The Dark Side of Sports

Too much money, too little discipline

The guilty verdict in the trial of former NFL All-Pro Aaron Hernandez, to many, will be referenced as another example of “good guy gone bad” -- another example of the type of character traits that seem to define today’s professional athlete.

Though this overgeneralization is unwarranted, the Hernandez verdict – along with other examples of the “sports-figure-gone-bad” paradigm – reminds us of the travails that can often accompany money, fame and power.

Such pitfalls do not seem to follow any socio-economic pattern. For every case where poverty, or neighborhood influences, is cited as a causation for later misdeeds, we encounter several like Hernandez – a young man, who was raised in a tony Connecticut town by good parents and seemed to have it all.

Consider the likes of Rae Carruth – the former Carolina Panthers football player who was convicted of conspiring to murder a woman who was pregnant with his child. A  happy childhood in Sacramento, CA was the backdrop for Carruth’s ascendancy to fame and fortune. Once raking in $40,000 per game, Carruth now earns 40 cents per day as an inmate prison janitor.

Add in the sad tale of 1990s era quarterback Todd Marinovich, who was handed everything as a youth but was so pressured to perform that he became crushed under the pressure, seeking escape in a haze of drug-induced euphoria. And let’s not forget the most visible case of our lifetimes – the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, who many felt received an unjust second chance after being found not guilty of double murder, and then squandered his freedom by trying to forcefully reclaim the statues and vestiges that marked his happier times.

All is not lost for these souls, as God has offered the opportunity for forgiveness for those who believe, and repent. In fact, according to Proverbs 19:19, the loss of the fame and fortune, and the introspection that occurs inside the spare, bare walls of the prison cells, are a necessary step for the healing process to begin.

“Discipline your son while there is hope….and do not desire his death,” it is written. “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days…

” Proverbs 30:8-9 speak of the burden inherent with having too much – or too little – money, stating: “Keep deception and lies far from me….Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You.

” Though the road to forgiveness remains long, and outstretched, in front of Aaron Hernandez, his tale reminds us that with power and money, comes responsibility – and pressure.