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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Drunk Driving: A New Sport

    Sports figures have become defined by many things in this modern age: exorbitant contracts, international expansion, self-centered attitudes, and a general demeanor of athletes that has prompted delegation of the title, “the good ol’ days,” to the previous sports era. A far more sinister trend is occurring in today’s sports world – a growing number of drunken driving incidents, and nobody cares.

    Athletes from across the sports spectrum have been involved in an alarming number of DUIs and the results are getting more and more gruesome. Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Donte Stallworth is facing charges of DUI manslaughter after he struck and killed a pedestrian after returning from a party in Miami on Mar. 14. The question the Browns are asking: will Stallworth be able to play for them this season?

    This is a serious situation where someone has died, which makes one wonder at the tame reaction of the franchise — the Browns aren’t alone in taking a pass at a chance to make a statement against athletes drunk driving.

    Joba Chamberlain, star Yankees’ pitcher, was arrested Oct. 18, 2008, on DUI charges. Two days later Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner told the Daily News he would welcome Chamberlain back with open arms. Steinbrenner went on to say, “It happens, everybody deserves a second chance — or even a third chance.” Hopefully Chamberlain won’t kill anyone on his subsequent chances. It would make Steinbrenner’s firm stance all for not.

    The teams don’t take all the blame for this lack of an outcry against athletes drunk driving. The news media has failed to take these athletes and franchises that stand behind them to task for their dangerous actions. In the case of Chamberlain, the video of his DUI arrest has gotten far more attention than the actual reason for his arrest. On it he calls New Yorkers rude and Yankee legend Yogi Berra short. No comment from Steinbrenner on whether that mistake still counts as his first.

    Instead of being treated as something at least dangerous and at most deadly, athletes drunk driving is treated as an embarrassing mistake that requires an immediate apology and an even more immediate brush under the rug. For example, St. Louis Cardinal manager Tony La Russa’s DUI arrest after he was found asleep at the wheel of his vehicle on Mar. 22, 2007, where La Russa apologized, the Cardinal organization stood behind him and no one spoke of it after that.

    What you have heard and will continue to hear is how Nick Adenhart, a 22-year-old Anaheim Angels pitcher, was killed Apr. 9 after a hit-and-run car crash. A minivan, driven by an alleged drunken driver, ran a red light and killed Adenhart and three others. You will hear about the alleged drunk driver, Andrew Gallo, 22, whose trial will be well documented and you will hear about the Angels continuing their season in the midst of this tragedy.

    In this instance it is the athlete who is the victim of the drunk driver. Perhaps the outpour of grief for this person of notorieties’ death might trigger a somber reminder of those who were and were not hurt by the countless number of athletes convicted of DUI’s.

    La Russa and Chamberlain each received probation and community service for their DUI convictions and it is unknown what type of punishment Stallworth will receive. A fitting penalty for these athletes would be a public flogging at the hands of the same press that glorifies their successes and a stricter set of punishments by the franchises that employ theses players.

    Since the start of April three more athletes have been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving: Los Angeles Clipper Zach Randolph on Apr. 6, Cincinnati Bengals’ cornerback Leon Hall and Florida State Seminoles wide out Rod Owens, both on Apr. 5.

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