The Collegian
Tuesday, September 29, 2020

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Arenas one of many causing commotion off the court

It seems as if more and more athletes and superstar personalities have been caught up in incidents involving guns, violence or sexual deviancies. Gilbert Arenas is this trend's latest victim.

Last Friday, Arenas pleaded guilty to felony charges of carrying a pistol without a license when he crafted a practical joke against one of his Wizards teammates. The controversy surrounding Arenas' actions has been going on for weeks now. A number of questions have been asked about the future of this star player's career, whether Arenas or Javaris Crittenton is more to blame, to what extent the NBA should reprimand the perpetrator, and the list goes on.

This incident has come almost too soon after former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress ran into his own trouble with an unregistered firearm. The NFL and the state of New York came down hard on Burress, who is now serving a two-year jail sentence.

Both the Burress and Arenas cases deal with possession of unregistered guns and star athletes with criticized attitudes. Burress had some run-ins with coaches, missed practices and, at times, came off as a little bit too cocky. Arenas has the reputation of a league jokester and recently has been perceived as someone who has a lackadaisical attitude toward the implications of his actions.

There are, of course, clear differences in the cases that make it an imperfect comparison. One notable difference was that Arenas' gun never released a bullet, nor was it even loaded. He was smart enough to unload his weapons to prevent an accident similar to that of Burress shooting himself in the leg.

Even with the differences one would think that after the Burress case athletes would exercise caution when pulling out their flashy weapons. Instead, there are still stories about athletes possessing unregistered guns, not following league policies and being a little bit too conspicuous with their gun use. To make things even simpler it may be wise for athletes to take the Burress case and think twice before taking guns out of drawers or engaging in other actions that would attract undesirable press coverage.

Tiger Woods, although not guilty of gun possession, is another reasonable illustration of an athlete getting himself into trouble. Woods now finds himself in a whirlwind of a mess that boils down to him not being careful enough in concealing his multitude of sexual affairs. One slip-up allowed the world to know about his personal life.

If you are going to commit adultery, that is your own personal business. If you are a global superstar who portrays himself as someone of high morality and standards, then people are bound to pry until they find your faults. Woods was not careful enough and now appears to be free falling into the abyss.

Similar to Woods, Arenas and Crittenton did not get the appropriate conduct memo. Personally, I laughed when I first heard about the incident. It is clever. Arenas placed four unloaded guns in front of Crittenton's locker with a sign that read "Pick 1" after the two had an argument about a card game during the team's trip from Phoenix on Dec. 19. This is where my amusement ends. Things then went too far when Crittenton proceeded to pull out a gun he had in the locker room and allegedly pointed it in Arenas' direction.

Was Arenas clever? Yes. Smart? Definitely not. These athletes know there are policies against carrying firearms while on team property and it should never be deemed acceptable to actually point a gun in the direction of a teammate. Talk about unsportsmanlike conduct.

But Arenas did not stop there, which was most likely a bigger mistake than having the guns in the first place. His jokester personality got him in more trouble when he tweeted about the incident and then came out on court making shooting gestures with his hands. Again, not so smart.

If Arenas had sincerely apologized from the get-go and kept a low profile things might seem a bit brighter for his future. Arenas will await his fate until March when his sentence is supposed to be heard in court. His future in the NBA is in high jeopardy, reputation tarnished, sponsorship deals are dwindling and he faces potential jail time. Was the practical joke worth it?

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The same question can be asked of any controversial incident involving athletes. Before pulling out the weapon, throwing a punch or having a multitude of sexual partners it would be wise to consider a list of pros and cons. What did Arenas gain from all this? More importantly, what is he losing? If the cons outweigh the pros then don't do it. It is a phrase that is simple to say, but as has been clearly observed across professional sports, not so easy to follow.

Contact staff writer Jessie Murray at jessie.murray@richmond.edu

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