Happy Friday everyone. This week we look at the mounting evidence against hat size record holder, Barry Bonds, and his trial for perjury, as well as the increasing influence high school recruiting advisors/handlers/agents are having on the game. We finish this week off with the omnipresent news of Michael Phelps getting his picture taken smoking something from a marijuana bong.
Report: Retested Bonds sample positive
The infamous home run hero has tested positive for at least three kinds of steroids and an amphetamine. The government has retested urine samples taken back in 2003, and in using techniques not previously available, has determined that Bonds was using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) while playing and setting all kinds of records.
A judge is currently considering whether or not the positive results will be admissible during the trial due to the procedure used to acquire the samples. Bonds’ attorneys are claiming that the samples were mishandled and contaminated, and therefore, the jury should not consider the results.
Although the judge has admitted leaning towards prohibiting the use of the results, she has indicated that other documents and, more importantly, a recorded conversation between Bonds’ trainer, Greg Anderson, and an estranged friend of Bonds, Steve Hoskins are will be admissible. The conversation was recorded by Hoskins to prove to Bonds’ father, Bobby Bonds, that he was using steroids.
Though the reason behind the case is to determine whether or not Bonds perjured himself during federal testimony when he claimed he never knowingly used steroids; for many it has to do with the fact that Bonds was using steroids at all, knowingly or unknowingly. Do I care if he does any jail time? No, not at all. Actually, I would prefer it if he didn’t (saves tax dollars and prison space), but I would like to see him shamed out of the Hall of Fame and for him to lose all of his records. It has been well-documented that he cares more about his records and stats than anything else in the game, and losing all of that after risking so much would be the best punishment for him.
We’ll continue to monitor the situation and see how the courts and more importantly Major League Baseball react.
College Recruiting’s Thin Gray Line
This story is an important one to read because of the growing trend of high school recruiting advisors. For anyone not in the ESPN’s Top 150, you know the suspect nature of college recruiting, and this goes for all sports. College coaches just don’t have the time or resources to see every player in the country and decide which ones will be good for their programs. Inevitably, the responsibility falls on the influence that websites like Scouts and Rivals have to determine who the top players in the country are. The coaches then court those players and try and persuade them to come to their school, but those rankings are questioned as much as the college football rankings and it leaves skilled players all over the country without a chance of being scouted. This is where Brian Butler and other high school recruiting advisors come in. They attempt to connect the dots for the thousands of players who were not hyped and heavily recruited.
Though I see this as a positive position in the game, as long as that is where it ends, players must be extremely careful whose hands they leave their careers in. Although Bryce Brown has been heavily recruited, it is due to his talent and hype created by the traditional channels and not so much because of Butler’s doing. (In fact, Butler claims to have connections to the University of Miami, but not a single player on Miami’s 2009 Top 10 recruiting class is from Kansas.) The article goes on to interview several players who bought into his concept, but never saw the results he promised. High school athletes need to be especially careful because the actions that third parties take can have an detrimental affect on a player’s amateur status and eligibility to play in college. Butler admitted to considering shipping Brown out of the country and playing professionally in Canada. Although there hasn’t been any confirmation of those offers (especially since the salary Butler claims Brown could be offered is $800,000 over a team’s salary cap in the CFL), this could be considered a violation of NCAA Bylaws 12.3.1 and 18.104.22.168 (listed below) if Butler is viewed as an agent negotiating on Brown's behalf for a prospective professional contract, and the end result could be the NCAA declaring Brown ineligible.
12.3.1 General Rule. An individual shall be ineligible for participation in an intercollegiate sport if he or she ever has agreed (orally or in writing) to be represented by an agent for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation in that sport. Further, an agency contract not specifically limited in writing to a sport or particular sports shall be deemed applicable to all sports, and the individual shall be ineligible to participate in any sport.
22.214.171.124 Representation for Future Negotiations. An individual shall be ineligible per Bylaw 12.3.1 if he or she enters into a verbal or written agreement with an agent for representation in future professional sports negotiations that are to take place after the individual has completed his or her eligibility in that sport.
All athletes need to consider who is running their careers and ultimately what is in their best interest. Engaging a recruiting advisor, if done correctly and ethically, can be a great resource not only for the athlete but for the college teams as well. They enable coaches to see players that they would never have known about through traditional recruiting techniques. However, it can be very dangerous and can cause serious backlashes for players and universities.
Phelps suspended for three months
The importance for star athletes to be responsible adults has never been more crucial for their brand and their wallets. The use of the internet as an information resource tool has forced athletes and their representation to put themselves in better situations and stay out of bad ones. A single picture can be spread all over the world in just a couple minutes and reach millions of people. This has a huge effect on the athlete in multiple ways. For Phelps, he is now suspended from the U.S. Swim Team, he will lose sponsorship money, and ultimately he will lose the respect of many fans.
Modern technology means that countless people have access to a camera, be it on a cell phone or a small digital camera, and can become a paparazzi for a day. This is all the more reason that players need to watch who they hang out with and what they do, especially in public. Websites like BadJocks.com and Deadspin.com are out there just to find incriminating information on athletes and spread it to the world. This can hurt a player’s playing time and eligibility, his reputation, his freedom (jail time), and ultimately is ability to generate revenue for himself.
If Phelps just stepped back and thought for a second how dumb of a mistake he was about to make, he could have saved himself a lot of explaining. He, a celebrity and Olympic record holder, walks into a college house party, where there is always some form of underage drinking and two or three people taking pictures and tagging them on Facebook, and decides to have a good time. Fine, no one is telling you to stay inside your house and watch Jeopardy all night. But then he decides he is going to partake in an act of illegal drug use. Phelps is lucky that all that was taken was a picture of him smoking from the bong. Based on the picture, he could have been smoking tobacco which is perfectly legal, marijuana, or not anything at all and just having fun with a pose. There could have been video of him packing the bong or making out with an underage girl, who knows, which is an even stronger reason to make sure you put yourself in good positions.
But, what’s done is done and he did the right thing by immediately admitting the mistake and apologizing. Now everyone can move on. If he denied it, the whole thing would have been dragged on and on and he would have lost more respect and money than he has already, Exhibits A and B: Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.
As always, this blog column is for you guys so any comments, questions or concerns, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and enjoy this weekend's games!