Athletes don’t have to follow the Law

Earlier this month Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced that the city would not be filing charges against pro football player, Lesean McCoy for his role in a bar fight in February. During the brawl two off-duty police officers were injured and subsequently taken to the hospital to treat multiple fractured bones in both men. At the time of the brawl a video was released in which you can clearly see McCoy actively participating in the brawl. However, Seth Williams stated they would not be filing charges due to a “lack of evidence.” Shockingly enough, this kind of thing happens all the time. It has happened so often that it has created a culture of violence in the sporting world that goes unpunished. Athletes, pro and collegiate, have been allowed to do whatever they want, without getting punished and it needs to end. I understand that they are beloved by millions across the country and I understand that they bring in millions of dollars for their respective teams, but as an avid sports fan I feel it is ruining sports. The lack of punishment for athletes has created an environment in which they can do whatever they please with no repercussions. Eventually that is going to transfer over to impressionable people across America who think they, too, can act out violently.

Another incident in Philadelphia occurred months ago when professional basketball player Jahlil Okafor is seen fighting in the streets, punching another man after leaving a club, and it was announced that no charges would be filed against him. Last year the NFL was in turmoil when a judge dismissed domestic violence charges against Ray Rice. In the year 2014 a video emerged of Ray Rice punching his now wife so hard in the face that he knocked her unconscious, and subsequently dragging her limp body out of the elevator.  Rice was initially only suspended for TWO games even after the video was brought to light. He was then allowed to enter an intervention program for first time offenders. This program is designed for crimes that don’t involve violence and victimless crimes. A report from Outside the Lines in September revealed that the pretrial intervention program was granted in less than one percent of all domestic violence cases in New Jersey between 2010-2013. So why did Rice get granted this privilege? The answer: because he is a professional football player.

These lack of charges or lack of punishment is not simply limited to professional athletes though. The statistics of these incidents in collegiate sports are staggering. In one year in collegiate sports, Florida, had the most athletes named as suspects in crimes occurring in Gainesville — 80 in more than 100 crimes. Yet the athletes never faced charges, had charges against them dropped or were not prosecuted 56 percent of the time. When Outside the Lines examined a comparison set of cases involving college-age males in Gainesville, 28 percent of the crimes ended either without a record of charges being filed or by charges eventually being dropped. Florida State had the second-highest number of athletes named in criminal allegations: 66 men’s basketball and football athletes. In 70 percent of those incidents, the athletes never faced charges, had charges against them dropped or were not prosecuted. By comparison, cases that ended up without anyone being prosecuted only happened 50 percent of the time among a sample of crimes involving college-age males in Tallahassee that were not athletes.

This has created a culture of winning at all costs in both professional and collegiate sports. It does not matter what you do if you win games or bring in a lot of money. Athletes are able to get off on crimes and avoid criminal charges at a much higher rate than their non-athletes peers. This has created a culture of violence and law breaking in the sporting world and it must be stopped. This created a culture in which it is okay to knock your wife out, in which it is okay to publicly fight other people and to fracture the bones of others. It has become more important to win and to be an athlete than a law abiding citizen.

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