As sports fans these days, it seems we’re subjected to an endless barrage of sex scandals. Ben Roethlisberger, Tiger Woods, Rick Pitino, Greg Oden, Steve Phillips, Kobe Bryant, Mike Tyson, the Minnesota Vikings… the list goes on and on. It’s getting to the point where we can no longer pick up a newspaper without seeing a photo of an athlete doing something he shouldn’t.
I understand that the high-profile athlete is subjected to more temptation than the average, hormonal male. They’re wealthier, better looking, more successful, more recognizable and have a lot more to lose.
As if common sense wasn’t enough to steer someone out of such situations, every professional sports league coaches its athletes about the pitfalls that accompany newly found fame. Women, drugs, alcohol, media and poorly-selected posses comprise a long list of haters waiting for a single slip-up before they leave your carefully crafted image forever tainted.
Ben Roethlisberger is the latest to put himself in this position as another female has accused him of sexual assault, the second to do so within a year. As it turns out, photos were taken of Ben the night in question. The investigation is ongoing.
Whether innocent or guilty, Roethlisberger has already been judged in the court of public opinion. But these latest pictures of Ben raise a series of questions.
The first that comes to mind is why does he continue to put himself in these situations? Like Matt Leinart, Michael Phelps and Larry Eustachy before him, someone captured images of Ben he wishes were never made public.
But beyond that, where did these pictures come from? Who took them? Was it a friend of Ben’s, a friend of the girl’s, a passerby or does TMZ just employ a fleet of picture-snapping, party-going, saboteurs assigned to do nothing but photograph celebrities in compromising positions? Who ultimately decided to sell these pictures to TMZ and were they at all conflicted about doing so? How much did they get paid and did they buy themselves something nice?
Did this person invade Roethlisberger’s privacy or was he within his rights to snap these photos? Heck, Big Ben posed for the pictures. It looks like he was having a good time. Does the person who took them boast about the night he hung out with the Super Bowl winning quarterback? Is he now ostracized as a rat? And how badly does Ben want to kick this person’s ass?
If you were out one night, spotted a high-profile athlete doing something foolish and were in the unique position to take a picture of it, would you? Or would you respect his privacy and move on? If you did take the pictures, would you sell them? Would you feel good about yourself afterwards?
This post intends neither to condemn nor excuse Roethlisberger for his actions. I have no idea what happened that night and by the looks of these photos, neither does he.
Celebrities are not above the law nor common decency but how much privacy should they be allowed and does stupidity override that right? People are still clamoring about the night Tiger Woods crashed his car into a fire hydrant, wanting to know more. But when and where do we draw the line? Don’t high-profile athletes share the same right to privacy as all of us or do they relinquish some of that by being in the public eye?
Despite the limited details of the Roethlisberger case, there is one thing we know for sure. Ben regrets being there that night. The investigation will run its course and if he’s found guilty of sexual assault, he’ll have his day in court. Even if he’s cleared of all charges, most of us agree he needs to take a night off from the disco. Once it’s all said and done, maybe he’ll finally learn when to say when… and to stop saying cheese.