Widgets Magazine

Park: Media shouldn’t be giving Winston situation any legs

Raise your hand if you ever did anything stupid as a teenager or young adult. Unless you’re not yet the age of 13 and are exhibiting some precocious reading skills (and an unusual affinity for sports opinions), your hand should be in the air right now. Because in today’s popular culture, stupidity is closely associated the teenage lifestyle — regrettable life choices, learning about life decisions the hard way and sometimes suffering the consequences of those poor decisions.

So when the news broke that Florida State all-everything quarterback Jameis Winston had been cited by police for shoplifting around 30 dollars’ worth of crab legs, why is it such a monumental event that the entire sports world collectively goes nuts? Is a stupid decision on the part of a 20-year-old college student really something so groundbreaking and unexpected that it merits thousands of tweets and hundreds of news stories?

“But Do,” you might say. “Jameis Winston isn’t just any 20-year-old college student! He won the national championship! He won the Heisman Trophy! I’m planning on naming my first-born child after him!”

Why does that change anything at all?

Just because Winston is really, really good at throwing an inflated bladder to other college students doesn’t mean that he isn’t a college student learning about how to make proper life decisions just like the rest of us. The argument that because he’s in the media spotlight, he should be expected to conduct himself more responsibly even off the field is unfair to him; we can’t expect him to suddenly mature just because of the expectations placed on him.

While it’s true that it’s important for those athletes that are looked to as role models by the younger generation to be leaders off the field as well, I think that it’s unreasonable to expect them to fulfill that role if they’re also trying to learn to find their way in the world themselves. He’s a college sophomore, for God’s sake. His unwise actions aren’t that uncommon for young people his age, and while I’m not trying to defend his shoplifting in any way, it’s ridiculous that something this commonplace is garnering so much attention.

Winston is a man that will face the consequences of his stupid decision just like anyone else would in his position. He’s being fined and he’ll need to do community service. There. It should be all said and done at that. But because the media latched onto the story and made as big of a deal out of it as it did, people around the nation are pasting his face onto newly created memes, poking fun at his position and questioning his maturity. That’s overkill. The man walked out of a store with crab legs; it’s not like he robbed a bank or ran over anyone with a car or anything. Just let the issue go.

But with the state of sports media today, the issue isn’t going to go away. Heaven knows that this label of crab-leg-stealer is going to stick with him through the rest of the offseason, at least, and possibly throughout his career, just because of the media’s infatuation with him as the reigning national champion and Heisman Trophy winner.

Especially during the offseason, when big news is slow and writers are scrambling for fresh content involving the characters that make their jobs possible during the season, it’s the little things like this that have no business exploding on the national scene and become the biggest news of the day. The details of what Jameis Winston does in his spare time and the consequences of what he might do in that spare time should be Jameis Winston’s business and Jameis Winston’s business alone.

Unless his decisions seriously bring his judgment into question in a way that would negatively impact the image of Florida State’s program, or have a negative impact on the team as a whole, it’s a huge blow to the personal privacy of this 20-year-old to have every mistake he makes magnified and critiqued on a global level.

So seriously, everybody — leave Jameis alone. Let him have his offseason in peace, and don’t make his business yours until football time again, when news involving his activities is once again rightfully relevant to the national sphere.

While Do-Hyoung Park believes all the attention surrounding this issue is warrantless, he still thinks Famous Jameis took a pretty bisque-y move. Forward all appropriate crustacean-related recipes at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Tweet him @dohyoungpark with #riskybisqueness.

About Do-Hyoung Park

Do-Hyoung Park '16 honestly isn't quite sure what he does for The Stanford Daily anymore, apart from the fact that he still writes a lot about football, gets cranky at the sports editors and scares away the new freshmen. He also writes for (or has written for) The Bootleg, Sports Illustrated and MLB.com and has been a four-time Managing Editor at The Daily. After graduating in June with degrees in Chemical Engineering and Computer Science, he's begrudgingly staying on for his master's in Chemical Engineering as well. Please feel free to bother him at dhpark 'at' stanford.edu.