Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fairness and karma

Fairness is a concept with no concrete definition. Kind of like art ... or pornography. I don't know what fair is ... but I know it when I see it. Or, more often, I don't know what UNfair is, but I know it when I see it.

Think back to the first time you told your parents that something wasn't fair. Most likely, they informed you - in a comforting way - that sometimes life isn't fair.

Such is the case in three separate sports-related stories in the news this week. I say sports-related because they all involve athletes ... but none of them are really sports stories.

First, there was the sentencing of O.J. Simpson to a 9-to-33-year prison term for armed robbery. Locally, we recall (although maybe in shame) that O.J. was a phenomenal running back for the Buffalo Bills, reaching the incredible 2,000 yard single-season mark. But to the rest of the world, O.J. has been - at least for the last 13 years - as the guy that got away with killing his wife.

Simpson, of course, was acquitted of murder charges for the deaths of his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Many people seemed to think that he "worked the system" and "got away with murder." Literally.

And many legal experts today are saying that Simpson's potential 33-year stint in the pokey has a lot more to do with the perception that he still needed to do time for the earlier crime than it had to do with the merits of the current case ... in which he and some buddies stormed into a hotel and kept people hostage while trying to "reclaim" some things that belonged to him.

Some will say that for karma's sake, the lengthy sentence was fair. I disagree.

Then there's NHL loudmouth Sean Avery, who got a six game suspension for making a derogatory remark about an ex-girlfriend. Specifically, Avery said he didn't know why it was now common practice for fellow NHLers to date his "sloppy seconds."

For those who didn't get the reference immediately, Avery's ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert is now dating Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf. And for those who don't understand the meaning of the term ... click here. (warning ... content is inappropriate)

So ... let me see if I can get this straight. With all the cheap shots and stupid stuff that Sean Avery has done on-ice in his seven-year career, he's never been suspended for a single game. But using the term "sloppy seconds" about a girl who was famous for a couple of underwear shots in "The Girl Next Door" and "Old School" nets his six games?

I don't get it.

The NHL, of course, says they're trying to protect their reputation. Apparently the NHL hasn't gotten the memo, but outside of a few select cities in the US and (mostly) Canada, the NHL doesn't have a reputation.

The league cited his ''pattern of unacceptable and anti-social behavior," as a contributing factor into his suspension and the length of it.

In other words, "we're suspending you six games cause you're just not a nice guy."

Fair? Maybe for karma's sake ... but not based on the issue at hand.

And lastly, there's the issue of the NFL's Plaxico Burress who stands to do up to 3 1/2 years in jail because he shot himself in the leg in a NYC nightclub.

According to police accounts, a gun that Burress had tucked into the waistband of his sweat pants slipped down his leg and went off by accident, shooting him in the leg.

The problem for Burress isn't the fact that he was wearing sweatpants in public - although I think that should be a crime. The problem is that he didn't have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

All accounts of the story indicate that the prosecution is leaning towards throwing the book at Burress becuase he's a high-profile athlete. In other words, he's going to pay for the past indiscretions of other athletes.

Now, I won't get into the fact that I think the law itself is stupid (the 2nd amendment doesn't say that you have a right to apply for a permit to bear arms), but needless to say, I do.

For me it comes down to fairness, yet again. There's no way you can convince me that a three and a half year prison sentence for shooting yourself in the leg is fair. But once again, karma comes into play, and many people will think it fair.