Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins

It has now come out that Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins were suspended because they were caught in a car with a bottle of cognac and a bottle of vodka, and there are reports that a bag of weed was found near where they were stopped by UConn police (Wiggins also received a summons for driving with a suspended license).

Now I understand why Calhoun has suspended them and I actually agree with the decision. Anytime a player has a run-in with the law, they should be punished accordingly. The weed is one thing. They have been drugged tested, with results to be released Wednesday, but if they pass that (which hopefully they will), then I don't see how you can reprimand them for it. We're talking about the campus of a large state school, where you can't walk 100 feet without being in the viscinity of weed.

But the alcohol is another issue entirely. Before anyone goes and jumps down their throats for possessing booze while underage, go back and think about what you did in college. 99% of underage college kids drink - that's just the culture of an american college campus. Maybe I'm being optimistic, but I believe that they bought that booze for when they returned from the road trip to Indiana. And if they wanted to come home from the trip and drink with their friends, is it really that big of a deal?

Yes, they are dumb. When you have so much riding on basketball (scholarship, potential pro career), it is not worth it to risk getting caught, damaging you reputation, and missing games, the medium through which a player proves his pro potential. Let's be realistic for a minute. When you are a star on the basketball team at a school like UConn, there are going to be plenty of people who would be willing to bring you whatever you wanted in exchange for friendship - being "cool by association".

Now, Wiggins as already been suspended this year for failing a drug test (the student athlete handbook at UConn says that for a first failed drug test, you are automatically suspended for 30 days from practicing/playing with your team, a punishment which Wiggins served in October. Second offense is 60 days, and the third offense is the remainder of that academic year.) If Wiggins fails this drug test, he is probably done for the season, and possibly will never play for the Huskies again. And given the rumor that he is a HUGE pothead doesn't help his cause.

Critics are always complaining the big time D1 athletes are not true STUDENT-athletes, but when they make the mistakes every college student makes, they get harsh punishments and blasted in the media. And its not just these UConn guys, it happens to players all over the country in every sport. Athletes are held to a higher standard because they are the face of their universities. Sometimes I feel bad for these guys, because they are, in fact, kids. 20 year olds. Just because some one is really good at putting a ball in a hole doesn't mean they are more mature than the kid that plays X-box all day and drinks all night. All I'm saying is cut athletes some slack. They're kids, doing what kids do at college. I agree there needs to be some sort of comeuppance, but let's not blow all of this out of proporation.

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