A lot of talk has been circulating the world of college football the past few weeks about Baker Mayfield, University of Oklahoma’s starting quarterback.
Although Mayfield has unquestionably been in the limelight throughout his senior season, talk about Mayfield escalated after his actions during the Kansas game earlier this season. Mayfield was accused of unsportsmanlike behavior after taunting profanities and making inappropriate gestures toward Kansas on the sidelines.
As a result of his actions, Mayfield received a two-play suspension the following game against West Virginia and was stripped of his team captain position.
Several individuals took to Twitter immediately following Mayfield’s actions to criticize his behavior, while others applauded him. Regardless of the opinions of Twitter users, Oklahoma Head Coach Lincoln Riley said there was “no excuse” for Mayfield’s behavior.
It is no secret college football is a competitive atmosphere. Over the history of college football, many players have been caught up in the game, yelled things they regretted and committed actions that brought consequences.
However, is it fair to judge a player based on one mistake?
I definitely don’t condone Mayfield’s actions, but as a former athlete, I can testify to how easy it is to get caught up in the game. In today’s world, cameras are constantly zooming in on players, following their every move and making it impossible for any action to go unnoticed.
Mayfield apologized for his actions shortly after, saying, “I got caught up in a competitive game, a chippy game, but what I did was unacceptable,” Mayfield said. “I apologize. It’s disrespectful. It’s not the example I want to set. It’s not the legacy I want to leave at OU. I truly do apologize. Thinking about the kids that are watching this now, it’s not something I want to do to the parents out there. I’m sorry.”
Not only did Mayfield apologize for his actions, but he also turned himself around. This past weekend in Oklahoma’s face-off against West Virginia, Mayfield supported his teammates as he remained on the sidelines during Oklahoma’s first two offensive plays.
Once Mayfield hit the field, he kept his composure and led with good sportsmanship, despite West Virginia’s dirty play at times.
I am proud of Mayfield. For one, he took full responsibility for his behavior. He admitted his fault, but not only did he admit to it, he changed his behavior around.
I am also proud of Riley. Since Riley’s career at Oklahoma, he has relied on Mayfield as a leader on the team. Riley made a bold move in disciplining Mayfield, but I believe it was the right one.
Any athlete, collegiate or professional, is put on a pedestal whether they realize it or not. With every game they play, thousands of people are watching their every move, including young fans. In the position they are in, it is so important they model good character.
But keep in mind every athlete is also human. We are all wired to make mistakes, but that does not mean we judge every athlete based on their shortcomings, nor do we judge every individual based on their failures.
Regardless of whether or not you are an Oklahoma fan or even a Mayfield fan, Mayfield took ownership of his mistake and made it right, and that is something we can all applaud.