NBA under fire
Actions, reinstatement of Latrell Sprewell hints at crumbling character
Some sports seem to be filled with upstanding athletes. Race-car driving, for example, is filled with well-mannered men who would never consider refusing a fan's request for an autograph.

Other sports are overshadowed by celebrities whose lives are in shambles. College and professional football are both associated with long lists of arrest warrants, drug use and violence, though some officials are trying to remedy the terrible reputations associated with their sports. Some NFL coaches are cracking down on players' behavior off the field.

Basketball, on the other hand, is a different story. From the "Bad as I wanna be" Rodmans to the "I am not a role model" Barkleys, basketball teams have few players with upstanding character.

Celebrities are role models. From movie stars to politicians, our notorious members of society set the example and create the trends the rest of society follows. If America wants to teach the next generation that certain actions are unacceptable, citizens should not tolerate those actions from celebrities. Sports stars are doing a disservice to the community when they demonstrate their lack of discipline.

Sports are competitive events, and tempers run high. It's not surprising to see a player shove an opponent around or vent his frustrations on a referee, but recently a more shocking account hit the news.

Last December, Latrell Sprewell, a player for the Golden State Warriors, wrapped his fingers around his own coach's neck in an attempt to choke him. Sprewell had to be forcibly pulled off the coach, but the player returned later in the day to again threaten his coach's life.

The public's sensibilities were not dulled enough to ignore this heinous act. Sprewell was heavily criticized. The Warriors ended Sprewell's three-year contract and the NBA suspended him for a year.

Unfortunately, arbitration ended the firm stance which authorities had taken against Sprewell.

Sprewell felt the penalties levied against him were too extreme for attempted premeditated murder, so he appealed the rulings. An arbitrator ruled the Golden State Warriors could not break their contract with Sprewell, and decided the NBA's one-year suspension was too harsh, shortening it to five months.

Despite any opinions about Sprewell's skills, a player who cannot control his anger toward someone on his own team should not be allowed on a basketball court.

The NBA must send a clear message that basketball is no place for murderous tendencies. Even if Sprewell was "stressed-out" or apologized profusely (which he did not), someone needs to speak up on behalf of the coaches. The coach was threatened, attacked and physically harmed by a player. Now the arbitrator says the Warriors have to keep Sprewell on the team unless they find some place to trade him. The arbitrator has failed to consider the coach. Hopefully no teams will insult their coaches by suggesting they accept Sprewell in a trade.

This event should not be forgotten too soon. Such miscarriages of justice often come back to haunt.

Last week in Paducah, Kentucky, an 18-year old high-school senior was charged with a misdemeanor for threatening the life of his basketball coach. Where do kids get these ideas?

Children cannot be expected to perform better than the examples they must follow. It's time for citizens to show that certain behavior is intolerable, only then can society expect improvements.

Dave Johnston is a senior mathematics major.