Thursday, February 4, 2010

No room for firearms in pro sports

Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress stated he plans to play in the NFL again. He has to say ‘again’ because he’s currently serving a two-year prison sentence for carrying an unlicensed, concealed weapon, with which he accidently shot himself in a nightclub.

Burress was also suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The punishment kept the commissioner’s reputation for enforcing strict conduct standards intact.

In the wake of Burress’ nonsense, Washington Wizard all-star Gilbert Arenas was recently suspended indefinitely by NBA commissioner David Stern for keeping guns in his locker and brandishing one at a teammate during a dispute. Arenas has since said he was joking when he pulled the gun on Javaris Crittenton, but Stern didn't buy it. It was also rumored Crittenton had a gun of his own in the locker room.

The most recent gun related incident in sports reported was Dallas Cowboy fullback Deon Anderson allegedly threatened a restaurant employee with a gun during a dispute.

Sadly, this type of thing is becoming the same old story. Example like the ones above, Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones' trouble with the law, Tank Johnson’s gun issues and many other misconduct stories have surfaced time and again.

It is commendable the way Goodell has taken a moral stance against illegal activity, but maybe it’s time for owners and general managers to do the same. Why not make conduct clauses in contracts?

There are many, many examples of incentive clauses in contracts – hit 20 home runs this year, make an extra $5,000. How about to deter criminal behavior, players earn a bonus if they go home immediately after a competition?

“Hey Plaxico. You can have an extra $500,000 this year if you don’t go to nightclubs.” Sounds like a sweet deal for everyone involved. With that extra half-a-million, Burress could turn his home into a nightclub, inviting people he trusts and eliminating the need to arm himself.

If teams don’t want behavior incentives, they should find some other deterrent before another unnecessary, tragic story engulfs the world of sports.

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