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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Matthew Kleist

Column: Steubenville case exposes worst in athletes’ arrogance

The Steubenville rape trial, and Sunday’s verdict, has shed some light on the out-of-control direction which athletics in this country seem to be heading.

The conviction and sentencing of Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond is just another in a line of high-profile cases involving the sexual assault of a woman by athletes.

It continues to confuse me why athletes think they can commit these acts and get away with them. Is it just because they are athletes? Do they believe themselves above the law?

While I have failed to discover the underlying reason as to why athletes view themselves where they can do no harm, we as a society have empowered them to do so.

A 2003 USA Today article reported there was a 32 percent conviction rate of resolved sexual assault cases involving an athlete. I understand this statistic may be misleading. Some of those cases may have been false accusations or had an extreme lack of evidence, things that happen often. However, this is still a shockingly low percentage.

If an athlete takes a look at this number, they may start to think there is such a small chance of being convicted and there is nothing to worry about. And that is a problem.

Following Sunday’s verdict, Yahoo! Sports reporter Dan Wetzel wrote of the Steubenville case, “Put in the spotlight was the local football team, which, critics said, allowed players to brazenly operate seemingly above the law for years. Social-media accounts, self-made videos, photos and classless text messages exposed an entire world that seemed like a Hollywood script of a high school team out of control.”

Wetzel’s words here strike at the very issue with sports culture in the United States. He wrote of the arrogance of athletes, in this case on the part of Mays, Richmond and everyone who turned a blind eye that night.

I couldn’t agree more.

The details of the case are horrifying. There are accounts of people failing to assist the victim prior to and during the crime. One friend of Mays and Richmond even testified saying he walked in on the act but did nothing about it, he just left.

I am appalled at the level of indecency among these young men, young men who are so idolized by locals to the point where many adults even supply the indecency in the form of alcohol.

Our society and everyone in it, including you and me, are to blame for what happened to the victim that night. Not only has her life been destroyed in a way I could never imagine, two other people’s lives will never be the same again.

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The Steubenville case is one the authorities handled perfectly and got right. However, there are countless similar cases every year that go unreported. Even of those that do get reported, two-thirds do not lead to convictions.

Society has allowed athletes to develop a mindset of superiority, making them believe they are above the law. As we saw in the Steubenville case, this leads to an unmatched arrogance and sadly, one more young woman has become a victim because of that.

What do you think about athletes and thier supposed arrogance? Let Matt know what you think by emailing him at sports@dailycardinal.com.

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