The Major Inconsistencies of America’s Biggest Sports Leagues.


Darin Martin, Sports editor

In recent years, professional sports leagues including the NBA and NFL have come under the spotlight for reasons other than the action on the field or court. The handling of the misconduct of the players and staff of these leagues outside of the game has slowly become more and more inconsistent. Suspensions and sanctions that have been handed out have routinely gotten more and more random as time has progressed. 

The NFL is the league that has come under the most scrutiny for its inconsistent decisions. The biggest incident was most notably in 2014, when Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was accused of assaulting his wife. At first, the league suspended him for two games, which was standard at the time. A second offense would have landed him a 6 game suspension. But then, a video released of Rice punching and knocking out his wife in an elevator, and the NFL responded by suspending him indefinitely. While this may have been the right thing to do,  It started a long line of inconsistency when it came to the length of suspensions compared to the offense committed. 

The latest example being Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins who was suspended for six games due to a failed drug test. Deshaun Watson, who was accused of sexual misconduct by over 20 women, was also originally handed a six game suspension. The suspension was subsequently increased to eleven games and Watson was handed a $5 million fine after an appeal and after backlash from the public.

Another notable example was when Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley was given a year long suspension for betting on games. The NFL released a statement saying “There is nothing more fundamental to the NFL’s success – and to the reputation of everyone associated with our league – than upholding the integrity of the game. This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league.”  However, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who was accused of trying to lure Tom Brady and Sean Payton to the Dolphins while still under contract with their respective teams, only received a suspension until mid October and a $1.5 million fine. If the NFL is concerned with “upholding the integrity of the game” then one would think these two incidents would have resulted in similar or equal suspension lengths.  

The NBA has also come under scrutiny recently after the league announced that it would only be suspending Phoenix Suns and Mercury Owner Robert Sarver for only a season, despite the fact Sarver was found to be making sexist and racist remarks towards his employees. This decision was especially baffling when you look at the NBA’s own historic standards. The most comparable incident was when former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was forced to sell the team after being caught making racist remarks towards his black players and staff. On top of reportedly telling his then girlfriend, who was herself a mix of Black and Mexican ethnicity, that she couldn’t take pictures or be caught interacting with any Black people during games. The NBA responded by suspending him indefinitely and forcing him to sell the Clippers franchise. So after previously handling an incident like that so well, one should wonder why they let Sarver off so easily this time. 

The NFL and NBA have both come under scrutiny for “trying to appeal to the social and political trends at the time” and not by a set league policy that should be in place. The sanctions handed out by these leagues have become more and more random as time goes on and the fact that commissioner Adam Silver and Roger Goodell are seemingly not bothered by this trend is worrying.