September 24th, 2010

The Marlon King Question: Prizes Or Principles?

Marlon King arrives at court to face sexual assault charges in 2009. Images: Getty Images/Zimbio

So as Marlon King prepares to make his debut for Coventry City, the controversy surrounding his signing continues unabated. For those not in the know, King was convicted of punching a woman in the face in a night club in 2008 after she rejected his sexual advances. He was in the club to celebrate his wife’s third pregnancy and  served nine months in jail.

One long time Coventry City season ticket holder, Ann Lucas, has stated she will no longer be attending home matches at the Ricoh Arena as a protest to the signing of the former Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough striker. She states that she feels unable to support a team ‘which gives employment as a role model to somebody who has been convicted three times for offences against women’.

The situation throws up an interesting dichotomy at a time when the behaviour of footballers in public is under unprecedented scrutiny.

On one hand, there is the argument that Marlon King was convicted by a jury, he served the sentence imposed on him by the judge and should be free to earn a living like any other person. He did the time for the crime, so leave off, basically.

Coventry City are a Championship club on a tight budget and the opportunity to acquire a player with King’s track record and worth is one that they cannot afford to turn down.

But would you be happy if your club signed him, or any player with a conviction of this nature? It should be noted that the club he was playing for at the time of his conviction, Wigan Athletic, sacked him and took a hit on the £5 million they paid for him.

Principles or success on the pitch, Kickettes? While elite European clubs can afford to avoid players with damaged reputations, there are plenty of you out there who support clubs that struggle financially. A player like King could score vital goals that keep your side in your league, maybe even give you promotion or a lucrative cup run. In these times, it could be the difference between survival and insolvency.

Or like Ann Lucas, would you rather take the risk over having a man with his convictions not representing your club? And if this is the case, how far are you prepared to take it? A drink driving offence? Speeding? Do you only want players representing your club who are clean living? Not exactly realistic, is it? Or is the sexual nature of King’s crimes indicative of an attitude toward women that just cannot be tolerated in a sport?

Tell us what you think.

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11 Responses to “The Marlon King Question: Prizes Or Principles?”

  1. Leya_S says:

    There is a world-wide debate on the rehabilitation of criminals after they get out of jail. King is, without a doubt, a criminal, as he did commit a (multiple?) criminal offense. As such, he spent his time in jail, and now he's out, ready to rejoin the world. The largest debate comes from the idea that once you've committed a crime, should you be forever penalized and condemned for it? Can people really change, or are they once a criminal, always a criminal? If a criminal commits a crime and pays the price, should they be allowed to resume a normal life? And who's to say that they may or may not be allowed to do so? And CAN someone really be rehabilitated after their stint in the big house?

    These are all hard questions that are posed. I am of the opinion that if a criminal commits a crime and pays the price, then I don't see why they shouldn't be able to at least attempt to resume a normal life. Yes, they might be met with skepticism, discrimination, and the like; I'm not saying that if I had a business and had the choice between hiring an ex-con or a person with no criminal record, I would not take a moment to consider the first candidate's criminal past. I'm definitely not innocent in that regard. But if a criminal has the chance to resume their lives, they should be afforded that opportunity. Has King seen the error of his ways? Who knows. But until he shows signs of "relapse" so to speak, or he commits another crime, then Coventry should be okay to accept him as a player on a sort of "indefinite" probationary period. If he were to commit another crime, he gets the boot, and that's that.

  2. this guy has offended THREE times, enough is enough, footballers whether they like it or not are role models for youngsters, would he be re-employed in his chosen profession if he was a teacher, a nurse or a police officer. The guy keeps protesting his innocence, but guilty three times? He needs to be drop kicked out of the game for good!

  3. BarceLisa says:

    Every guy I know who saw the Snooki punch on the Jersey Shore say they cringed and hated the guy who did it. The only difference is that incident was caught on camera. I wonder how male Coventry supporters would feel about Marlon King if him punching that woman was caught on camera. As a woman, just knowing about this makes me angry and disgusted. If I was a Coventry fan, I would join Ann Lucas' boycott of the club for the same reasons I will never again buy a Chris Brown cd.

