bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Former high school football star exonerated, misguided

No Gravatar

The high school years are a time of promise, a time for dreams, and a time for exploring potential. Most of us get through it having experienced some degree of success, and we move on to our lives, whether that be college or the working world, with only our own personal limitations to hold us back.  Some people, though, have those opportunities snatched away for no reason, and all we can do is lament their misfortune. Brian Banks, a big-time football prospect from California a few years back, spent five years in prison after being falsely accused of kidnapping and rape by a girl from his high school. He was released last year, and this week, his conviction was overturned after his accuser recanted her story. Where he goes from this point will be fascinating to watch.

Banks was being recruited by several major college football programs, including USC, the biggest of them all in the area from which Banks hails. He was 16 years old at the time, and his skills as a linebacker were significant. One day, a trip to the guidance office was detoured by Wanetta Gibson, a fellow student, as they stole off to a stairwell to make out. The quick coupling ended with some kind of negativity, and Gibson later accused Banks of having dragged her to the stairwell and raped her. Banks insisted that they had not had sex, and that the stuff that had happened had been consensual. No evidence of rape was found, but Banks’ lawyer recommended that he plead no contest to the charges, as a guilty verdict would come with a very stiff sentence, anywhere from 41 years to life. Scared of that possibility, and believing he would only serve a year and a half, Banks took the plea. Gibson’s family sued the school district and collected a $1.5 million verdict.

After Banks was released, Gibson contacted him on Facebook. It seems she felt guilty about what had happened, which she blamed on pressure from those around her. She wanted to help Banks clear his name, but was unwilling to go on record about the lies she had told, as she was concerned that she would have to repay the money she had received from the school district. A secret video of a meeting between Gibson and Banks led to the conviction being thrown out, and Banks can begin to put his life back together. This could be seen as a bad story that had a positive ending, but I am confused by the events that have occurred this week since the decision on the conviction. First, no charges are being brought against Gibson. Someone needs to explain that to me. Her lies cost a man five years of his life and a possible college football career. She bilked the Long Beach School District out of a million and a half dollars, and cost the state the money it spent to house and feed Brian Banks for five years. She has admitted that she lied…this is not speculation. Why wouldn’t they be prosecuting her? Amazingly, Banks has said that he does not plan to file a claim against her. Beyond that, Banks does plan to sue the state for reparations. How exactly is this the state’s fault? Banks took the plea, after all. The girl lied, so it seems to me that the fault lies with her.

I am all for Brian Banks getting on with his life. He wants to get back to playing football, and still hopes to play professionally. Good for him. Wanetta Gibson needs to go to jail, though, and Banks, as well as the State of California, should be making sure that happens.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Former West Virginia head football coach Bill Stewart died of a heart attack this week while on a golf vacation. He was 59.

3) Eight people were injured last Monday night after the Oklahoma City Thunder closed out their playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. Gunfire broke out a few blocks from the arena as fans were leaving the game.

4) Two Miami Heat players were suspended by the NBA after game 5 of their series against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. Udonis Haslem and Dexter Pittman were punished for flagrant fouls committed during the game.

5) The sign-maker for the Big 12 Baseball Championships might want to check his spelling next time. Oops.

6) Cincinnati Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman was arrested for being clocked at 93 miles per hour and having a suspended license on Monday. Not to be outdone by a mere baseball player, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley was arrested on Sunday for going 100 mph, being drunk, attempting to elude police, and having no proof of insurance. Two points for the football player. As an added bonus, Fairley was arrested just two months ago for marijuana possession.

7) Tight end Kellen Winslow, who just moved from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Seattle Seahawks, has been sued for allegedly destroying a house that he had been renting in the San Diego area. The damage is estimated at over $130,000.

8) Former NFL kicker Mike Vanderjagt is likely to be fired from his job as a middle school football coach in Florida after being accused of assaulting a student who was taunting him about his various NFL mishaps when he played for the Indianapolis Colts.

Good sports:

1) Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton not only hit a grand slam that ultimately won the game for his team on Monday, he also knocked out the stadium scoreboard with that same homerun. The 462-foot shot he hit off of Jamie Moyer smacked into the outfield scoreboard in the 4th inning.

2) The University of Connecticut hockey team has made two videos for an organization called You Can Play. The videos are intended to make it clear that anyone who can help the team win will be welcomed by the other players, regardless of sexual orientation. With the world of sports being one of slowest to come around to this way of thinking, the UConn players and their school are to be commended for putting this out there.

3) Despite needing IV fluids and oxygen after the game due to an illness, Josh Hamilton still managed to win the game for his team on Saturday, as his 13th-inning homerun led the Texas Rangers to a win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Hamilton is having a truly amazing season.

4) Dario Franchitti won his third Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, one year after his friend Dan Wheldon won his second. Wheldon was killed in a crash in Las Vegas last fall. Franchitti dedicated his win to Wheldon.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
Print This Post Print This Post

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment