Socioeconomic divide abused by athletes

By Stephanie Lingenfelter
Editor in Chief

The United States Pledge of Allegiance has been around since 1892 and was adopted by Congress in 1945, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, but too many blindly recite it without thinking about the words and the meaning. The last line stating, “liberty and justice for all,” is being forgotten, with all the professional athletes committing crimes and receiving lower charges because they have money and talent. According to FiveThirtyEight, those with higher incomes have lower rates of arrest for crimes, showing a socioeconomic divide that is increasing at a greater rate now because of professional athletes getting away with crimes. 3.8 percent of NBA and 2.3 percent of NFL players commit a crime yearly, according to RealGM.

According to Forbes, NFL players make, on average, $1.9 million in a year, NBA players make $5.15 million, NHL players make $2.4 million and MLB players make $3.2 million, while the median yearly income for Hoosiers is at a measly $46,242 in comparison. The professional athletes bring in enough money that they can easily give thousands of dollars to dismiss criminal charges. For example, if they were caught driving under the influence, One DUI shows that they would just have to pay $10,000 on average. To someone who brings in millions yearly, $10,000 isn’t much, while someone living on a teacher’s salary would have to pay for years, greatly impacting their way of life. Athletes are more likely to commit crimes, endangering themselves and others, because of the less severe repercussions. They can pay for most problems to go away. For example, according to the Sportster, Cleveland Browns wide receiver at the time Donte Stallworth killed a man while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He got away with only 24 days in jail and paid the family an un-released amount. According to attorneys.com, the typical charge for involuntary manslaughter is a 10 to 16 month sentence that increases depending upon the degree of reckless misconduct. Instead of serving the typical sentence, he was able to pay himself out of more serious, life impacting punishment. Justice isn’t being served if money allows people to get out of consequences that others must fully face.

According to USA Today, 874 NFL players have been arrested since 2000, at least the ones documented. There is a huge range of crimes from murder to DUI, but almost all the NFL players sentenced were given the minimum punishment or even less because they paid for it to go away. For example, New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor pleaded guilty to raping a 16 year old girl, but then the jury determined the girl pushed herself on him and he was only given 6 years probation. Taylor is considered a very talented player, according to ESPN, so his money and talent allowed him to get away with little punishment in comparison to the normal punishment. Another example is Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones. He was with friends at a nightclub in Las Vegas and got angry when one of the dancers started picking up the dollars they were throwing, so he punched the dancer and pushed her head against the floor. He should’ve been charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, drug possession, resisting arrest, vandalism and assault, but Jones was just suspended from the NFL for a year and received no jail time.

Children are looking up to these professional players and what they’re learning is having money gives you special privileges, which is against everything the United States represents. Allowing athletes to get away with murder, rape, harming others and numerous other crimes doesn’t promote equality at all. Just because athletes make a lot of money and bring in money doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be punished for their bad choices. Financial status should not determine someone’s criminal charge.

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