  4. Lotte (Zlatanista) says:

    Nice guy. No i wouldn´want my club to sign him no matter how good he was, and that is because of the nature of the crime. I would be extremely conflicted about cheering for my team. I can´t say what would make totally abandon my team, though. It would breake my heart, but at a certain point i would.

  5. hereforthenando says:

    I think that there is a very big difference between hiring players who have been speeding or having affairs vs. players who assault women who spurn their sexual advances. In my opinion, this represents a completely unforgivable attitude towards women and should not be tolerated by any club. You can't really "do your time" when it comes to a crime like this; before he punched this woman, he likely had an attitude of complete disrespect and anger towards women for his entire life. Of course this is a larger societal issue, but I won't get into that right now.

    I can't help but compare this to Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who has been charged twice with sexual assault but has never been convicted. Many say that he is "innocent until proven guilty," but in a society with a legal system that biases the rich and has a very low rate of conviction for sexual crimes, can we say that he is completely innocent? If I was a Steelers fan I would definitely want my club to get rid of him; keeping him implies an attitude of leniency to sexual assault, which is definitely not something that I would not appreciate as a female fan. Yes, Roethlisberger is a great quarterback and the team would likely suffer without him. But letting anybody commit crimes like this with impunity would do a great disservice to society, and I would be hurt and offended if my club stood by him despite these accusations.

    Much in the same way, Marlon King has not "done his time," and I think that his presence on the pitch is an insult to female fans, and any male fans who consider themselves to be allies to women. Clubs should stand by their fans, rather than people who have been convicted for sexual assault.

    • BarceLisa says:

      Glad you brought up Roethlisberger. I think the Rooney family (who own the Steelers) are getting too much credit for what they did (or didn't do in this case). To me, not getting rid of him was a slap in the face (no pun intended) to all the female Steelers fan, which I am sure there are a lot of. Some US sports pundits even suggested there was a racial element in this apparent double standard. If Roethlisberger was black, he would not have been given a second chance (their words, not mine).

      • hereforthenando says:

        Not to get into a race debate on Kickette, but I think that what you said is completely right. Roethlisberger is lucky. Did you hear that he got two games knocked off of his suspension because he went to church a few times and tearfully apologized to his teammates? I think that there are a lot more people that could better use an apology…

        While what Roethlisberger and King did are completely different, they both have a common thread of sexual entitlement. King reacted violently to being turned down for sex because he thinks that he is entitled to it. This is something that we cannot stand for.

        • imagine if someone did that to his daughter—->its disgusting really…i would turn my back on my team if one of our players got convicted of such crime (touch wood that wont ever happen) i would never cheer for a guy with what he has done, for real.

        • BarceLisa says:

          that's right. And Roethlisberger is lucky not just for getting his suspension reduced (which I think was complete BS) but also for not being convicted for the Georgia nightclub incident. Its a bad sign if the prosecutor investigating the case basically implied, through body language, that a crime took place. Another common thread is that if both men perform well for their teams, fans will begin to forget about their pasts. That is the sad but true nature of modern sports.

    • super m says:

      I don't want to nitpick, but Roethlisberger wasn't ever charged…he was only accused, not even arrested. (Full disclosure – my dog's currently wearing a Steelers collar, lol). No, seriously though, as far as NFL players go, how quick people forget that Ray Lewis (who isn't white) killed (or by his own testimony sat back and watch his friend kill) an actual person. A person. He was involved in the murder of a person! That is far beyond any of this. But look at Michael Vick. He did his crime, did his time, and people still won't let it go. (Also, how weird that it's Pittsburgh, Philly, and Baltimore we're talking about, all in the same general area).
      As a girl, and a casual Steeler fan, I don't feel like it's a slap in the face that Big Ben is still on the team. He's clearly a creeper, being like 30 hanging out at college bars, but…on the other hand, all that's been proven is he evidently can't find the 8 million girls who'd willingly get with him. Ben has a history of being a dumbass though, remember the helmet-less motorcycle accident?
      Anyway, after that long rant, I'm in the "he did his time, let it go" camp.

  6. I respect the Coventry City fans who are outraged. I wouldn't want King signing for Ipswich Town. I think he's dirt and I look forward to Town thrashing CCFC in their next meeting.

    BUT – King has paid his debt to society and he has a right to earn a living and support his children.

    If clubs only hired players who were angels, we'd have no one to support.