October 26, 2014
Final AIR Sports have always played a major role in society and are often what we surround our lives with. From Monday Night Football to March Madness Basketball tournaments, sports has established themselves to be apart of our everyday lives. Because our society is constantly wrapped around sports through competitions, commercials and advertisements, we get the opportunity to observe the actions made by professional athletes, on and off the field. Athletes’ decisions, especially off the field, are magnified on social media and the public can see the consequences athletes face. It has become a trending phenomenon of whether or not professional athletes face unfair advantages in legal court cases. There is clear evidence that supports professional athletes having reduced charges and advantages in legal matters.
From the article “Criminal Athletes: An Analysis of Charges, Reduced Charges and Sentences” by Otto, he closely examines the outcomes of several different legal cases involving athletes. In July of 2008, ESPN’s broadcasting talk show “Outside the Lines” declared that 46 of Penn State’s football players had been charged with 163 crimes since 2002. Yet, only 27 of those players were convicted of or pleaded guilty to 45 charges. In December 2007, the University of Colorado at Boulder paid off 2 former female students $2.85 million who allegedly got raped by high school recruits. From 1986-1996, over 425 professionally athletes openly testified for violent crimes against women, in which less than half were convicted (Otto 67). Sociologists claim that sports is a microcosm of society, which means the behavior displayed by athletes reflects directly on society. This article focuses on reviewing professional and collegiate level athletes criminal charges such as “charge”, “reduced charge” and “sentence” (Otto 71).
Overall, athletes were given 144 crime charges, received 71 reduced charges and 160 sentences. The 74% of those athletes received reduced charges. Less than 44% of the athletes received some form of prison or jail time as a punishment of their crime they committed (Otto 73).
There are several different examples of professional athletes that have received an advantageous edge in legal crime court cases. In the National Football League, Mike Vick and Ray Lewis both got reduced charges in two separate federal offenses. In January of 2007, Mike Vick got a 23-month sentence for dog fighting. His charges were originally much smaller, but because he lied about killing unproductive pit bulls, Vick received the regular full amount of charges. In January of 2000, Ray Lewis was charged with the murder relating to the two stabbing deaths outside of a nightclub. In the end, the charges were eventually dropped because Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and was only placed on probation for the remainder of a year. In the National Basketball Association, there is one main example of reduced charges that took place in November of 2004. Following an on court conflict that led to a fight between Detroit Pistons’ player, Ben Wallace, and Indiana Pacers’ Ron Artest, a fan flung a beverage towards Ron Artest which landed on his chest. Ron Artest responded by sprinting up into stands swinging at fans in the direction of where the drink came from. Other players joined in with Artest’s original response and created a massive brawl between the players and the fans at the arena. The scuffle between the players and fans reflected poorly on the NBA, and the NBA was expected to fix the poor image the fight it gave them. The NBA suspended Artest for remainder of the season as well as a small suspension for his teammates involved. The fans noticed the minimal punishment the NBA gave the athletes, and responded by taking them to court because it wasn’t enough of a punishment in their eyes. Although the fans took them to court, the players pleaded not guilty to the