There has been uproar from inside and outside the footballing community as rumours have circulated that recently released, convicted rapist and (former) professional footballer Ched Evans could potentially be re-signed by Sheffield United, following his prison sentence. Evans was found guilty of rape in April 2012 and sentenced to five years in prison, two and a half of which he served.
Reports of his return to Sheffield United were met with a petition supported by approximately 150,000 people, advising the club not to aid the rebuilding of his career and life, because of his conviction. Celebrity supporter and club ambassador Jessica Ennis-Hill has come out and stated that should the club re-sign Evans, she would want to remove all association with the club, including the stand in her name at the club's ground.
However, all this action poses the question; where do we draw the line? At which point do we put our trust in the justice system to reform the people who have done wrong, instead of making them outcasts because of their mistakes?
Despite Evans serving his time for the crime he committed, now he is out of jail, people are not willing to allow him to continue the career he once had, inflicting further punishment to his jail sentence. The justice system is in place to punish and (more importantly) reform those that have committed crimes so they can be reintegrated into society, so the eagerness to continually punish people for mistakes they've already been punished for seems unfair. An example to look at is Mike Tyson. He was also convicted of rape in 1992 and served a 3 years sentence, seeing him released in 1995. He went on to make a return to the ring, winning WBC & WBA titles during the mid '90s, despite the rape conviction. More recently, after being accepted back into his profession, Tyson has made appearances in documentaries based on his life, TV series (Entourage, How I Met Your Mother) as well as films (Rocky Balboa, The Hangover, The Hangover II), not to mention huge franchises such as the WWE.
Furthermore, Tyson has had his own reality TV series, displaying how far he's come since his mistakes as a younger man, proving that people can learn and be rehabilitated via the justice system and other services. If people can live to forgive the many mistakes that a very high profile figure like Mike Tyson has made in his life, putting him back in the limelight for positive reasons, surely people have enough tolerance to do the same for Ched Evans, who has hardly had a career in comparison. Maybe this is part of the problem? Perhaps it's easier for society to make an example of Evans, as he's not the high profile, profitable individual that Mike Tyson was when he returned to the ring. Not as many people have as much to lose if they hang Evans out to dry.
It is understandable that people are upset and resentful toward Evans because of what he has done, but for how long do we punish him for something he's already been punished for and should it affect his professional career? People have spoke about the fact that he may be a "role model" to young supporters of Sheffield United and #Football fans in general, but with all due respect to Evans, he's not at that footballing level where his actions really have that much of an influence.
In addition to this, the idea of being a role model is a moot point, as anyone can be considered a role model to anyone else, it's all in perspective of the individual.
The world would be unable to survive if we didn't forgive people for their mistakes. Without forgiveness life is governed by an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation, so maybe this is something we should keep in mind in the case of Ched Evans? #Celebrities