College sports players are in some of the most envious positions on campus. Their tuitions are paid for by the university, their social status is usually cemented as popular and they get to play the games and compete in the sports they love to play.
Not to take away the pressure they feel, the grueling hours of practice they endure and some of the restrictions set upon them by their coaches, but the prospect of attending school for free, on a scholarship, would be enough for most ‘regular’ college students to straighten up and fly right.
But in the most recent allegations brought against college athletes, nine Millersville football players have been accused of sexual assault. Officials have said players leased the apartment the alleged assault occurred in. The players have been banned from football-related activities at the Division-II program.
Earlier in the year, Penn State experienced their own trials with some of their players. Six of the Nittany Lions football players, including two of their stars, got entangled with the law. One player allegedly engaged in a melee after confronting with a female. They turned themselves in.
In one of the most publicized cases, the Duke lacrosse team and their sexual assault charges were tracked by the national media. The charges were dropped and now the players are seeking financial compensation.
Then, of course, there is the case at Baylor, where things got fatal. Carlton Dotson was convicted of murdering his own teammate, Patrick Dennehy. Dotson’s collegiate, athletic and scholastic career was ended prematurely as he was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
There has to be a silver lining.
College athletes are still students, but above all, they are human. They are still subject to make mistakes and fall victims to the pitfalls in life. No one is exempt from those, no matter how physically gifted and talented the athlete may be.
A concrete reason cannot be given as to the exact reasons why these players are accused of the charges.
One can only speculate.
Maybe all of the attention and the press and the spotlight contribute to the athlete’s issues with the law.
Maybe the athlete’s upbringing is a factor.
Or maybe it is simply a place of wrong person, wrong place and wrong time. And they just happen to play football and represent their university. And have their education paid for by taxpayers.
Temple hasn’t dealt with these altercations with their athletes. Perhaps the athletes are doing their part and staying away from negative situations.
Is there a hazing element involved? Perhaps there is.
A marching band – yes, you read that right, a marching band – allegedly participated in hazing last year. The band at Wisconsin, which had 300 members at the time, was punished because, among other things, a member felt pressured to shave his head against his will.
A previous study by Alfred University reported that 80 percent of college athletes have been hazed, but the majority of the incidents go unreported.
So, maybe that is the silver lining – that silence is golden.
Terrance McNeil can be reached at Terrance.Mcneill@temple.edu.