Athletes should account for actions

By Doug Gorman

My job description as a sports writer used to be cut and dry. Sure, technology has changed the business. Word processors have replaced typewriters, and pages are no longer designed with the old-fashioned cut-and- paste method.

But at one time this job meant writing about home runs, touchdowns and slam dunks.

We left the hard news to those principled journalist, who like (Bob) Woodward and (Carl) Bernstein of Watergate fame, were always looking to undercover some huge scandal that was sure to rock the word.

Now, sports writers need a law dictionary and a nose for hard news too. You better throw in a direct phone line to the district attorney's office for good measure.

Phrases such as indictment, conviction and jail time have jumped off the front pages right into the sports sections.

Why the change?

There's an attitude running rampant through the world of sports that suggest "boys will be boys."

It's why society tends to overlook transgressions committed by an athlete.

If Joe Jock can throw, catch, score and run really fast, there seems to be a feeling that we as hero-worshippers can overlook a small drug bust, a domestic violence charge or DUI.

That's not to say all athletes are thugs. Many, and I would like to think most, are solid citizens.

It's always refreshing to see athletes taking time out to visit a school, help feed the hungry or just take time out to sign an autograph for an excited youngster who probably forgets to say thank you.

Atlanta Falcons' running back Warrick Dunn has formed a charitable organization that buys homes for single moms, Tom Glavine works with organizations that help prevent child abuse, and former Braves outfielder Dale Murphy went to work for his church after he retired. He also was known to never turn down an autograph request. I know this to be true since he made this baseball fan very happy one night years ago.

But again we have been reminded for every feel good story there is another case where the athlete is above the law.

When six Georgia athletes get busted in their dorm for smoking dope, or it's suggested that there might be a drug problem in major league baseball that's distressing.

It, however, shouldn't be surprising.

Accountability no longer seems to be an issue for some athletes.

Often they receive a slap on the wrist for their indiscretion and quickly return to the playing field to the loud cheers of adoring fans.

That's the sad part.

Athletes forget the whole world is watching, especially young people and they are likely to imitate the actions of their sports heroes.

On and off the field.

Gorman is the sports editor of the Daily.