Ray Jacobs, Khalif Mitchell, Yonus Davis, and now Jabar Westerman. What do all of these players have in common? All of them were disciplined by the BC Lions following incidents that brought negative attention to the club and the community it represents.
Under Wally Buono, the BC Lions have remained consistent when it comes to player discipline over the years and that’s something you have to respect, as they put community over wins on the football field. They have worked hard in the community with programs that take a stand against bullying and violence against women.
Last season when three Saskatchewan Roughriders players were charged in an alleged assault at a Regina night club, they allowed those players to stay on the roster without ramifications. Receiver Taj Smith, the only one of the three who will stand trial for the alleged assault and is a major piece of the Riders offence, remains on the roster to this day.
Each team is free to operate how they wish of course and the Riders certainly don’t have to worry as much about perception in their community as the Lions do. But the Lions have shown time and time again that to be a member of this team you not only have to play well in the field of play, you also have to represent the organization in a positive light in the community.
Jabar Westerman is the latest athlete to find himself under the microscope after an alleged assault at a Vancouver night club. There are currently few details available, but it is known that Westerman will appear in court to answer for these charges in the near future. What that means for his future as a BC Lion is unclear, and the national defensive lineman is currently in the last year of his contract with the Lions.
Players have to be smarter when putting themselves in these situations and the examples of this transcend to all sports. Who knows what sparked the incident, and a lot of times players become targets in these environments. These are young men, who obviously like to enjoy the same freedoms and fun that anyone their age would, but when you represent a professional team as a player, you have to realize the ramifications of your actions.
In a blog posted by Lowell Ullrich of The Province newspaper, the Lions are hoping for the best result for Westerman in court, but are also stating he needs to redeem himself with the club as well as his teammates in the locker room before there will be consideration of putting him back in the lineup.
Khalif Mitchell came back to the Lions, so there is an example of a player getting a second chance and I am sure the Lions are hoping that the same happens for Westerman. But he will have to show he has learned from his mistake and understand what responsibilities you need to uphold to be a BC Lion.
Kudos to the Lions for putting community before wins on the football field.