End the absurd amount of sexual violence by football players.

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I was fortunate enough to grow up with my father as a high school football coach. While this meant many hours spent away from my dad due to the extensive hours he spent preparing his team, I also had the opportunity to attend practice every single day and take in all I could. This phase of my life led to me absolutely idolizing football players. In my mind, football players represented all that was good in this world. They were tough yet intelligent, physically dominant on the field yet gentle and respectful off of it. There was nothing my brother and I looked forward to more than when we would get out of school and help out at practice. In a small town that was crazy about high school football, these players were local celebrities. They showed dedication and drive that was indescribable. We watched their every move in detail as kids hoping one day to be just like them. They always carried themselves with such grace that it was hard not to want to emulate. Football players were young men of high character who were held to a high standard in the community, and during my childhood I was under the notion that they lived up to it in every sense.


Unfortunately, my conviction was not a reality. Football players are not given the depiction in the media that my six year old self would have given them. The worst part of all? Deservedly so. As I got older and began to consume more media, it became increasingly frequent that headlines showed the ugly side of football. Sexual assault, domestic violence, and rape accusations of football players began to command newspaper headlines. Players like Ben Roethlisberger, Jameis Winston and Darren Sharper, as well as programs like Michigan State University, Baylor University, and Steubenville (Ohio) High School came into the national media spotlight for reasons unrelated to wins or losses.


For me, finding out that football players were capable of such heinous crimes was comparable to finding out Superman himself was a criminal. This is an issue that affects everyone. Not just players, not just coaches, and not just fans of football feel the impact of sexual violence. We all have mothers and some of us are lucky enough to have sisters. We all understand what rape is and why it is wrong. We all are capable of exercising better judgement. Football players continue to senselessly ruin their reputation as a whole as well as their futures as individuals because of these horrific crimes. Because of these selfish and weak crimes, there have been horrific stereotypes created. People have painted football players to be malicious woman-hitters and rapists. and the most disheartening part is that the media is correct in saying these things. There have been thousands of examples for writers to build their opinions around.


Sexual violence by football players has given a black eye to the sport as a whole. This trend of disgrace has gone on long enough, and it is time for this era embarrassment to cease. Together, we can put an end to sexual violence. This is not a lost cause. This is not an issue in which there can never be change. Through exercising better judgement and acumen, we can end the stigma surrounding football players by ending sexual violence as a whole. Mikey will be heading to Holy Cross next year and have the opportunity to live the dream that is playing football at the Division One level and attending a great school. He will then have a voice as a collegiate athlete. This is a group that is unfortunately represented extremely well in the film The Hunting Ground. I aspire to be in a similar position to my friend Mikey this time next year, heading off to play football at a school that will be a great fit for me. We hope to use the opportunities that we are fortunate enough to have been given in our lives to spread our idea- that it is time to end sexual violence by football players and the stigma surrounding it.

 



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