Monday, June 11, 2012

A Disturbing Trend in College Athletics

This weekend in Auburn, a social function where college athletes were present turned violent resulting in 3 deaths and 1 person in critical condition. Two of the deaths were former Auburn football players and one current player was shot in the hip. This scene was similar to the death of UCONN Football Player Jasper Howard who was murdered at a party in 2009 after a UCONN game. Three Southern Miss Football Players were shot at a pool hall in 2010 hours after playing a game. Martez Smith was paralyzed as a result of this incident. Just this spring, two Western Kentucky players were shot outside of a nightclub and recovered. These incidents are becoming way too commonplace in college athletics.

Colleges are supposed to be places of higher learning and personal growth not death and permanent injury. The easy access to firearms coupled with male bravado and alcohol have become a very dangerous combination at many parties. Most of the incidents occur because of tempers flaring after pride has been wounded. It's easy to say that one needs to walk away from an argument but when your testosterone is pumping and your judgement is clouded by either alcohol or marijuana, it's a recipe for disaster.

These young men often attend parties where other individuals are visiting the campus and have nothing to do with the university. The individual who is wanted currently by the Auburn Police Department was from Montgomery and was not attending the university. John Lomax, III murdered Jasper Howard and was not attending classes at UCONN. The man that shot the three Southern Miss Football Players was not attending Southern Miss. It's hard to control who gets into a party especially when it's a home game weekend. Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Morgantown, and many others become either the largest city or one of the largest cities in the state on gameday. The rolling in of people with ill intentions will happen because of the massive amount of people coming into these cities.

We are seeing more and more college athletes getting in trouble with the law for using or carrying firearms. In 2006, Juwan Simpson was pulled over and arrested while possessing a pistol without a license.  In 2009, 3 Tennessee football players were arrested for armed robbery in KnoxvilleAuburn had 4 players arrested in 2011 for armed robbery. Also in 2011, West Virginia linebacker Branko Busick was arrested for armed robbery. It's obvious that not only do coaches have to worry about the parties and off the field activities their players are involved in but if the players themselves will end up committing a violent crime. The worst example of this has to be in 2003 when Baylor had one of their basketball players murder another player.  There is no easy answer for how to fix these problems but I do have something that may help out a little.

Athletes only dorms have been outlawed by the NCAA. If a dorm was allowed for athletes to live in and be monitored by the coaches it could allow for less of these incidents. A strict curfew policy where athletes had to be in by a certain time at the dorm would help too. Now a lot of people will argue that it robs the "student-athlete" of a college experience and gives them special treatment. Guess what? "Student-athletes" already get special treatment and are in need of extra security. It would guarantee their safety and allow for them to avoid these incidents. It would also allow for room checks which could crack down on players carrying firearms.  It won't prevent every incident from occurring but it would damn sure cut down on them.

We are having too many young men in college die way before their time. Men and women who are in positions of power really need to think about bringing back athletic dorms as well as preventative counseling for athletes. These young men often do not think about their actions and live only in the moment. Until someone reaches these young men and shows them the dangerous path that many of them are headed on, we'll continue to have these incidents occur on a regular basis.

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