Does Money And Notoriety Cloud Justice In Domestic Violence Cases?

We have been writing about assaults on college campuses and domestic violence for years. But have never thought seriously about the possible link between a winning sports culture in professional or college athletics and domestic violence or campus assaults.

Is there a link between a sports culture of winning and incidents of intimate partner and/or domestic violence? Do organized sports teams and leagues, from high school to the pros, adequately address this type of violence?

Let us examine some facts:

Football on any level is one of the most aggressive physically violent sports in the world. Even spectators are awestruck by the speed and violence of professional football, and college football isn’t far behind. Where do those college and professional athletes get that intensity to make those hard-driving tackles? It isn’t something that they turn on or off on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon-we can guarantee you that.

To get more information about domestic violence in general see our well thought out article titled ‘What Is The Big Deal About Domestic Violence?’ that discusses in detail what domestic abuse is and the pervasiveness of it.

Tallahassee, Florida, and Florida State University is the setting for much of this article. Jameis Winston was a prized recruit for the University and went on to win the Heisman Trophy in his freshman year. Not only that, but he led his team to a national championship. So fervor about football in Tallahassee is at a peak.

All you have to do is look at the police blotter for the last two years and you will see nine cases involving Florida State University football players giving you an idea of what we’re talking about. The cases range from players having BB gun fights and causing thousands of dollars in damage, to a theft by Mr. Winston, to domestic violence by another player, to Winston being accused of raping a student. In most of the cases no charges were brought against the students.

In one case against Winston where he was accused of raping a student, a local prosecutor decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute. In another case the same Winston steals seafood from a Publix grocery store and ends up being suspended from baseball for a short time along with a civil citation.

You may be wondering why football players and perhaps other athletes receive such preferential treatment for crimes they may have committed. Can you say MONEY?

The local economy is so dependent upon revenue from Florida State that is just a hairline fracture short of bribery.

Look at these facts:

  • The Tallahassee Police Department was paid $112,000 for directing traffic at home games.
  • The local County Tourism Bureau estimates that as much as $10 million of additional economic activity is brought to the city by home games (as many as 6).
  • An additional boon of $4.5 million in merchandise is sold.
  • Then there is the sales tax in the hundreds of thousands that goes directly to the city.
  • Local Seminole boosters, a nonprofit group, raises $264 million a year.

In short, the Florida State Seminoles football team is an economic juggernaut that provides the local economy with sustenance. To get crossways with the program is to commit suicide.

In a New York Times piece about justice in Tallahassee, domestic violence cases officers are supposed to do complete investigations including getting “written statements from witnesses and the victim, then instruct the victim on how to seek help and finally forward their report to the local domestic abuse crisis center.” In this specific case, and many others, the aggressor in the case was a Florida State football player. According to the report, none of those procedures were followed. The sergeant who filed the report signed off on it and filed it away as unfounded.

Last year there was a deeply flawed handling of the rape allegation against the quarterback, Winston, that drew attention to the institutional failures by law enforcement and Florida State itself.

In an investigation by the New York Times, they found that the treatment of the Winston complaint was typical of the way police on numerous occasions soft-pedal allegations of wrongdoing by Seminole football players. Criminal mischief, motor vehicle theft and domestic violence cases are involved with no arrests, and an investigation stalled out to allow players to escape serious consequences.

The community whose “self-image and economic well-being are so tightly bound to the fortunes of the nation’s top-ranked football team” that crimes investigated by local police often cite the fact that the perpetrators are FSU football players and charges are dismissed.

Many of those investigating officers rely on income from second jobs directing traffic or providing security, so those particular officers are tainted from the get-go.

Pro Football Stadium
Pro Football Stadium

In a recent Washington Post article it has become clear that NFL POLICY is to protect the brand over all else. According to Alex Nabaum who wrote the article, domestic violence victims who happened to be wives of NFL players are in a world where denial, secrecy and a sense of isolation abound.

It is so intense that victims of domestic violence fear that coming forward will isolate them, possibly destroy the spouse’s future as a player, ruin her husband’s career and jeopardize their children’s financial security.

Going to authorities, be at the police or a hospital mean social exclusion and more importantly negative media attention that can end your husband’s career. Which may be exactly what happens in the Ray Rice incident.

Domestic violence is an overwhelmingly huge problem in the United States with an estimated 1.3 million American women assaulted by an intimate partner each year. Only one fourth of them ever report the incidents to police.

Does Money And Notoriety Cloud Justice In Domestic Violence Cases?

We will let you decide but in the meantime if you are a victim of domestic abuse assault, you need to think about developing a plan that involves first and foremost defending yourself against an attack.


    1. The first step is to decide upfront that you need to take a stand if you are in an abusive relationship. Statistics recently revealed that women are hit 35 times before an assault is reported. When is enough, enough?
    2. Once a decision has been made that you are not going to put up with it anymore, an escape plan must be hatched that can be dependent on close friends or family. You don’t want to risk your plan being leaked to an offending spouse.
    3. You may want to learn where shelters are in your area.
    4. Have a “go kit” ready so you can make a quick exit without having to pack clothes etc. That kit should contain identification, credit cards, cash and maybe even a passport.
    5. Have an extra set of car keys hidden away for your exit.
    6. Make sure people know about your situation so it can be easily documented when necessary.
    7. Getting and knowing how to use a self-defense product that is legal in your area would be the next step. A good Women’s Pepper Spray, for example, can disable an assailant/partner for as long as 45 minutes allowing you time to escape a dangerous situation to seek help.

Dooney Bourke Pepper SprayDooney Bourke Pepper Spray

 Are you in an abusive relationship with a college or professional football player? Or are you one of the 1.3 million women who were victims of domestic abuse violence? Please share your experience. We want to hear your thoughts.