The word entitlement has good amount of meaning in today’s society, and the definition fits the discussion when it comes to sports as well. The term signifies a sense of righteousness and privilege, especially when it comes to money and talent. This is not an instance of people looking for handouts, as so eloquently defined by those discussing government assistance. This is a discussion revolving around consequences and lack of consequences for those that have a large financial component tied to them.
Let’s begin with the recent suspension of FSU quarterback and pitcher Jameis Winston. You may think that his recent suspension has something to do with an accused sexual assault that was never actually investigated, or apparently taken seriously by authorities in Tallahassee or FSU. That is not the case. The suspension revolves around Winston stealing crab legs from a local Publix. I have already heard that this can be a learning experience; that it is due to immaturity and other excuses. Winston has stated that he takes responsibility, but did not realize he left without paying for them. I honestly don’t even know if that is true or not, even though it sounds absurd.
This is where the concept of entitlement comes in. When a person does something wrong, and there are excuses made without or with minimal consequences, then the behavior is reinforced. It ultimately becomes a behavioral issue that over time becomes more difficult to address and change, especially if someone is generating millions of dollars to a university. Discussions begin about where he may be drafted, instead of addressing the fact that this is a person who has multiple legal or moral questions about his character and judgment. He is still a young man and can make significant changes. Unfortunately, not having anyone address these behaviors properly make this more difficult over time.
Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA's Clippers finally received some modicum of consequence for his statements and actions recently, at age 81. From all indications, his racially poor behaviors have been going on for many years, although nobody was able or willing to step in. I don’t know Mr. Sterling or those around him. I do know that he has been sued many times for how he reportedly treats people in his housing and talks about minorities, settling many of these instances out of court.
Mr. Sterling is a billionaire, which brings with it many people that will tolerate such behavior in order to be near or receive some of that money. Immediate defenses of his statements go towards free speech, blaming his girlfriend for setting him up, or pointing out that the players continue to cash checks from him. These are all smoke screens that allow the person in question off the hook, and continue to fuel that entitlement. The commissioner of the NBA upheld some accountability with his lifetime ban, but that does not stop the apologists who do not want to focus on the negative behaviors, usually for a variety of reasons.
Entitlement has a place in everyday life as well, not resigned to sports or money. Those two areas draw more of it, along with more attention, but usually less action, unless the money dissipates or the performance deteriorates. We do have rights, however there is a line between recognizing that, abusing it, and taking responsibility for our own actions. People should be able to earn some special privileges through hard work and treating others well. That does not mean there should not be consequences to statements and actions. Setting boundaries is an appropriate way to do that, along with sticking to those boundaries. When you do that it shows that you actually care about the person, and aren’t just looking to gain something from them.