Criminals in Collegiate and Professional Sports These days, professional and collegiate athletes get away with varying criminal acts with minimal consequences. There has been an increase in criminal activity among collegiate and professional sporting organizations with no let-up in the near future. Many of these athletes believe that their money and fame can get them out of anything. Society as a whole needs to start getting tougher on these criminals to show our young people that absolutely no one is above the law. After all, didn’t god create everyone equal?
The athletes of this era and their criminal histories seem never-ending. Even the most popular and beloved athletes of this age have been caught up in some sort of nonsense. These violations vary from petty theft to first-degree murder. While many of these cases are highly-publicized, their convictions usually don’t amount to more than a slap on the wrist. Michael Vick, the former quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons was recently released from prison on convictions of dog fighting. He was found to have raised and fought pit bulls on his property at his million dollar home in Virginia.
These dogs fought until death while gamblers bet high stakes on the survivors. The maximum sentence for this type of crime is five years in a federal penitentiary for an average citizen. Instead, Vick made a public apology for his crimes and was only sentenced to 23 months in prison, less than half the maximum sentence. Vick’s sentence was later reduced to 12 to 18 months when he agreed to take classes that amplified his wrong-doing. “We’ve given athletes the impression that they’re awful, awful special,” says Art Taylor of Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. We’ve given them no limits. ” Michael Vick is currently on house arrest and awaiting his possible return to the National Football League. Perhaps the most well known case in sports history was that of O. J. Simpson, who was accused of the murders of his ex-wife and her friend Ronald Goldman. This was said to be the most publicized criminal trial ever. The sentence for murder of the first-degree is 25 years to life in prison or in some cases the death penalty. Simpson pleaded not guilty to both murders and after a media circus trial, he was found not guilty by the jurors.
Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at University of Central Florida states, “What we’ve seen since then is about 100 athletes a year, on average, arrested for violence against a woman and 75 for some form of recreational drugs. So roughly three times a week, you pick up a paper or watch TV, see something like that, and it creates an impression in people’s minds that there’s a pattern. ” Still to this day people cannot accept the fact that Simpson remained a free man after such incriminating evidence.
The New York Giants Super Bowl receiver Plaxico Burress also got himself into trouble after carrying a concealed weapon into a sprawling night club in Manhattan. The firearm was accidentally discharged while in his waistband and he shot himself in the thigh on a crowded dance floor. Burress was charged with criminal possession of a weapon witch carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, he was given only three and a half. Donte Stallworth, a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns was out late partying in Miami when on his way home he struck and killed a 59 year old man crossing the street to catch a bus.
Stallworth was driving his Bentley at 7 a. m. last March with an illegal blood alcohol level that has not yet been released. The investigation has not yet been completed but if convicted on all charges he could be looking at 4 to 15 years in state prison. Not only are professional athletes role models for little kids, student-athletes look up to them also. This is not good at all for universities when their student’s role models are committing murders, drunk driving, and carrying weapons into nightclubs. This aspect of the professional world is now beginning to crossover into the collegiate world.
With more students on school teams than athletes on professional teams, the numbers are bound to stack up. Researcher Gil Fried of the University of Houston says “Unchecked student-athlete conduct represents a serious threat to campus safety … ” Another factor is maturity, when an 18 year old kid joins a team it is just one aspect of his life. When a 30 year old man joins a team, it is his whole life and he realizes the enormous potential risk of each decision he makes. To an 18 year old, every decision is based on what is right for now without considering the outcomes later.
In March of 2006, the entire Duke lacrosse team was investigated when two strippers falsely accused three players of drugging and raping them at a party off the Duke University campus. The accusations came as a shock to the nation as the Duke lacrosse team had been ranked number one in the NCAA the prior year. North Carolina Attorney Roy Cooper dropped all the charges and declared the three players innocent. This was too late; however, because the coach had been forced to resign and the lacrosse season was suspended just a month after the accusations were made.
Marcus Vick, the former quarterback of the Virginia Tech Hokies, is the younger brother of suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Mike Vick. Though this might not come as a shock, he was suspended the entire 2004 football season due to two criminal convictions. Reinstated in 2005, Vick was involved in multiple highly-publicized incidents during the 2005 season including a middle finger to the crowd and viciously stomping the leg of an opponent, now known as “the gator stomp”.
He was dismissed early in the 2006 season and his troubles continued when he pulled a gun on a group of people in his hometown of Newport, Virginia. More recently, in May of 2009, three student-athletes at Central Connecticut State University were charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, reckless burning, first-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace after allegedly tying several dorm doors shut and setting the smoke alarms off. The self-described “harmless prank” caught the attention of firefighters at 3 a. m. n a Monday morning, they arrived to find several bags of charred popcorn in a microwave. Bill Curry, the former head football coach at Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky states, “Are athletes running roughshod over our campuses, or are they just part of a wider problem? Nobody really knows the answer. ” These football players were put on interim suspension and their case is still pending. Crimes committed by these highly skilled and popular athletes are broadcasted everywhere within hours. These people are role models for so many individuals and looked up to by young and old alike.
For reasons unknown, many superstars still seem to find themselves in a heap of trouble knowing that they are jeopardizing not only their careers but the lives of those around them. All that matters to them is their bank accounts and the fact that they can afford the best lawyers around. In many cases, the athlete’s egotistical attitude is their own downfall when their attitudes leave the playing field and enter the real world. Violent sports can lead to violent behavior and built up aggression. Nobody will doubt the strength of a professional athlete; and nobody will test it either.
It’s time to put a stop to all of the nonsense before it gets out of control. Works Cited “Crime and College Athletes over the Edge or over reported? ” The Seattle Times. Seattle, WA ( March 2, 1997): Student Resource Center – gold. Gale LNOCA Mentor High School 31 Mar. 2009 http://find. galegroup. com/ips/start. do? prodld=IPS. Jacko, Ed. “College Football: Crime and… Non-Punishment? | Bleacher Report. ” The Web’s best destination for sports community, news, opinion, photos, and more | Bleacher Report. 04 June 2009 .
Loury, Glen, C. “The New Untouchables: Crime, Punishment, and Race in America (racial disparity in prison and offenders. )” UN Chronicle 44. 3 (sept 2007): 53(3) Student Resource Center – Gold. Gale LNOCA Mentor High School 31 Mar. 2009 http://find. galegroup. com/ips/start. do? prodld=IPS. Young, Cathy. “Kobe’s rights; rape, justice, and double standards. ” reason 35. 8 ( Jan 2004): 22(2) Student Resource Center – Gold. Gale LNOCA – Mentor High School 31 Mar. 09 http://find. galegroup. com/ips/start. do? prodld=IPS7.