By Patricia J. Priest
If you wonder why UGA defensive lineman Jalen Carter felt he could get away with driving 89 mph and faster through the streets on two occasions, consider what I have seen sanctioned in broad daylight.
Years ago, my husband and I saw the Bulldogs fly by us in two buses traveling to a game in Alabama. We were going about 65 mph, and they were gone in a flash. The two buses were dangerously close to one another and flanked by police cars. That exhilarating and dangerous trip surely signaled a green light to the players that accountability for endangering other people’s lives doesn’t always apply when football is in play.
Coach Kirby Smart said to the press recently, “We try to have education programs. Education is not enough. You have to do a great job of making sure your players understand the risks and dangers that are out there with vehicles, especially nowadays that go really fast.”
But that’s pretty much the classic “Do as I say and not as I do” stance unless they put an end to that ritual of speeding off to play in big-stakes games.
And the police of course sometimes treat reckless speeding with a light hand because of the potential negative publicity for the player and the university. The officer who pulled over Carter the first time said, “Your break is that you’re not going to jail because it will make all kind of news.”
Now two people connected to the team have died. Further tragedies are likely to be careening toward us until UGA and the police stop treating reckless speeding like it’s all part of the game.