Privilege in Collegiate Sports

Tony Gutierrez, STF

By: Brianne Dempsey

If I asked you to name the first five words that come to your mind when you think of sports and its athletes, that word probably would not be one of them. Talent, rich, famous, hardworking, lucky, successful – of course, it’s the nature of the industry. What does not get mentioned are the less appealing characteristics – narcissism, arrogance, infidelity. Believing their status in society as an athlete (especially if they are a successful one) elevates them about everyone else. This amounts to privilege.

As many of you have probably already heard or read, a freshman male at a prestigious Division 1 school was recently convicted of three felony counts: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration of an unconscious person. As much as his name disgusts me, I will share it with you all, if only to spread the knowledge that this pathetic excuse of a human being is a rapist. Brock Turner is a rapist.



During his investigation, trial, and even his sentencing – much of the media would have you believe that Brock was nothing but a successful swimmer at Stanford. In one of the very first articles written about the attack on the victim (I do not know her name, yet if I did I would not share it), it goes into very graphic detail about how she was found, what the witnesses saw, what was being done to her. At the end of the article? Brock Turner’s swim times. Can someone explain to me what one has to do with the other? Does how fast he can swim translate into a predisposition (or a lack thereof from what they tried to convey) for assault? And his sentencing? An absolute joke of the justice system. Because of who he is, where he came from and what he was, Brock Turner got the ultimate slap on the wrist. Six months in a county jail for three felony counts. Do you know you can go to jail longer than that for speeding if its considered reckless driving?

Unfortunately, I know this case is not the first of its kind. Situations like this happen all over college campuses nationwide every year. And many of these students (especially the athletes) get away with it. Look at what is happening at Baylor University. Ken Starr (crazy how his fame has always come from sexual scandal) is accused of ignoring sexual violence at Baylor carried out by student athletes.

The inaction of authority in these situations has inflated the heads of these athletes so large they float above the remainder of the student body – looking down on them as if they are better than them. And the worst part is they are conditioned to think that way. All those nice things on campus – a fancy dining hall, a state of the art student gym, a brand new library – almost all of the money can be traced back to athletics in one way or another. And these athletes know that. Many, but of course not all, believe this warrants them special attention and discretion. And while it is not warranted, it is almost always granted.

The privilege of athletes on college campus, and really even at the professional level as well, is very, very real. It doesn’t start out with sexual assault. It usually starts with skipping classes or cheating on homework assignments. Missing class to travel for a game when worked out with a professor ahead of time is one thing – skipping because you know they’ll pass you anyways because of your name and scholarship is another. Standards of learning that if broken would have other students disciplined, or even expelled. Until all students, whether athlete or not, are held to the same standards across board, many of these student athletes will continue to push their boundaries. When will it stop? How far does it have to go before those blessed with the privilege of being a student athlete are held accountable for their actions?

Brianne Dempsey
About Brianne Dempsey 15 Articles
Bri is from Southern Maryland. She is a UMD alum and is a Redskins, Caps, Terps and O’s fan.

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