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Athletes and Abuse: Violence Off the Field

In October of this year, five California University of Pennsylvania football players were arrested for aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and other charges after severely beating a man when he tried to stop the players from harassing his girlfriend.  The 30-year-old victim suffered a traumatic brain injury and other serious injuries due to the assault.  The man also required treatment in the intensive care unit.  Witnesses to the brutal act said that the players chanted “football strong” as they left the scene.

Your Denver personal injury attorney notes that athletes who respond to challenges to or limits on their behavior with violence may be reflecting a personality that caused them to choose a violent outlet such as an aggressive sport (as opposed to the sport being the cause of the violent behavior).  However, there is definitely a correlation between athletes and violence. Statistics from the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes (NCAVA) show the following:

  • White male student athletes make up 3 percent of the population on college campuses but account for 19 percent of sexual assaults on college campuses.
  • Athletes commit 1 in 3 college sexual assaults.
  • The general population has a conviction rate of 80 percent for sexual assaults while the rate for athletes is 38 percent.
  • Domestic violence is the number one crime perpetrated by athletes. 

 Why is There a Correlation?

As mentioned above, some argue that these statistics do not make a case for violence in sports leading to violent behavior off the field.  Rather, some people would say that the type of personality drawn to aggressive and violent sports probably has a propensity to violence.  Whether this is true or not, your Denver personal injury attorney knows that those placing any personality in an environment that values aggression and violence (and often times does not give appropriate consequences for violent behavior) can be tantamount to training an athlete to become an abuser. 

Sports are highly esteemed in our culture, and athletes of all ages enjoy adulation and admiration.  This kind of attention can develop into a sense of entitlement to women and sex, as well as a level of impunity for their actions.  Coaches, schools and team owners want athletes to play and do not want embarrassment or scandal surrounding their team or school.  Therefore, there is an inherent disincentive to hold many athletes accountable for their actions. 

What Can Be Done?

Changing the culture of sports both on and off the field is necessary to decrease violence against women and violence perpetrated off the field in general.  Some would say that sports should be less violent as a whole, meaning coaches and fans should not support vicious hits, tackles, or fights.  Fans should not encourage a sense of entitlement among athletes and should hold their team’s players accountable for crimes of assault, DUI, vehicular assault, rape and any other crimes.  Athletes should not get a free pass just because fans, schools or team owners want to win the next game. 

If you would like more information regarding athletes and violence, or if you have been the victim of such violence, contact Jordan Levine at the Levine Law Firm.

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