With six Major League Baseball players convicted of DUI’s this year, it may be time for the League to take action
While Major League Baseball has worked to eliminate performance enhancing drugs in recent years, a new problem has surfaced. This year alone there have been six Major League Baseball players, including Miguel Cabrera, Coco Crisp, and Seattle Mariners infielder, Adam Kennedy, charged with DUI’s, but there has not been a single suspension. In the NBA, multiple suspensions have been given to players convicted of DUI’s, including one given to Carmelo Anthony to begin the 2008 season after he was convicted in the off-season. The NFL is not allowed to suspend players if they are convicted of a DUI because of the collective bargaining agreement, but after being convicted of a DUI last season, Braylon Edwards did not play even though he was allowed to suit up. In a poll on Northeast Sports Network, 80 percent of respondents were in favor of a stricter policy for players convicted of a DUI. While it is difficult to tell whether or not a DUI conviction leads to lower performance, Major League Baseball and its teams need to rethink the current system and the message it sends to the players.
The lack of punishment for baseball players convicted of a DUI is astounding. If for no other reason, punishing players for DUI’s is a good PR move. These players are public figures who serve as role models for young kids across the country. Teams and leagues need to send a message to the players to show them that this type of behavior is unacceptable.
This is a very tricky situation, however, as Major League Baseball cannot punish players for DUI’s unless the collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association is changed. As a Bellevue personal injury attorney, I am very strongly in favor of stricter legal punishments for DUI’s, but whether or not MLB should go above and beyond the law as it stands is a different question. As the players’ employers Major League Baseball teams may need to do something to save their public image, but when it comes down to it, drinking and driving is a matter of individual responsibility that falls on the shoulders of anyone who drives.
Although the reality of making changes to the collective bargaining agreement is much more difficult than simply writing about how I would change the current system; here is how I would punishments for DUI’s if I were the commissioner of Major League Baseball:
For first time offenders, I would suggest a fine and probation. The loss of endorsements, high priced lawyers, and lost pay due to court dates should be enough of a deterrent for future offenses. However, in cases where a repeat offender is convicted of a DUI, the league should absolutely suspend the player and require that he completes community service or some kind of substance abuse program. This program should include a series of visits by the player to local schools to talk to students and teach them about the dangers of driving drunk.
The potential consequences of drunk driving necessitate stricter penalties for both professional athletes and normal people who are convicted of a DUI. However, for the sake of the thousands of kids who view players as role models, Major League Baseball needs to ensure that there are stricter policies in place for players who are convicted of DUI to send a message both to the kids and the players that this type of behavior is unacceptable.