There is no evidence that definitely proves playing sports makes athletes more prone to violence toward women than the rest of the population. But there are some statistics that do highlight some alarming trends involving male athletes.
In 2010, Jeff Benedict, an English professor at Southern Virginia University who has written extensively about athletes and crime, released a thorough examination of arrests for professional and college athletes during a sixth-month span.
There were 125 athletes arrested during that period, including 70 college football players. Domestic violence cases accounted for nearly 20 percent of the total.
Even more disturbing than some of the crimes committed was how some athletes were punished. At Oregon, LaMichael James was charged with menacing, attempting strangulation and assault after an altercation with a former girlfriend. The case eventually was resolved with James pleading guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge. He was suspended only one game, and although he was sentenced to 10 days in jail, he never did any jail time.
If some cases are being handled like that, we can’t be surprised if violence toward women continues to escalate, or the fact that so much of the violence goes unreported. And even if you believe violent crimes committed by athletes aren’t more of an issue than those committed by the general population, there is research that shows the conviction rate for athletes is drastically different.
The National Coalition Against Violent Athletes cites a 1995 study that found that people in the general population accused of assault were convicted 80 percent of the time while athletes facing similar charges were only convicted 38 percent of the time.