Certain athletes receive preferential treatment or a benefit of the doubt when it comes to their actions and behavior, and in the case of Kawhi Leonard's rest days or LeBron having GM type influence on team decisions, it's well deserved.
One such example that highlights this disparity is the divergent treatment between Conor McGregor, a mixed martial arts superstar with a history of criminal activity, who's received more than a fair warning, and Ja Morant, a young basketball talent who has faced multiple suspensions.
During a timeout in Game 4 of the 2023 NBA Finals, Conor McGregor was introduced to the crowd as a special guest. He came out wearing a robe and boxing gloves, and he challenged Burnie the Heat Mascot to a fight. Burnie, who was wearing his mascot costume, faced off with him in the middle of the court. McGregor landed a left hook that knocked Burnie to the ground. McGregor then punched Burnie again while he was down, and Burnie was dragged off the court. Although this was later revealed to be a publicity stunt, the phrase "you play too much" habitually applies to McGregor's actions.
Both seemed to have embraced the bad boy persona, with one using it to increase his fame and popularity, and the other coming dangerously close to being canceled.
Albeit they are stars in different sports, with Conor's making his money from fighting and violence. But, he has also being charged with crimes multiple times which begs the puzzling question of why McGregor seems to evade severe consequences despite his transgressions, while Morant faces harsh penalties for his actions?
Conor McGregor's Troubling Track Record
Conor has a long list of controversial incidents ranging from multiple assault charges to confrontations outside the ring as well as in multiple countries around the world. Despite these incidents, McGregor often manages to maintain his popularity and access to opportunities within the sport without nearly the backlash and "outrage" that Ja Morant has experienced, raising questions about the consistency of disciplinary actions and public perception.
Highlighting the gravity of McGregor's criminal activities also brings us to the concept of moral turpitude, which refers to behavior that goes against societal standards of honesty, decency, and morality. McGregor has more than crossed this line, while Ja Morant's flashing of a firearm on social media isn't. In the gun loving USA, backed by a Second Amendment giving him the right to do so, Conor seems to escape the scrutiny altogether when his actions have actually hurt people.
Is it the discrepancy due to guns being offensive or the individuals committing the acts?
Comparing the severity of Morant's penalties to McGregor's relatively lighter repercussions, we don't need a legal analysis to present a case where we're comparing actual criminal activity to non criminal activity.
The role of media coverage and public perception is critical in shaping the narrative surrounding athletes' actions, and a nation infatuated with policing conduct of young NBA athletes is quickly polarized by Ja Morant while not being nearly as outraged when it's a more stereotypically sympathetic figure committing the act.
The contrasting treatment between Conor McGregor and Ja Morant sheds light on the perplexing double standards prevalent in the sports world. McGregor's ability to evade severe consequences despite his criminal activities raises questions about fairness and equality.
Always remove inconsistencies to expose hypocrisy and lets challenge ourselves to apply a fair system where all athletes are subject to the same standards of accountability, irrespective of their star power.