Alan C. Milstein writes at the Sports Law Blog:
…. Another African American superstar athlete has been prosecuted by the Justice Department for perjury arising from the Balco Grand Jury. Now Marion Jones, winner of five Olympic medals and probably the best female athlete of our time, has been sentenced to 6 months in prison by a federal judge in New York.
The Judge’s remarks in sentencing Jones are curious and reflect the double standard facing celebrated sports figures.
…. “Athletes in society,” he continued, “have an elevated status. They entertain, they inspire and perhaps most importantly, they serve as role models for kids around the world. When there is a widespread level of cheating, it sends all the wrong messages to those who follow these athletes’ every move.”
What is that? Jones, who is still nursing her seven month old, has to spend six months locked away from her family and the rest of us because she disappointed the kids who idolized her? Where in the sentencing guidelines is that factor?
He goes on to challenge whether members of the Bush/Gonzalez Justice Department, who have done nothing but lie and obstruct justice for going on 8 years now, have the moral authority to sentence anyone to prison for lying.
Rick Karcher also wonders just what the hell is going on:
…. I can’t ever recall a situation in which “role model” status of the defendant had any impact on a judge’s sentencing decision. And there is good reason for that.
First, role model status is entirely subjective and personal. Some people have role models who are close family members. Some consider their role models to be firemen, teachers and doctors. Why do we insist that athletes are in fact role models to our children? Just because my kid’s favorite baseball player is Manny Ramirez and he wears Manny’s jersey, doesn’t mean that Manny is his role model. My kid doesn’t want to be like Manny nor do everything that Manny does.
If Manny is ever implicated in wrong doing, my kid will simply say “that’s really sad and unfortunate.” Regarding external forces that have an influence on my kids, athletes taking steroids or lying about taking steroids is not even remotely on my list of concerns, which includes among other things exposure to violence/sex on television, video games and surfing the internet.
In any event, I certainly don’t want judges deciding which criminal defendants they “deem” to be role models.
We are living in the dark ages right now, one in which the moral majority have altered the landscape of our country, making it easy for people to stand around accusing others of some failing or another, and lording over them when they fall. We have forgotten that “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones” and instead, continually chant for another beheading.
It’s bad enough that it happens in bars and over dinner tables. When judges start parroting sportswriter hyperbole, and people like the President himself –who knows little enough about the important stuff– and less than nothing about steroids and other PED’s, start thinking that they are the voices of reason; it makes me glad I live in the middle of nowhere.
It is a sad time for intellectual discourse.
UPDATE: David Pinto has some new stuff on the Clemens situation:
…. According to a source close to the trainer who says he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone, McNamee answered questions from the government and former Sen. George Mitchell’s office truthfully, but “he tried not to hurt Roger” in the process. Now that Clemens has sued him for defamation and has mounted a ferocious attack on McNamee, “stuff is pouring out of him.” According to Ward, “Brian knows a lot about Roger’s moral character and knows a lot about his extracurricular activities. … There’s a lot that he could say to damage Roger’s reputation, but we plan on taking the high road. … If some of this stuff were to come out, Roger Clemens would look very, very, very bad.”
Great. You can’t say CLemens didn’t bring this upong himself, what with the very personal attacks he’s made on McNamee. Nevertheless, what a sordid, unpleasant situation this is degenerating into. Roger Clemens has, indeed, found himself becoming the pitcher’s version of Bonds; arguably the greatest pitcher ever finding himself being roasted into ash by virtually everyone.