By BRENNAN PRUSAK
In a recent interview on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” former NBA all-star and current TV personality Charles Barkley admitted that he once played a game while drunk when he was the member of the Philadelphia 76ers.
The segment was full of laughs and was brushed off as a laughing matter. So, why are other athletes’ careers ruined due to the same actions, but the news media covers Charles Barkley’s story like it’s a joke?
The most recent instance of an athlete derailing his or her career due to substance abuse would be that of Josh Gordon. Gordon was a very talented receiver for the Cleveland Browns and burst onto the NFL scene in 2013 where he led the league in receiving yards in only his second year.
Unfortunately, Gordon had been struggling with addiction and found himself out of the league by 2015 due to their substance policy. Gordon was crucified by the news media, who dug to uncover all they could about his early life. Gordon decided to beat the press and tell all himself, sharing how his abuse went as far back as getting drunk before games in high school to simply see if he could outperform others even while intoxicated.
Luckily, Gordon has since attended rehab and been reinstated by the NFL, but it’s interesting that he was put under a microscope when he slipped up, but jolly Charles Barkley was able to laugh it off. It wasn’t even as if he simply got a little buzzed before the game, as he directly stated “I was blasted … I’m not gonna lie.”
I understand that Gordon had a serious problem, but it doesn’t mean that the same acts on a less serious scale shouldn’t be ridiculed. Barkley continued to mention that he had been drunk, or at least hungover, for games on numerous instances, so it seems unfair that he was met with laughter and not scrutiny. It seems like the news media start to play favorites when covering athletes and it is starting to come off as unprofessional.