​A week ago, a photograph of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara along with Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa and the Stanley Cup surfaced. Hossa was enjoying his day with the trophy in his native Slovakia. Chara, who coincidentally happens to be Hossa’s neighbor, joined in his friend’s celebration and even posed for a photo. Apparently this was a massive faux pas. Joe Haggerty, who covers the Bruins for Comcast SportsNet New England and is one of – if not the – most preeminent hockey writers in Boston today, wrote a piece about the matter in which he denounced the photo as bad decision making. Zdeno Chara “should know better,” he wrote. It seems Haggerty thinks Chara’s decision could cause a rift in the Bruins locker room next season or make the team look bad in the eyes of Boston fans still grieving over the loss of game 6. Think about all of the controversial stories in Boston sports over the past four months. When it comes to bad decision making and tarnishing public perception, where does this rank? With all we’ve seen, it probably merits being left off that list all together. Chara is guilty of nothing more than sharing in a special moment with a friend, hardly something to get up in arms over. But, it calls to mind an issue that is all too common in sports media, that being an unfair expectation of athletes’ personal lives. By that, I am referring to critique of an athlete’s character that have zero consequence on his or her performance. Consider the actions of Tyler Seguin during the first round of the 2013 NHL playoffs. Seguin, who’s paid handsomely to produce, was unable to live up to fairly lofty expectations. Staying out late probably had something to do with that. This represents a case where a player’s personal life was relevant to the team. Meanwhile, back in February, Chris Gasper, columnist for the Boston Globe, wrote a piece on the partying ways of the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski. Gasper was incensed by Gronkowski getting loose in a nightclub two weeks after the end of his season. In his brief time in New England, Gronkowski’s off-field behavior has become the stuff of legend. But so, too, have his athletic feats and there is absolutely nothing to suggest that Gronkowski’s recreational activities have had any negative impact on him. In fact, in that very same column, Gasper, himself, says “No one in Fort Foxborough questions Gronkowski’s work ethic or commitment to football.” While the article’s premise seemed a little bit of a stretch considering the information Gasper presented, he took the unfair criticism to the next level by saying “If Gronkowski puts himself in a situation in which there is drunk driving, drug use, physical violence, or allegations of sexual misconduct, the team won’t be so understanding of him…” If. As we’re all now aware in the wake of Aaron Hernandez, that is true – the team has no tolerance for those types of actions, so we’re in agreement on that. But why did he make that jump? It would seem a bit of a stretch to just throw those things out there without any basis. It’s also worth noting that Gronkowski’s actions are not extreme for a 23-year-old, professional athlete or not. I’m not opposed to reporting on an athlete’s personal life, but if it’s to criticize, it should concern his or her performance. These sorts of examples evoke the view that an athlete’s life should revolve around his or her sport and avoid all “distractions” – even ones as trivial as a photograph, which I consider extremely unfair. Athletes have every detail of their play analyzed, sometimes overanalyzed. Their personal lives don’t merit the same coverage. By Sean Hathaway, SM& Account Coordinator