Nix the make-up call

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Ever heard of a make-up call in sports?

Florida State University (FSU) Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the team’s game on Sept. 20 for yelling “Fuck her right in the pussy” — a line from a viral video — in the middle of FSU’s student union.

That’s the epitome of a make-up call.

After all, Winston wasn’t suspended for a single game during the 2013 season after being accused of sexual assault. Hell, he even won the Heisman Trophy and led FSU to the national title.

It’s disturbing he was allowed to start for the Seminoles last year. While he was never charged with any crime related to the alleged assault, there still should have been some form of discipline.

Instead, his skill outweighed the negative aspects. Suspending him after the allegations were made would have cost him his Heisman and the Seminoles their championship, a pair of feathers in FSU’s cap.

One year later, he was suspended for something that’s negligible. As university students, we’ve probably all said stupid things in public that don’t merit punishment.

If the justification for FSU’s decision is that Winston damaged the school’s reputation, surely he should have been suspended in 2013.

Winston is the face of the Seminoles’ athletic program as its star football player and a talented baseball player. FSU once made him untouchable; now, they’re suddenly holding him to a higher standard than any other student.

It’s misleading to make it seem as if this suspension has anything to do with what he yelled. Winston is being punished because the school didn’t discipline him when he did something legitimately wrong.

It’s a larger problem affecting sports right now: organizations screw up and then resort to making pitiful make-up calls, often as a result of pressure from outside sources.

Look at how the NFL recently handled two high-profile domestic violence cases. Ray Rice was originally suspended for two games for knocking out his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City elevator in February. Adrian Peterson, meanwhile, was only slated to miss one game after being accused of child abuse. Both have since been banned indefinitely.

Like FSU’s handling of Winston, the athlete’s skill level was too strong to warrant a long suspension in both situations — until public pressure came in.

The onus is on FSU and the NFL — and sports leagues in general — to realize that make-up calls don’t solve problems. If you don’t screw up in the first place, you don’t have to make things right the second time around.

Sean is the Journal’s Sports Editor. He’s a third-year English major.

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