"PUBLIC HEROES, PRIVATE FELONS: Athletes and Crimes Against Women" by Jeff Benedict

"PUBLIC HEROES, PRIVATE FELONS: Athletes and Crimes Against Women"

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A sports sociologist's provocative, sometimes sensationalistic study of a phenomenon that's gaining increasing public attention. Observes Benedict, ""Because of the physical nature of athletics; the aggressive, confrontational, supermacho attitudes surrounding them; and the social approval afforded to celebrity athletes, the sports industry has in effect embraced those men who demonstrated a disdain for women through repeated acts of criminal violence."" To see the phenomenon of athletes who rape and batter from all angles, Benedict interviewed nearly 300 subjects, including groupies, victims, prosecutors, university administrators, and athletes. His findings reveal many disturbing facts and trends: how the small minority of women who make themselves available to jocks help ""to exacerbate the derogatory attitudes held by athletes""; how peer pressure creates an environment for conduct most individuals would find reprehensible; and how even when they are held accountable for their actions, athletes too often get off with minimal sentences, the matter soon forgotten by the public. More alarming still is how some women are doubly victimized--brutalized and later humiliated, as was the case with one woman who brought suit against members of the Cincinnati Bengals football team. After a court verdict favorable to the players, one of the defendants did a celebratory ""touchdown dance"" for the press. Benedict occasionally strays from his area of expertise, particularly when analyzing the psychology of individuals. However, he is dead-on when describing the group dynamics of athletes and how this camaraderie and shared sense of privilege can lead to trouble. A troubling look at how societies create and then turn a blind eye to a class of citizens who, in the words of one retired player, can't ""tell the difference [between force and consent] anymore.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1997
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Northeastern Univ.