On July 27th, pro football linebacker Nigel Bradham, of the Philadelphia Eagles, was arrested in Miami after physically assaulting a hotel employee. According to the police report, Bradham complained to the hotel worker about the service. The incident escalated when the defendant, without provocation, struck the victim with a closed fist.
The victim, who suffered a broken nose, contusions, and a cut lip, identified Bradham from photographs shown by the police the next day. Consequently, the police charged Bradham with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony. The resolution remains undetermined, but the Philadelphia Eagles organization has stated that they have no plans to reprimand him.
Cases such as these are not rare. Since the infamous case of O.J. Simpson, hundreds of professional athletes have been accused and/or arrested on the charges of domestic violence. Furthermore, violence and assault are not unique to professional sports, but professional sports provides a distinct platform from which we can judge not only the major leagues’ reaction to violence, but also the quality of responses by the criminal justice system. John Lytle, a sophomore at Flintridge Preparatory School, commented to JSR, “I’m a sports fanatic and I frequently hear about another athlete who’s been involved in a domestic violence case. However, I only remember a few of them who were actually punished.” According to USA Today Sports, “in 2013, of the 84 arrests of professional athletes between 2000 and 2013, no NFL player received more than a one-game suspension.”
Cases of sexual assault and domestic violence continue to remain the most underreported crimes in our country for many reasons such as fear or shame. Also, when a charge is made – especially one that involves a headline-grabbing, name-brand athlete – it is either dismissed or reduced becoming another disappointing example of the league’s failures to address the problem effectively. Out of the four major sports leagues, only the NFL has a specific section of consequences related to domestic violence.
In the end, unless sports leagues and the criminal justice system start to change their regulations and issue proper punishments, it seems as though these frequent cases of domestic violence will probably continue. Whatever the solution, this problem needs to be tackled head on.