Kirkus Reviews QR Code


College Football and the Politics of Rape

by Jessica Luther

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-61775-491-3
Publisher: Edge of Sports/Akashic

Investigative reporting that uncovers the rape culture surrounding college sports, particularly football.

Drawing on the sports playbook idea, where one play combined with another and another leads to a single, unified, successful act, Luther writes about the prevalence of rape and assault on college campuses as a combination of many factors. She discusses the role coaches, universities, sponsors, the police, and other authority figures play in perpetuating a subculture in which the aggressive acts of sports players, particularly gifted football stars, are often ignored because “boys will be boys.” She delves into many cases, giving graphic details from victims of the abuse, often from multiple attackers, and then discusses the lack of support for the victims, the fears they often have after the attack, and the dismissiveness of so many toward the victims, which allows the perpetrators to continue as if nothing had happened. Luther explains how many schools turn the other way when confronted with a possible assault case even though they have a legal obligation to investigate the attack under federal Title IX laws. “The idea that universities don’t care about victims is perceived to be worse whenever the accused is a high-profile athlete,” she writes, “someone the school has a serious financial and emotional stake in.” As Luther, who helped break the story about sexual assaults on the campus of Baylor University, points out, college sports (especially football) generate billions of dollars in revenue, and the idea of the game often unifies many small towns that would otherwise remain divided. Distressing to read, even more so when one learns how many college abusers have gone on to join the NFL, Luther’s research into rape on campuses is an important exposé demonstrating that the problem still lies within the male locker room. The book is particularly timely in the wake of recent allegations at Baylor and Stanford.

Highly relevant, hard-hitting, much-needed information that reveals the widespread existence of rape by sports players on college campuses.