This past week University of Michigan basketball player Mitch McGary got busted for a positive drug test that took place during the NCAA basketball tournament last month. According to the NCAA rule book the consequence for being busted for this infraction—in this case, smoking marijuana—is to be suspended from the team for a year. Facing the year-long suspension, McGary declared himself eligible for the National Basketball Association draft that will be held early this summer. Instead of being suspended for a year, he is now probably going to be a possible first round pick that will make a couple of million dollars playing basketball.
Of course, he apologized. I imagine it was a difficult apology as he attempted to keep from smiling throughout the statement: “Being a part of a program that values integrity, it is important to let everyone know of a poor decision I recently made. I tested positive for marijuana during the NCAA Tournament. We were notified of that result after the Final Four. I regret thoroughly disappointing my family, coaches and administration. Despite all of this they have been understanding and helpful over the last couple of weeks.” It is hard to feel bad when you know you are going to be banking a couple of million in a few months for doing something stupid like smoking a doobie during a basketball tournament. The guy was busted and he walks away smelling like . . . well, a million bucks!
This guy lives in a different world than I . . . and, probably a different one than you do. I was always taught that there are consequences to for the choices that I make in life . . . you screw up, you pay the price. Consequences are supposed to teach us lessons . . . lessons so that we do not make the same mistake twice. You break the law, you go to jail . . . lesson that is learned: don’t break the law. This guy didn’t learn anything . . . I doubt if he can even count to a million. He faced no consequences.
Man, I wish I had his life. Driving down the road, nailing the highway at 90 miles-per-hour, I get pulled over by the state patrol. “Boy,” says the trooper, “Do you realize that you were going twenty-five miles over the posted speed limit!”
“Really? I was booking!”
“You were speeding. Speeding in the state of Montana is illegal . . . thou shalt not speed. Commandment number eleven.”
“Ninety . . . whoa, dude, that is fast!”
“Fast enough to get you a ticket and a date with the judge in court.”
“Naw, I don’t think so . . . I’m going to start driving for NASCAR. I’m going to declare myself a race car driver.”
“I’m going to NASCAR . . . be a race car driver. There is no need for that ticket. Shoot! I will be a shoo in for NASCAR . . . they drive fast all the time!”
“You can’t just skip your consequence . . . your punishment.”
“Sure I can! Athletes do it all of the time . . . they move on up to the next level. Make the big bucks. Hey, I was going ninety miles-per-hour! I’m the next Richard Petty! Just keep your ticket!”
“But . . .”
Not even in my wildest dreams would that ever happen. No, with my luck I would get nailed with a ticket worth a couple of hundred dollars, lose two points on my license, and see my insurance go up a couple of hundred dollars. That would be the real consequence of me tooling down the road at ninety miles-per-hour. If I even mentioned that I was even thinking about NASCAR, the officer would probably drag me out of my car and proceed to administer a sobriety test. Only the government would be smiling all the way to the bank. That is the world I live in.
McGary gets caught smoking an illegal drug . . . he is underage . . . he broke the team and university rules . . . broke NCAA rules . . . broke state laws . . . let down his teammates, university, family, and friends . . . and, he gets to say, “I’m sorry. Just send me to the NBA.” Something is wrong with this picture. Something doesn’t make sense. But this guy is playing that card. What world is he living in? What is the address? I want to live in that world.
Of course I am not even six foot tall. I cannot dribble or shoot a basketball with great skill. This guy is over six foot five, can dribble quite well, and he can score points . . . heck, he was a pre-season All American at the start of the season. The guy can play basketball. Me . . . well, I’m just a lowly preacher . . . a lowly person who provides professional development to teachers . . . who just scrapes by. Nothing real important or valuable . . . the spiritual lives of people is not important . . . who cares whether they go to heaven or hell? Educators are not important . . . who cares if they have the training they need to teach children for the future.
What does this say about our society? What does this say about what our society values? The NBA didn’t refuse his application for the draft. The coach of the university team gave him a rousing recommendation of support. The team that drafts him won’t care as long as he keeps his nose clean . . . shoot, a failed drug test in the NBA is a short vacation for a couple of days—not a suspension for a whole year. Since when should people get rewarded for breaking the rules?
Yeah, it is a different world than you and I live in. And, yeah, it is not fair to those of us who live in the real world . . . the other ninety-eight percent of us. But, that is the way it is. We can moan and groan, but it won’t change anything for us. Me, well . . . I have been practicing my dribbling out in the garage. I have been working on my jump shot. And, I found a pair of basketball shoes with ten inch lifts that make me six foot eight. Next time I get into trouble, I’m declaring myself for the draft. Watch out Celtics . . . here I come! If Mitch McGary can do it . . . why should we all?