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Social media is a funny thing. It allows us to foster connections we might not otherwise have made. It allows us to learn and grow and connect with people at its best. However, it also drives people to have an opinion. On everything. And they do.

Time and time again, we see people who sit behind keyboards and become instant experts on everything. A topic will be drummed up until we cannot bear one more debate. What’s important to remember is these debates are important. Though we end up frustrated, fuming, furious, we have to remember that debate leads to learning.

But there is one area I too often see a silence.

Photo credit: Yahoo! Sports
Photo credit: Yahoo! Sports

This week, we witnessed an athlete exercise his first amendment rights to sit during the national anthem. Agree or not, he is allowed and was defended by the NFL to do so. My social media feeds have been flooded with outraged and disgraced people. CNN has published an article in which Tony Stewart called Colin Kaepernick an “idiot”. Everyone is mad.

I started doing some digging. This man’s two minutes of silence caused a week of uproar.

According to Vice, 44 NFL players have been accused of at least one sex crime in 2015. Using that number, let’s break down some statistics.

  • There are more players accused of sexual assault in the NFL than there are teams in the NFL. (44 players, 32 teams)
  • Each team has 55 players each year. So we could create 80 percent of one team simply from players accused or convicted of sex crimes
  • The average athlete in the NFL earns $1.9 million per season. These athletes earn a collective amount of $83,000,000 in a season.

“So if they were REALLY rapists, why wouldn’t they be in jail?”

RAINN knows that of every 1,000 rapes, 994 rapists walk free. That’s 99.4%. Several don’t get reported, several don’t get taken seriously. Not even 1%.

“But he’s a nice/not nice person.”

Not all athletes are rapists. Some are arrogant, some are rude. Being arrogant or rude is not within the same criminal capacity as a rapist. A rapist has deliberately taken what they wanted from an innocent victim. That victim, male or female (there are reports of both), has now entered a lifetime of possible mental and physical issues that may arise. They will have to claw up from the very bottom. A rapist is a criminal. Criminals should be convicted.

“But some of them weren’t drafted after that.”

Lizzy Seeberg was an undergraduate student at Notre Dame when she was sexually assaulted by Prince Shembo. She reported her assault and her statements were taken down. Later she received a text: “Don’t do anything you would regret. Messing with notre dame [sic] football is a bad idea.”

Photo credit: Chicago Tribune
Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

Shembo admitted that he was the football player who sexually assaulted Seeberg and sent the text. He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons. Fourth round.

Later down the road, Shembo kicked and killed his girlfriend’s dog. He was waived from the team and ordered to do community service.

Seeberg is dead. 10 days after her assault she committed suicide.

Photo credit: Daily Mail
Photo credit: Daily Mail

But Shembo has no career… That’s worse, right?

There are 43 other stories I could illustrate. Stories where we talk about how there is a concept America has become okay with that as long as the player is fine in the red zone, we don’t have to pay attention to their actions outside the stadium. We can be mad about 3 minutes of silence or we could be mad about years of cover ups and lies and silence of so many victims who deserved a voice. This is just the NFL. Celebrities and athletes in other disciplines are just as guilty.

It’s time to stop defending these people because of their talent when we are condemning others for small actions. It’s time to start thinking about who we cheer for on Sundays.

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