Let me begin with two bits of information:
- If I made the rules, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson would be out of the NFL and probably both of them would be doing some time for assault and child abuse.
- I really don’t care about NFL football. My sports seasons are MLB and NHL. I watch the NFL for about 2 weeks before hockey starts. Remember, I live in St. Louis, home of one of the most irrelevant NFL teams in the league. So the long-term viability of the NFL, both locally and as an institution is pretty much meaningless to me.
That said…most of us probably didn’t bat an eyelash when we heard about the Rice KO of his then-fiancee, now-wife. After all, the conventional wisdom is that the NFL is full of criminals…wife-beaters, sexual abusers, murderers, rapists, etc. And the leftists are going to remind us of this every time some sort of offensive act occurs. But is this true?
The truth of the matter is that the rate of criminality in the NFL is lower than that of the general public. No, the NFL does not have a “violence against women problem”, or at least not one that is worse than the public in general. As Jim Picht of Communities Digital News shows us, the incidence of domestic violence by NFL players is actually around half that of the same age group in the general United States population. He cites two different studies that show similar results…one done in 1999 by Alfred Blumstein & Jeff Benedict, and another published back in July by Benjamin Morris at fivethirtyeight.com. Picht writes:
Blumstein and Benedict found that of the 342 black players in their sample, 97 of them, or 28 percent, had an arrest for one of these crimes. There were 77 whites in the sample; seven of them, or 9 percent, had an arrest
Those numbers appear high until we compare them with arrest numbers for the general population. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports provided the arrest data. For the general population, the arrest rate for assault for black men was 6,990 per 100,00, and for whites, 2,209.
The corresponding rate for NFL players, black and white, was less than half the rate for the general population.
More recently, USA Today published its USA Today NFL Arrests Database, which goes from 2000, just after the Blumstein-Benedict study, to today. Benjamin Morris at FiveThirtyEight’s DataLab used these data with the Bureau of Crime Statistics’ Arrest Data Analysis Tool to compare arrest rates for NFL players and the general population.
Morris looked only at the 25-30 age group, which most closely reflects the age of NFL players. What he found was that, again, NFL players have arrest rates far below the general population. Their arrest rates for domestic violence are half the rate of the general public, just as Blumstein and Benedict found. In addition, Morris found that NFL arrest rates for DUI were about one-fourth the general rate; for non-domestic assault, about one-sixth; for sex offenses, about one-half; and for non-violent gun-related offenses, about one-half.
Overall, arrest rates in the NFL are only 13 percent those for the general public among men aged 25 to 30.
Now one could say that the NFL player crime numbers should be far less than that even, considering the high income level of NFL players and the relatively low arrest rates for equally high incomes in the general populace. However, both studies/articles clearly demonstrate that there is not a greater incidence of criminal behavior in NFL players. In the 538 article, Morris shows that NFL player incidence of criminality is less than the general public in every single category. The facts speak for themselves: The NFL is not a hotbed of criminals, wife-beaters, child-abusers and rapists. Yes, each time one of these incidents happens, it is deplorable. But to single out the NFL and its players as an institution that must be targeted for punitive actions is just plain wrong.
But of course the Left will take any opportunity to try to stamp out allegedly patriarchal, male-dominated activities like football. Why, the NFL must pay for their discriminatory, abusive, female-excluding institutionalized sexism! And they’ll take advantage of any kind of manufactured outrage they can to do it.
Leftists (heck, everyone!): be angry about Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson as individual perps. Personally, I think they’re scumbags and we ought to lock them both up. Blame the individuals. But for crying out loud, must we be subjected to another imbecilic hashtag campaign about a virtual non-issue? The NFL isn’t the problem. Individual criminality is the problem. The NFL does not cultivate misogynistic spousal abusers. It is a violent sport but that violence is not systematically transferred to the families and friends of the players. The numbers tell the story. And the story flies in the face of the alarmism that the Left has stirred up in the wake of the recent player incidents.