Suspension Controversy

Football season is upon us, and with it comes drama from players around the country. Jameis Winston, starting quarterback for Florida State, was recently suspended from the game against Clemson following an indecent in which USA today reports he stood on a table shouting a vulgar phrase at a student union. This is not the first time Winston has found his way into the news, as throughout last year he was involved in multiple implications in which he had to perform community service and was suspended by Florida State’s baseball team for three games. Regardless of whether you think this recent incident was handled correctly, the media attention of a player seemingly unable to refrain from finding his way into the news connects to a heavily debated topic in the world today. That subject is, the punishments teams and sport leagues hand out to their athletes.

Although the discussions mainly focus on the NFL, this recent situation with Winston has drawn scrutiny toward Florida State University due to the lack of punishment he has received despite his continued poor decisions. CNN’s bleacher report begins to focus on the issue, discussing the affects of the punishments carried out by Florida State administrators. However, the core issue here is how and why these sanctions are being given.

Three factors impact a decision: interest, fear, and honor.

Administering punishments onto players is at first made in the interest of those enforcing the penalties. In Winston’s case, Florida State was attempting to enforce a punishment that would have as little negative effect as possible for their football program. This has been the case in all investigations against Winston (excluding the sexual assault case which was conducted by authorities), as the loss of their star quarterback would devastate the football team’s chances for success. In an ESPN insider, the reasoning behind the suspensions is discussed, and they talk about why Florida State chose to only give him a half game suspension at first. This would this have allowed Winston to help his team to victory and show his importance to Florida State’s football program

However, the last minute increase in Winston’s suspension was impacted by fear and honor. After social media discovered the reasoning for the penalty being placed on Jameis, Florida State decided to administer a harsher punishment in fear of community outrage and the NCAA intervening with the situation. Though this appears to be the sole reasoning for the change in the university’s decision, honor was also an influencing component. After receiving the Heisman Trophy his freshmen year, Winston was held in high regard by the public. The months prior to receiving the award included several incidents bringing bad light to both the Florida State and their famed quarterback. At the beginning of each event, the appearance of both the player and the team he plays for were in question, and without stricter punishments the public opinion of the two would have taken a turn for the worse. The Honor Winston once had is something Florida State is trying to maintain, and social media is forcing the university to choose between this and the Interest of their football team.

Jameis Winston holding up the Heisman trophy

The drama about Jameis Winston’s suspension from the Clemson game draws a clear picture of the factors that influence the decisions administrators make in the wake of investigations. This goes beyond Florida State, and even further than football, as the actions taken during any incident involving sanctions is affected by outside causes. Would punishments be changed or as harsh if social media did not have as big of an impact on the public today? This is debatable, but the fact remains that interest, fear, and honor continue to influence administrative decisions in sports and the real world.

Below is a video of the interview in which Jameis Winston addresses the situation prior to the initial suspension from the game against Clemson, as well as a poll about the penalty Winston recieved.