Columbus Criminal Attorney Surveys Sports and Physical Abuse
As more news stories break, could there be a link between athletics and abuse?
The deafening roar of the crowd. The satisfying sound of colliding helmets. The heart-stopping jubilation of watching your favorite team score in the nick of time.
Almost everyone can appreciate an exciting football game, but while the audience cheers and applauds the ferocity on the field, a different, more tragic form of violence is happening off the field.
Over the past few months, the biggest story about an NFL player wasn’t a game winning touchdown or a hot new rookie. It was the story about Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice being released from his contract after security footage of him striking his then-fiancée Janay Palmer became public. Rice was charged with third-degree aggravated assault and was suspended indefinitely from the NFL for his actions.
Another recent story saw Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson charged with reckless injury to a child. Peterson was accused of using a branch from a tree to discipline his four-year-old son, which caused cuts and bruises to the child’s back and legs.
While the actions of these professional athletes have garnered a lot of media attention, the same type of physical abuse cases are being reported around sports figures at the college and high school levels, as well.
Last month, Westerville South football coach Rocky Pentello was arrested on charges of assault and child endangerment after several students witnessed Pentello shove a player to the ground and slap him in the face. Pentello is currently suspended on paid administrative leave.
When a child is the victim of physical striking, verbal abuse, or threats, that crime can be charged as domestic violence. This is what Peterson and Pentello were both charged with. Pentello was also charged with child endangerment, as other students witnessed him commit the crime.
Rice, on the other hand, was charged with aggravated assault. Because the victim was his fiancée, it was also categorized as a form of domestic violence.
Why is it happening?
There does appear to be a link between sports and violence. A three year study revealed that, while male student-athletes account for about three percent of the college campus population, they are responsible for 19 percent of the sexual assaults and 35 percent of the domestic assaults committed on college campuses. In fact, the study revealed that as many as 1 out of 3 sexual assaults that occur in college are committed by athletes.
There are several theories as to why athletes appear to be more prone to domestic abuse than average. For one, players and coaches are under heavy pressure to perform and succeed. If an athlete doesn’t perform well, they may end up benched, or not playing as often. If the players don’t win, the coach’s reputation is damaged. If the team’s not winning enough games, the school board or team owner may have the coach replaced.
Other sources speculate that repeated use of violence and intimidation on the playing field conditions players to use the same tactics in everyday life.
This doesn’t mean that all athletes are violent. In fact, the crime rate within the NFL is actually much lower than the national average. However, whenever a professional athlete commits a crime, the headlines are much bigger.
Consult a Columbus criminal defense attorney
While the cases mentioned above may seem cut and dry, it doesn’t mean that every assault charge is black and white. There are two sides to every story.
If you’ve been charged with assault or aggravated assault, contact the professional criminal attorneys at Yavitch & Palmer. We’ll listen you your account of the events, and comb through every detail of your case to get your charges minimized or dismissed entirely.