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Accountability for bad behavior is a must

My boss, Jason, recently got me hooked on fantasy sports, something in which I never used to participate. It wasn't that I had anything against the idea, just that I never had the opportunity. That is unless you count the yearly March Madness picks.

I usually make it a habit to avoid professional sports (and I've said this before) because of the multi-millionaires griping about how they can't feed their family on the riches they take home to play a sport for a living.

But after being talked into drafting a fantasy NBA team this season, I've had to pay attention to who is doing what in professional basketball. For the most part, it's been fun finding out where all the guys I watched in college ended up.

What hasn't been fun is finding out that the egos of several of those players have exploded in recent years. Let's be clear, anyone who thinks that highly of himself will never be my hero.

The one thing that shocked me, though, after my recent return to the world of the NBA is the league's drug policy. They are tough as nails when it comes to cocaine, meth, PCP and the like. A player got caught this week with drugs for the first time, and he was out.

However, when it comes to performance enhancing drugs, their tune is a little different. Actually, the policy reminds me of the one in place for baseball. Players in the NBA have to be caught four times using performance enhancers before being ousted from the league.

Four times? Way to stand firm. That's a "no tolerance" policy if I've ever seen one.

Face it. No player is going to get caught that many times. The league is turning a blind eye to steroids, and that is ridiculous.

Traditionally, steroids haven't been much of a problem in basketball. But as the league focuses more on the bang-it-down post players and less on the speedy jump shooters and slashers, strength and muscle tone take on a greater importance.

I just hope once they rule against somebody, they stick with it. I remember years ago hearing about a baseball player who had been banned from the game for life, for the seventh time. Who let him back in after the first time he was banned for life, much less after the fifth and sixth time?

Basketball typically takes a harder line than that. After Kobe Bryant's rape trial, and Ron Artest's assent into the stands to beat up a fan, the league has tried to tighten the leash a bit. But if we continue to fuel these athletes' delusions that they are gods, it will never end.

It really is sad for the players though. If they continue to think they can get away with whatever they want because of who they are, they will have nothing but a pitiful lonely life, money and fame or not.

Web posted on Thursday, February 2, 2006

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