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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Athletes held to different standard when it comes to drunk driving

Sports figures, like any celebrities in the country, get away with crimes in a manner no commoner could.

This wrist-slapping in place of actual justice has grown to be a part of the cycle, with any wealthy and worshiped individual having the ability to get off scott free.

With the nation collectively turning a blind eye whenever their star fails to meet the standards of the law, some easily-avoidable, deadly and terribly selfish crimes have become in the eyes of some – acceptable. One in particular would be driving while intoxicated.

According to the CDC, every 48 minutes-the game clock of an NBA basketball game-a person is killed by a drunk driver.

In 2010, over 10,000 people lost their lives at the hands of alcohol-impaired driving.

This includes drivers, passengers and pedestrians who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Oh, and 211 children under the age of 14. Not to mention the many injuries inflicted that did not result in deaths.

This deadly a crime would come off as one fueled by pure evil intent, however at first glance it’s a product of laziness.

Considering hailing a cab, calling a friend or taking the bus are ridiculously easy options to avoid getting behind the wheel intoxicated, but instead some disregard the effects of alcohol on motor skills and drive anyway, which is more than just laziness. It is purposeful negligence.

According to the University of Texas at San Antonio Police Department, judgment is the first mental process to dissipate as an effect of alcohol.

Driving drunk “impairs the driver’s ability to ‘interpret’ situations” as well as their “ability to coordinate motor skills” and “ability to judge distance and depth perception” among other damaging ramifications.

So, being one of the more selfish, avertible and harmful crimes, it would be logical to have anybody-including sports stars-be given the appropriate penance for their crimes. This is not the case.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd was charged with a DWI a year and a half ago after crashing his car into a tree.

As a result, he was suspended for a whole two games. Major League Baseball athletes have it even easier. “In contrast to their progress on the PED front, baseball has done nothing to penalize far more dangerous and destructive behaviors such as driving under the influence of alcohol,” Jay Jaffe of “Sports Illustrated” said in a story entitled “20 ways to improve baseball right now.”

“The league may be content to let law enforcement handle such offenses, but it could have far more impact if it took additional action in such cases by suspending guilty players without pay for similar lengths of time as PED violators, and donating their salaries to programs oriented towards awareness, treatment and prevention.”

It’s not just a problem in professional sports, either. In fact, Stony Brook baseball’s own G.C. Yerry plead guilty to a DUI charge in September 2012.

He went on to play six games that season, with Stony Brook Athletics unable to comment on their actions in regards to Yerry’s conviction.

When asked about regulations in regards to drunk driving charges, the NCAA responded by saying “that is something that is handled at the institutional level.”

But this is not about the failures of individual institutions or giant corporations, but the public’s view of these acts.

As a society that deifies the athletically gifted, effectively bastardizing the efforts of those looking to rid the nation of a needless crime that takes lives every hour in the day, how can change be expected?

While we soak in the excitement of home runs and touchdowns, perhaps it is time to take note of the personal fouls as well.

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