And the difference is…

01Nov07

I think we’ve all heard this story before. Pro athlete or celebrity does something stupid and illegal, claims they’ve learned their lesson, then reverts back to old habits. There are plenty of Hollywood starlets who’ve demonstrated this pattern, and plenty of athletes who’ve fallen into its nasty habits (Rick Tocchet, you STILL gambled after the NHL told you not to?). What’s worse is when people deny they had any wrongdoing.

Mark Bell didn’t do any of that. He made a very stupid, very wrong decision, and though his play on the ice may have suffered as a consequence, as a person, he seems to have become better for the resulting consequences.

There’s an article in the CP today about how Bell is getting ready for his NHL return, and you know what? I say good for him. Now, let’s get this clear — in no way do I condone a DUI or what he did. But I think it’s important to look at the facts — or as I see it, how he turned negatives into positives.

The incident happened over a year ago, and since then, he hasn’t had a single drop of alcohol. In many interviews, he’s acknowledged how he’d used drinking for the wrong reasons without the proper level ofself-control, and he understands how that’s done harm to not only himself, but his career and other people. He’s worked with the legal system to accept the suitable punishment, and he’s taken the time for self-reflection to recognize what the right thing to do is.

I always say that you have to give someone credit when they turn their life around. For Bell, he didn’t skirt the issue, didn’t try to pass blame or hide from it. He dealt with it on a personal level and a legal level and from all accounts, has become a better, stronger person because of it. It doesn’t excuse his crime at all, but if he can learn from his mistakes and reach out to the community (he was, after all, the Blackhawks’ Man Of The Year for charity and outreach two years ago) to share his story, maybe he can deter this from happening to someone else out there.

Forgive and forget? Maybe not both, but when someone can turn a negative into a positive, forgiving definitely seems possible.

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