Thursday, February 5, 2009

'Sorry' Doesn't Begin to Cover It

"I'm sorry. I made a mistake. I know it was wrong, and I regret the embarrassment I've brought upon myself and my family."

Wouldn't it be great if we could break laws, or fly in the face of acceptable societal conduct, and not have to worry about any kind of punishment? Well, it seems that professional athletes -- not to mention Cabinet-level appointees, and other public figures -- have that "get-out-of-jail-free" card to play that the rest of us don't. And it's not right.

A few examples: Jason Giambi. An outed steroid user, he offers us a lame apology to Yankees fans -- without ever saying what it was he was apologizing for -- and he's lauded for being forthright. No one's talking about locking up Giambi for breaking laws regarding the use of illegal substances. Compare this to Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, pariahs of the sports world -- and rightfully so -- for failing to admit anything in the face of apparently overwhelming evidence that they used steroids. Moreover, if any of them are found to have broken laws (perjury, use of illegal substances), they should be penalized beyond being shut out of the sport, or kept out of the Hall of Fame (although there is something sweet about that). They should go to jail.

More recently, there's the case of Michael Phelps, caught on film inhaling from a bong (we can only assume the substance he was smoking was not tobacco). This behavior comes on the heels of a DWI arrest. Yet he's trying to play the "I'm sorry, I made a mistake" card. Well, it doesn't wash with me. One occurrence might be a mistake you can talk up to youthful experimentation. Two, and it's a lifestyle choice -- and a bad one, at that, for all the reasons we know. His apology might not be enough. Investigators are looking into whether or not any laws were broken, and if so, he could see jail time.

And if so, he should. There should not be two sets of rules in a society. If we common folk drive drunk, or use illegal substances, or fail to pay our taxes, or hit our spouses, we go to jail. We can't use the public apology as our penance. And neither should athletes, politicians, musicians or actors. What gives them the right? You're athletes.. what do you think? Comment below!