In high schools and colleges popular portrayals make male athletes out to be strong, powerful… and invincible? The worst part is that lots and lots of misogynistic males buy into this hero-worship and view becoming an athlete as a lifestyle. This dynamic is demonstrated in high schools where the teenage jocks are at the “coolest” parties and only hang out with the other athletes. It is demonstrated when college guys won’t let go of letterman jackets because they cannot be defined by anything else. Being a jock becomes a lifestyle on an entirely different level when athletes go “pro”. None of this is to say that sports are destructive or that an athlete does not have a valid, constructive career. It is to say that males who are portrayed as physically superior, stronger, and more important than the rest of us, they are often prone to abusing their strength and power.
The National Coalition Against Violent Athletes states that:
“A 3 year study shows that while male student-athletes comprise 3.3% of the population, they represent 19% of sexual assault perpetrators and 35% of domestic violence perpetrators. (Benedict/Crosset Study)”
Former linebacker for the New York Giants and current member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Lawrence Taylor, has been charged with third degree rape of a 16 year-old girl, who he allegedly solicited for prostitution. The girl was reported missing from her home in the Bronx, New York in March. Since then she had been living at a location arranged by her pimp who also arranged the alleged sexual encounter with Taylor. The girl is my age. In the past months, she’s been trafficked, drugged and abused. She’s traumatized. At that age (or any age), who wouldn’t be? The black eye she had when she was found can’t be linked to Taylor or the traficker. Taylor told police that she had the bruises when she got to him… As if that really makes things better. He simply paid for sex with the abused and under-aged girl without concern for the obvious danger of her situation. So, even if he did not hit her, so what.
I think its bad enough that young kids look up to celebrities as heroes and role models due to the publicity and money they get. But for the same role models to commit seriously inhumane crimes is a demonstration of utter irresponsibility. Titles and fame and media attention should come with a much higher expectation for decency. Sports fans and media consumers should demand it.