Get High on Life

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 23, 1998

By Harold Keller / L’Observateur / November 23, 1998

A few weeks ago, I was speaking at a school and I asked one of the students in the assembly if he participated in sports. “Yeah,” he answered.”It’s not yeah,” I said, with authority. “It’s yes sir, when you speak tome.” (I then explained that being polite made him look better, not me.)”What sport?” I asked. “Football,” he answered. I continued, “Whatposition do you play?” “Defensive lineman,” he replied. “Are you anygood?” I questioned. With a smile, he said, “I’m pretty good.” The headfootball coach was in attendance and said, “Mr. Keller, he is good.”He was a handsome young man and I later found out that he weighed 270 pounds, had good speed for his size, and will be given a college scholarship because of his athletic ability.

“Do you make good grades?” I asked. “Fair,” he said, with an attitude, Idiscerned, as just doing enough to get by. “I can guarantee you one thing,”I assured him. “If you are good enough, you’ll never flunk out of college.”I then explained that I couldn’t recall the last time I heard of a good college athlete in football, basketball, baseball, or any sport, flunking out of school.

Another thing I told the young man was that he could also break the law as long as he’s productive on the field. History shows that good athletes getaway with most criminal activity, with exception to rape or murder.

Case in point: This week, New Orleans Saints defensive tackle, Julian Pittman, was set free by a judge in Florida. Headlines read: “Saints’Pittman escapes jail time.” The story stated that the judge declined tofollow the state-recommended guidelines for a minimum 2-year sentence in prison. The Saints front office personnel begged the judge to havemercy on Pittman. Pittman told the judge that he was scared and wantedto go back to his family. (His family is not his mother, father, wife, orchildren, but a girlfriend, who is seven months pregnant.) The judge,before ruling to set Pittman free, said, “There should be a lot more contrition on your part, far more than I see.” The judge then told Pittman,”I wish you could hear yourself…There’s a lot of denial in what you’resaying.”In today’s society, Pittman doesn’t have to be sorry. He’s a little god. He’sa role model for our kids. In fact, Sunday, if he plays against San Franciscoand recovers a fumble and returns it for a touchdown to beat the 49ers, he will be given the key to the city. As long as he can produce, society willoverlook any action off the field.

When his playing days are over, things will be different. He won’t get thesame special treatment. Just ask former LSU player, Greg Hill. He alsomade the news the same day Pittman did. The big difference is that hisstory was a small paragraph on the bottom of the last page of the Sports section. Greg Hill also violated his probation, but he got four years inprison.

The moral of this article is that if you are a productive athlete, you’re above the law. When you fail to produce, you’re like a throwaway rug – notmuch use in a sick society.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

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