Sexual Assault and College Athletics

Baylor University, Vanderbilt University, and The University of Tennessee. These high profile universities are highly regarded and well known for their academic as well as athletic achievements throughout their lifetimes.

But more recently, these schools have been thrown into a more negative light, regarding the treatment of women on their campuses. Multiple reports have come out in recent years regarding the sexual assault of women by student athletes.

Vanderbilt University was enjoying a very successful era for their football program, something that is not very common for the school. Head Coach James Franklin was accomplishing what had not been done in decades for the football program. But at what cost?

In June of 2013, a woman was drugged and raped by four football players, each taking turns, and one video taping the whole incident. They were dismissed from the team and later arrested and charged with aggravated rape among other charges. They all are on trial awaiting prosecution.

Recently, a lawsuit has been filed against Baylor University for, “not [taking] any action whatsoever to investigate,” her sexual assault claim as a freshman, according to sportingnews.com. She claims the school did not offer her academic support, as her grades suffered and eventually was on academic probation and lost her scholarship. She left Baylor in 2013.

In late 2014, Michael Williams and A.J. Johnson, football players for the University of Tennessee, were charged with aggravated rape of a female student. The university has also had some negative light shed on it in the past 3 or 4 months.

Eight Jane Does filed a lawsuit against the university in February, 7 of which claiming to have been sexually assaulted by student athletes, and that the university promoted a culture of tolerance towards student athletes alleged of sexual assault. Incidents listed in the lawsuit consist of a timeline dating back to an incident involving Peyton Manning mooning a trainer in 1997, up to as recently as February of this year.

I do not mean to debate the truthfulness of these claims in this post, rather to discuss these occurrences from a different angle: Why? Why so many incidents in the previous years involving student athletes and sexual assault?

Once again, I don’t want to presume innocence or guilt to the accused unless a ruling has been given in a court of law. So I will try to present this in the most unbiased way possible.

As a fan of the University of Tennessee athletic program, it is my initial reaction to want to defend the student athlete of my school, because I don’t want to believe that the people I root for and support assault women. As Dr. Clair Walsh, former director of the sexual assault recovery program at the University of Florida said,“The entire group will fall behind the accused and deny an offense has been committed. The entire community associated with this group will come to its defense. In every single case they will deny there was gang rape but that there was group sex.” However, one had to admit, with so many claims there has to be some merit.

So why is there a correlation between college athletes and sexual assault? Some would argue the players feel a sense of entitlement and feel like they are untouchable, which would arise from being star athletes their entire life and getting typically whatever they want. Ken Dryden, a Hall of Fame NHL goalie and now lawyer stated, “It’s really a sense of power that comes from specialness … anyone who finds himself at the center of the world [he’s] in has a sense of impunity.”

I found a couple really good articles that talk some more about this topic, one at pact5.org and one at nytimes.com. To sum them up, there are multiple reasons athletes commit sexual assault, ranging from peer pressure, to the way women are viewed in our society, as rewards or trophies.

As for me, I am ashamed of the way our society is headed. Chivalry and respect for women sometimes feels like it is completely gone from society, and it is so sad to see our morals crumble. Assuming that just even some of the allegations are true, we see so many lives effected and people, real people, who are victims of rape and other sexual crimes, suffer.

So what now? What can we do about these issues that face us now? From my experience, those who have influenced me in my life have set examples on how to live and how to act. We all have circles of influence in our own lives, we have people that look up to and respect us, and we can use our examples of making the right decisions and treating others with respect to help others see a better, more moral way.

I know this is just a humble opinion of a college student in Idaho, just one of 8 billion voices in the world, but this is an issue that means a lot to me, and I hope maybe something I have said can help make somebody better, or make the difference in one life. Thank you all for reading, pass it on to others.

Golden State OK without Curry

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Travis Hughes, I am from Knoxville, TN and I love sports. I will be devoting this blog to sports and big stories within the world of sports.

This past week the Golden State Warriors finished off the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs winning the series 4-1. This was an expected result, but what the sports world wasn’t expecting was that the Warriors would be without their superstar Steph Curry most of the series.

Curry went down in the first half of Game 1 with a minor ankle sprain and was out for the next 2 games. Although after winning the first game, the Warriors seemed to miss Curry in his absence, going 1-1 while he was injured.

Curry returned in Game 4 and, while still not having the greatest night, led Golden State to a solid performance in the first half. However, as the half was winding down, Curry slipped on a wet spot on the court and he fell to the court clutching his knee.

The Warriors ended up winning the game, but feared the worst for their superstar point guard. The day after the game Curry had an MRI revealing a grade one knee sprain, an injury that takes 2-4 weeks to recover from. Golden State could breathe a sigh of relief, similar situations have led to major ligament tears in the knee, which could take up to a year to recover from.

However, without Curry, many wondered, including me, if the Warriors could make it 2 weeks without being eliminated from the playoffs without their leader on the court. Curry, in the midst of all the questions, came forward and said, “I slipped. I fell. I’m hurt. My team is awesome. The end,” according to the sports journal, displaying his confidence in his team. But was that confidence deserved?

On Wednesday night the Rockets went to California facing elimination at the hands of the Warriors, who had no Steph Curry, having an opportunity to upset arguably the greatest team in NBA history. They had no shortage of motivation.

How did Golden State respond to losing their star? They only responded with a 33 point drubbing of the Rockets in a 114-81 victory. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson stepped up in a huge way for Golden State, raining 3 point shots all day over the Rockets defense.

Golden State is figuring out how to play without their star player. According to espn.com, during the regular season without Curry, the Warriors were -140 in point differential. In the playoffs, they are +66.

The Warriors are learning to do what few teams can. We saw this when LeBron James left Cleveland to go to Miami. Cleveland went from contending for NBA titles to the worst team in the league.

Now don’t get me wrong, Steph Curry will be missed in many ways, he has the purest jumpshot in the NBA and has amazing playmaking skills. However, if the Warriors continue to play at the same high level without him, they can still beat most teams in the playoffs.

In any case, the Warriors have been and will continue to be one of the most fun teams to watch in the NBA and win or lose, they will always be remembered for their accomplishments this season.

First blog post

Hi my name is Travis Hughes. I am 20 years old and I am attending BYU-Idaho. I set this blog up for a class and I mainly wanted to focus on sports, considering I am a communication major and want to go into sports writing or broadcasting. I have always loved sports and I want to work in that field because I know it is something that I will enjoy and have passion for.