Evanson column: Sunglass-swiping Bruins should pay a price for off-the-court buffoonery
Did you get a whiff of my sarcasm? That was me in an attempt to work up a tear for the UCLA basketball trio that was unceremoniously sent back to Los Angeles after a week of "house arrest" in the city of Hangzhou, China, after allegedly stealing a pair of high-end sunglasses while on a school-sanctioned trip for a game versus Georgia Tech.
Normally, such a misstep would be little more than a blip on the radar of even the biggest and most tuned-in sports fans. But when one of the three Bruin Hamburglars is the spawn of the self-proclaimed "Big Baller" himself, people take notice.
That's right, LiAngelo Ball, the middle son of everyone's favorite stage dad, LaVar Ball, was one of the mischievous young lads accused of cashing in on a five-finger discount at the Sunglass Hut in Hangzhou. But while the University of California Los Angeles ponders their sentence following their triumphant return to the U.S., I simply say this: throw the book at them.
Now, I've seen "Return to Paradise" and no, I'm not suggesting anything along those lines. But I am suggesting that some semblance of a sanction is necessary to hold these guys accountable for such a monumental act of buffoonery.
People will say:
They're just kids.
They made a mistake.
We all did stupid stuff.
And they're right, most of us did do a stupid thing or two in our youth, and I can tell you I did more than my share. But when I did, I paid a price by way of a tangible punishment that held me accountable for my irresponsible act.
To excuse a kid's "mistake" without consequence is a failure by the adults whose job it is to raise them.
And in this case, the scope of the mistake goes far beyond a bungled minor league heist, but speaks to the reputation of a school and a country already battling ill repute.
Make these kids suffer a bit. That doesn't mean a firing squad, caning or solitary confinement, but rather a punishment befitting kids acting above the law. I can't tell you what that is, but I can tell you it should hurt.
After all, they may have embarrassed us in China, but to do nothing in response would be a far greater embarrassment to ourselves.