Young people doing stupid things

Sports blotter: "Carrying a gun to a track meet" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  March 19, 2008

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WAY OF THE GUN: Josh Jarboe
It’s good to be sure
“This isn’t fixin’ to stop me,” crowed a defiant Josh Jarboe, the University of Oklahoma football recruit who this past year was ranked the 10th-best high-school wide receiver prospect in the country by the scouting Web site rivals.com. Jarboe was all over the news this past week, sounding like a man put up on the cross as a martyr, and no wonder — he had just been arrested, and for what? For bringing a loaded, unregistered, stolen gun to school! As if the police don’t have anything better to do!

“This is just a speed bump that has slowed me down,” the wronged youngun insisted. “I’m going to get up out of this and go on doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Jarboe was getting dropped off for a high-school track meet by a buddy named James Davis when an assistant principal reportedly saw him stuffing a silver and black gun into the waistband of his pants. He was later discovered in possession of a loaded .380. Authorities in DeKalb County, Georgia, rang him up on two felony counts: having a weapon on school property and receiving stolen property.

Jarboe insisted that the arrest would have no impact on his planned arrival at Oklahoma next year, but coach Bob Stoops wasn’t offering any public reassurances along those lines — he declined to comment. Maybe Stoops knows what Jarboe’s lawyer apparently hasn’t explained to him yet, which is that bringing a handgun to a “school safety zone” in the state of Georgia carries a minimum penalty of two years. It also mandates expulsion from school for at least one year — which might make it difficult for Jarboe to graduate on time to get to his next level of “school” at Oklahoma.

Someone should do a study on this, but there definitely seems to be a correlation between getting busted on gun charges and failing to live up to athletic potential. Almost inevitably, the guys who have everything going for them and still find a need to bring guns to school, or Burger King, or on board a passenger airplane, or to places where they don’t need them — those guys seem to flame out early, for some reason, or become terminal headaches for their coaches. The NBA is full of guys like that: just think of our (former) own Bassy Telfair, famed C’s bust Joe Forte, pine-rider extraordinaire/White House shooter Lonny Baxter, even Zach Randolph back in the day. Football has even more guys on the bust list. Remember Ramonce Taylor, the onetime Texas Longhorn running back who was caught with .40-caliber ammo in his car? Who needs .40-caliber ammo outside Fallujah? Well, the NFL didn’t think it needed Taylor. And so these guys fall by the wayside, one after another.

There are exceptions to the rule — Allen Iverson comes to mind — but it sure seems like, unlike other kinds of crimes where the statistical sample is spread out evenly over successes and failures, the guys who are too dumb to not carry illegal guns tend also to be too dumb to grasp the level of commitment needed to succeed in pro sports.

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