger clubs wanted him, so why should he not go?
    He made a ridiculously stupid mistake, drunk on alcohol and love from what I gathered from it (he was going back to his girlfriends to patch up some argument?). He admitted his wrongdoing, and he'll live with it for the rest of his life. The state - rightly or wrongly - has decided he has served his penalty (IIRC he got 7+ years, so must've been a model prisoner to be out), so I would find it immoral if, for example, the FA to decide he had no way back into the sport.

    That doesn't change your opinion on him, or make it any less correct - and if everyone felt the same he'd probably not stay around for the backlash, nor would the club let him (especially if the sponsors had their input). I don't mind that if club/fan power decrees they do not want a certain player at a side, it'd just be if the FA enforced such a decision.

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    This perhaps applies more to the breaking of sporting rather that statute laws, but it often seems governing bodies are altogether keener on the turning of a blind eye if athletes' transgressions aren't bad for business.

    Whilst Bonds and McGuire were smacking home runs for fun and Armstrong winning Tour after Tour there was never much will to acknowledge the massive syringe-shaped elephant in the room.

    Chucking in cricket has also benefitted from this kind of willful official myopia over the last decade or so. For every cycling enthusiast who yelled "Lance has never failed a drugs test" we had an Ajaml apologist telling us "He's been cleared in a lab."
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    Been waiting a long time for this haven't you

    I agree with LT ftr, he was an example that came to mind.

    We had Clayton McDonald for a few games early in the season. He was cleared of all charges in the Ched Evans case but someone then threw a link up to Evans on our forums and asked whether we might be interested in him upon his release. Got me thinking, but ultimately I take my young daughter the match and do I want her stood there cheering a convicted rapist?

    Not that I'd feel happy about it anyway but hey ho.

    Of course, Evans vehemently argues his innocence and has a website providing a series of 'facts' in his favour but unless there is ever an appeal then I would hope my club would take such a stance, given its attempts to position it as a 'community club'

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