The Double Standard: Athletes/Celebrities vs. Everyone Else

When it comes to drugs and alcohol, it’s a topic that usually strikes controversy and can hit a little too close to home for many. It’s an unfortunate and sometimes difficult topic to discuss, but given the recent suspension in the NFL, it’s topic that can’t be ignored.

Let’s start and state the obvious, those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol shouldn’t be shamed for their addiction; it’s a disease. However, there are millions of people who deal with this disease and are still expected to get up every day and survive. Most (those who work) don’t get second or third chances with their employers when they get caught up with this vice. If they chose not to go to work or violate their employer’s drug/alcohol policy, they’re fired.

This is all common sense and probably redundant for many, but for the purpose of this piece, it’s important to remind everyone how “real life” works.

Professional athletes and other celebrities are given numerous chances that the “average joe” would never get. They are given fines and slaps on the wrists for crimes (and addictions) that others would be in prison for. Instead of being looked down upon, athletes are almost looked at as sympathetic figures through the eyes of the media for their “addiction” or “vices”.  Is anybody else noticing a double standard taking place here?

The latest example of a player given multiple opportunities to put his life in order is Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon was just suspended for a year by the NFL for violating the terms of his probation and testing positive for alcohol use; this is his 5th offense (college + pro) since 2010.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear that this isn’t just about Josh Gordon; there are plenty of other athletes that have been given multiple chances to get their life on track and didn’t take advantage of it. I’m using Gordon as an example because he’s the most recent offender.

Below is a list of Gordon’s incidents involving drugs and alcohol.

College:

1)      Gordon was first suspended from Baylor in 2010 for being found asleep in a car (which he friend was driving) where police found marijuana.

2)      In 2011, Gordon was suspended indefinitely by head coach Art Briles, for failing a drug test and testing positive for marijuana.  

Pro:

He was drafted in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft by the Cleveland Browns.

3)    On June 7, 2013, he was suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.  

4)    On August 27, 2014, the NFL suspended him for one year for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy (sounding redundant yet?)

5)      On February 3rd 2015 Gordon was suspended for a year due to testing positive for alcohol use.

Gordon is the latest example of an athlete that has been given multiple (5) chances to clean up his act and has yet to do so. The sad part is, rather than calling him out for making dumb choices; former professional athletes are coming to his defense. Cris Carter (Hall-of-Fame Wide Receiver) who’s an NFL analyst for ESPN, has defended Gordon publicly multiple times stating that the NFL should step in and help Gordon with his addiction(s); and that the Cleveland Browns shouldn’t give up on him.

First off, why the hell should the NFL have to babysit a player that they’re paying to do a job? Last time I checked, Gordon is an adult who is aware of the concept of right and wrong. Secondly, how many chances does somebody deserve, especially when they keep making the same choice over and over again? The guy’s been given 5 chances, 3 in the NFL alone.  Again, I come back to my opening premise; that athletes and other types of “celebrities” are given civil liberties that aren’t granted to everyone else. What makes it even more egregious is that they commit the same crime continuously, get suspended and then reinstated into their respective league and act as if they’ve done nothing wrong. They’re coddled all their lives and because of that, believe that they’re entitled to act any way they so choose.

It’s frustrating to watch professional athletes waste their talent because they can’t seem to get their heads out of their asses. They’re blessed individuals who are given an opportunity to do what they love for a living, and they’re pissing it away as if it’s something that’s owed to them.

As a sports fan, it angers me to see athletes throw away these opportunities; there are so many who dream to be where they are, and yet they act as if it’s common place. This isn’t a topic that’s fun or even entertaining to talk about, but it is something that needs to be discussed and taken much more seriously than it actually is.

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