|A pro locker room is a frat house|
By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist
I'm done getting upset every time a professional athlete gets pinched for misbehavior or something worse. And I'm done blasting TV shows that depict professional athletes in an unflattering light.
I'm snapping out of my denial.
You throw a bunch of 20- and 30-something men together, plop them in a locker-room setting, give 'em an ATM filled with $200 million, direct them to the nearest strip clubs, expose them to agents, groupies, lying coaches, conniving executives, headline-thirsty journalists and booty-kissing fans ... and we act surprised when the Portland Trail Blazers seem to be auditioning for an NBA version of "Playmakers."
It isn't surprising; it's inevitable.
So Zach Randolph gets cuffed for driving under the influence. Bonzi Wells gets traded for cussing out his coach. 'Ras-Weed' Wallace can't control his temper. And Damon Stoudamire chill-zizzles with an ounce or two of that West Coast funk, the stickee-ickee-ickee.
I mean, what? What did you expect? What did you think went on inside a frat house?
That's what a professional locker room is. It's a frat house. Omega Psi High. Any dogs in the house? Woof! Woof! Woof!
You have a bunch of young men with too much money, too much free time, too much testosterone, too little supervision and not enough Jesus. I don't want to paint with too broad a brush. Not every professional athlete wants to be "Animal House" legend Bluto. There are a significant number of straight arrows inside a locker room. Every frat, no matter how cool, has a subgroup of nerds.
But contrary to the naivete expressed by Boomer Esiason and Dan Marino on CBS's NFL show, the life Lawrence Taylor talked about on "60 Minutes" does exist. It isn't hidden.
At any big-school or small-school frat house, you can find damn near everything L.T. said about his NFL lifestyle. Young men with disposable cash rent strippers, get bent and brag about it to anyone who will listen.
I'm not making excuses for misbehaving professional athletes. But men or women in their 20s are not emotionally or mentally prepared to handle the wealth, the freedom, the fame or the power we hand to our athletic prodigies.
Don't you remember being young and dumb? Just imagine if someone handed you millions of dollars and access to wannabe supermodels when you were 22. You might just blow it. Even 50-year-old men lose their minds as hundred-thousandaires.
No one is surprised when a rock star, young or old, misbehaves. Lawrence Taylor sounded no different and no less believable than Steven Tyler or Jim Morrison.
I'm done getting defensive about the misdeeds of athletes. The fact that many of them are jackasses shouldn't stop us from appreciating their work. People still listen to Jimi Hendrix. No one wants to strip Hendrix of his status as a Rock-'n-Roll Hall of Famer.
And compared to L.T., Hendrix put the jack in ass.
Jason Whitlock is a columnist for the Kansas City Star (kcstar.com) and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of "The Sports Reporters." He also hosts an afternoon radio show, "The Doghouse," on Kansas City's 61 Sports KCSP. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.