On May 24, 2016 my beloved university was yet again making headline news. It was not for one of the fastest offenses in college football. It was not for leading the nation in offensive passing yards. It was for the firing of our school President Ken Starr after countless sexual assault and violent assault allegations have surfaced regarding the Baylor football program.
Mug shot after mug shot of some of the campus’ greatest athletes occupy the front page of papers and are being smeared and plastered over the nightly news. Stories like these are becoming more and more “popular,” if you will, amongst the sports culture. This behavior is becoming “customary” amongst the sports culture. Women are viewed more as tangible objects than they are as human beings.
A jersey does not make you invincible. Selling out a stadium does not place you above the law. So, what messages are sending to athletes? Is that just because you are praised, your status makes you untouchable? However, this is not just society’s mistake. The very entity created to govern sports (NCAA) picks and chooses when they decide to enforce rules and regulations. Where is the uniformity?
Everyone by now is familiar with the sexual assault allegations and theft allegations surrounding Jameis Winston when he was starting QB at Florida State University. Winston, seen as a god amongst men, was allowed to keep all awards, his Hesiman and other honors he received, even after it was found that the university, the athletic department and the local police department were aware of all the allegations, yet still took no further action and attempted to cover it all up. Which by the way is and was in violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. On the other hand, Reggie Bush was found to have received monetary gifts while a player at USC and was stripped of his championships and his Heisman. Both gentleman violated the terms and conditions of the NCAA contract they signed, but only one [technically] broke the law. However, that was not the individual penalized or punished.
Do I think the President should have been the only individual to lose his job? Not at all…especially when the cover up was a “team effort.” And it’s hard to fix something that was most likely hidden from you as well. In all actuality it’s a game of politics. The most powerful position you can hold at a major university is the head of a successful football program. The board of regents or trustees will wipe out an entire administration before letting go of their revenue generators. For example, of the over $200 million Alabama brings in annually, more than $150 million of it comes from just the football program. Power is money and athletics bring in the money.
So, again what message are we sending to athletes and those that aspire to play? Here is another issue college programs fail to realize, what they are doing on a college level is breeding what we read about on the professional level. Ray Rice most likely did not just begin exhibiting this behavior once he got drafted. Aaron Hernandez was not new to the game…OJ Simpson paved the way for him (yeah I said it, we all know OJ did it). Players being arrested for violence against their spouses; habitual behavior that was most likely covered up in the past. These problems do not just happen once they reach the NFL…remember old habits are hard to break. If teams are really worried about their image, they would realize the problems begin while they are scouting on a college level.
Apparently there is a new rule to where if you have been convicted of a felony, you are out of the combine, I think it’s about damn time. Why would any franchise want to filter in someone who would tarnish the reputation of not only their individual organizations but the NFL or NBA as a whole? Common sense would tell you, that whether you intend to be in the spotlight or not, your actions are magnified the second you sign that professional contract. Common sense would tell you, the minute your team starts winning on a national level, the actions of the ENTIRE program are magnified. But common sense ain’t so common.
Do I feel the athletes are entirely to blame? No. Especially with regard to aggression and sexual violence against women. Just look at the Louisville basketball program issue going on currently. The coaches hired escorts and prostitutes to recruit players. Most recruits are around 17 years old. I’m not going to get overly scientific, but the brain does not fully mature until around 25. So you are showing young men, at an impressionable age, this is what women are for. If you play, this is what you can “expect.” Not fulfilling expectations, being told “no” is what leads to these reoccurring headlines.
A number on your back does not make you untouchable. Just because you are adored by many does not mean you do not need to be held accountable for your actions regardless of how effed up they may be. Players and programs needs to do some serious soul-searching. What they are creating is an epidemic that’s spreading faster than they can contain.