Sunday, November 14, 2010

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Normally at this time of year I'm complaining about the lack of a championship in college football and the ridiculousness of the BCS and all the meaningless bowl games. I'm still hopeful that I will see a college football playoff in a few years but what's really got me pissed off is the whole Cam Newton affair. Yes, I'm biased. My husband went to Auburn, his family lives there, he has a relative who is a professor and we frequently visit. But my problem with this situation is more about the way the media is handling all the accusations against the quarterback and not the team that he plays for.

Cam Newton and his family are accused of asking for and taking money from Auburn University in exchange for him playing football there. There is no physical evidence of this. There are several people who talked to other people who claim to know someone who heard the Newton's ask for money. There is no paper trail. There was no sudden shift in the Newton's lifestyle when Cam transferred to Auburn. Despite the lack of evidence, people are saying that Newton should be suspended. That he doesn't deserve the Heisman trophy. That he is a disgrace to college football and another Reggie Bush-type player only looking out for himself on his way to the NFL.

It seems like anyone can accuse any famous person of being guilty of breaking the rules without evidence. The media obsesses over these stories because we are so hungry to see our celebrities fail. Because in this age of reality TV we are more concerned with who Snooki hooked up with on The Jersey Shore than the recession.

Maybe Cam Newton is guilty. Maybe in a few years there will be physical evidence to back up all the accusations. Maybe Auburn will have to forfeit the wins that they earned while he was a starter and he will have to return his Heisman trophy (a la USC and Reggie Bush). But unless we have a crystal ball we cannot punish someone for something that may prove to be true.

How many athletes have been accused of being some baby's daddy only to find out a few months later it wasn't true. When the athlete was accused it's front page news but if they're proven innocent it's hidden on the back cover. I know plenty of college athletes take money. I know lots of famous people break that law and get away with it because they're famous. I also know that the bad ones get a lot more press than the good ones and that we can't punish an seemingly nice kid until there is evidence that proves that he deserves it.

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