Everyone at TJHN and our parent company Hockey Talent Management works with young players and their families on a daily basis. One of the first things any new client is told is; “In bed by eleven, play better at seven.”
Everyone tells every player to stay away from alcohol, tobacco and places where those items can easily be found or provided.
Athletes, particularly those who say they are serious about pursuing a career in sports should stay away from situations where they could get into or be associated with any activity that other people may not see as being productive. There is a difference though in those athletes that say they are serious, and those that show they are serious.
How many times have we read about athletes getting into trouble in bars? Sometimes it is the same athlete that is in the media for multiple instances of poor judgement. We are not talking about the Aaron Hernadez type of activity, but the typical story of the athlete who said, “I was just out for a few beers with friends.”
Two weeks ago, Preston Hodge, Matt White and Alex Simonson, members of the University of Nebraska Omaha hockey team were ticketed for suspicion of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. The tickets were issued in the early hours of the morning after witnesses told police that the hockey players had been harassing a small group of African-Americans with racial slurs and epithets.
Nothing good happens after midnight.
Athletes should never put themselves in a position where they could be caught in a situation that results in tickets, let alone allegations of racial slurs and epithets. Staying in a bar, or an alcohol related situation till the early morning hours is a recipe for disaster. The only reason to be in a situation like that is that too much alcohol is being consumed, or you are there as a designated driver. Even then, the driver should always advise his team mates and friends that nothing good happens after midnight for a serious athlete.
After an internal investigation by the UNO athletic department which included a discussion with the Omaha Police Department, Preston Hodge and Matt White have been dismissed from the UNO hockey team and are no longer on scholarship. In addition, Alex Simonson has been suspended pending further investigation by the athletic department.
This certainly is not the first time something like this has happened, and it sure wont be the last time we hear of an athlete being involved in a situation like this. The important thing to remember is that this does not have to be you.
It is easy enough to take yourself out of these situations. It is easier still to not enter them in the first place.
A few beers with friends has turned into a very costly scholarship loss for two players. Is a six-pack of beer worth thirty to forty thousand dollars to you? Thats what the real cost for these young men will be.
Lets hope the players involved can pull themselves together and learn some life lessons through this experience. Lets also hope any players reading this can learn the same life lessons without having to experience any of this.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher