Domestic Violence in Sports



Graphic courtesy of vocativ at Infographics created with (
Graphic courtesy of vocativ at
Infographics created with (
Dane McGuire
Copy Editor

Domestic violence has recently emerged as an issue affecting the world of sports.

A notable one is that of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, John “War Machine” Koppenhaver.

Koppenhaver was arrested on Aug.15 following a week-long manhunt after an assault left his former girlfriend, adult actress, Christy Mack, needing facial reconstructive surgery.

Thirty-two felony charges, including attempted murder, sexual assault, battery, coercion and lewdness could lead to Koppenhaver receiving a life sentence.

Koppenhaver may be locked up, but in the sports world in general, very little has so far been done to punish abusive athletes.

Eighty-five of the 713 arrests of National Football League (NFL) players since 2000 involved domestic violence according to a USA Today database. The athletes involved saw minimal repercussions from their employer.

The Minnesota Vikings’  A.J. Jefferson was arrested on a felony count of domestic assault by strangulation, according to CNN’s Minnesota affiliate, KARE.

A four game suspension was imposed following the incident, but lifted without explanation.

Jefferson is just one example of the multiple times when a minor reprimand was either imposed then lifted, charges were dropped and the league took no action, minimal financial damages were awarded, or nothing was done by the NFL at all.

“I believe that this is just a counter-measure to help not put a bad image on a team by one players actions,” Aaron Walton, Computer Network Security and Administration major said.

U.S. women’s soccer star, Hope Solo, was arrested this past June after an incident involving her sister and 17-year-old nephew. Solo has yet to suffer any consequences from U.S. Soccer.

The NFL is one league taking steps to address the issue by creating a new six game suspension policy for first-time domestic violence offenders and up to a lifetime ban for a second offense.

In short, there are other tales of these crimes in hockey, basketball, and baseball as well, but the real question is: Why are these athletes, these criminals, still allowed to compete?

While sports leagues have conduct codes, each code is different, and alleged offenders are innocent until proven guilty in America, so in my opinion, action should not be taken until there is a verdict in court.

Most importantly, leagues are governing bodies of a particular sport, not the criminal justice system. Still, something must be done, and the sports world is finally stepping in the right direction.

“It’s very important that we all get together and … end this terrible, terrible, silent epidemic,” Dwayne Allen of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts said to the Associated Press. “Excuse me,” Allen said, gathering his emotions. “It’s our job to step up to the plate and be those role models.”


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