At UCLA, Punishment Doesn’t Fit Crime And Speaks Of Cowardice

Shoplifting Fiasco UCLA put its three newly-returned basketball players on display for a bit on Wednesday. Allowed them to fess up about their detention in China for shoplifting. Did...

Shoplifting Fiasco

UCLA put its three newly-returned basketball players on display for a bit on Wednesday. Allowed them to fess up about their detention in China for shoplifting. Did not permit them to answer any questions at a press conference, nor did the university’s personnel present answer any questions.

LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley acknowledged their offenses and made the usual excuses while, of course, saying they were not excuses.

“I’m sorry for stealing from the stores in China,” said Ball.

“I’m sorry for shoplifting. What I did was stupid,” said Hill.

Their release from China required the intervention of President Donald Trump and created a minor international incident in which these players could have faced 10 years in prison.

UCLA’s punishment? An indefinite suspension. At times like these we miss Ann Landers and her 50 lashes with a wet noodle.

We can only imagine what might have happened if this had been three biology majors who pilfered from a high-end mall. They would likely still be in China, facing bigger issues than an indefinite suspension from their microscopes.

But these are athletes and Ball, whose older brother Lonzo played at UCLA last year, is a prized prospect. Lonzo played one season, then went to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA draft. See the value?

So the wall of silence goes up, the perps are protected and UCLA’s reputation joins theirs in the trash pile.

If you’re dumb enough to shoplift in a foreign country, the school you belong in is not UCLA but reform. If you’re UCLA, you step up and suspend them for the season (and that’s not particularly harsh, given what took place and the steps needed to free them).

We’ll also offer special props to the Pac-12, which left discipline in UCLA’s hands.

How embarrassing. How craven. How disgraceful.

“The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,” wrote William Shakespeare. Yep, it droppeth all over UCLA’s campus, if you are part of high-value sports program.

In this instance, the quality of mercy is strange. But athletes expect special privileges. And once again we find out why.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

Follow @TwistityNews