Whatever the truth is regarding recent rape allegations against members of the Duke University lacrosse team it will eventually come out. One way or the other, this incident is another example of the deterioration of the American sports culture.
Members of the Duke lacrosse team have been accused of gang rape, sodomy, and strangling by an African American exotic dancer. As yet no charges have been filed, but the 16-year team coach, Mike Pressler, has resigned, and the university president, Richard Brodhead, has cancelled the lacrosse team season.
This story has all the elements to attract national attention: sex, race, male chauvinism toward women, money, athletics, violence, alcohol abuse, titillation, it’s all here. If the allegations are true then a heinous crime has been committed against a defenseless woman. Add to this a violently threatening email written by one of the lacrosse team players who has since been suspended from school. Add to this a code of silence apparently being enacted by members of the team. Add to this the lack, so far, of any sense of moral obligation on the part of players not involved in the incident. They need to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—because it is right to do, because it will aid the victim, and because they need to protect themselves.
Years ago Charles Barkley famously said, “I ain’t no role model.” He was wrong then, and he would be wrong today. Athletes are privileged with talent, notoriety, and influence. When they use these gifts unwisely they harm us all, particularly those who are younger and look up to them.
I feel for Duke University, but when the truth is known, the guilty should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. No one should be above the law in this country, including student athletes.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006
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