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In college sports, amateurism fosters rape culture

Louis Moore

When college officials adopted the amateur system they created a moral dilemma. Athletics provided publicity and profit, but the players could not get paid.

For the last 120 years, schools have known that if you want the best players you have to give them something.

So, how do colleges compensate a student athlete they are not supposed to pay? In 1947, the NCAA helped colleges by developing the “sanity code” which started the process of offering academic scholarships for athletic performance.

That was one solution.

Lately, it has become abundantly clear that the expectation of sex comes with the scholarship.

Big-time college sports have created a culture where young men are expected to have access to women for wins.

From the moment student athletes step on campus during their on-campus visits as high school recruits, female “hostesses” meet them, which creates the assumption that sex is part of compensation.

The “big man on campus,” so to speak, gets books and “babes,” and university officials all too often turn a blind eye. Women victims are called “cleat chasers” or “gold diggers” — derogatory names that place a monetary value on their presence — and are shamed when they come forward.

Just recently, for example, a student charged the University of Florida’s star freshman quarterback Treon Harris with rape. Within days, Harris’s lawyer, Huntley Johnson, portrayed the victim as the aggressor and noted that she texted Harris after his big win against Tennessee.

Why connect the victim’s supposed sexual aggression with the victor’s athletic conquest? Johnson told Florida football fans what he assumed they believed. Harris deserved a prize for his performance.

A day after the press release, she dropped her charges. Harris only missed one game.

As for QB Jameis Winston, whose undefeated Florida State team plays No. 5 ranked Notre Dame in what may be an elimination contest for the multi-million dollar College Football Playoff, FSU Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has remained adamant that Winston will not miss any games during the school’s rape investigation into an alleged 2012 sexual assault.

After all, as Fisher shamefully said, “there is not a victim, because there was no crime.”

There is no crime, because big time college sports treat women as commodities.

Whether Winston is punished for supposedly selling his autograph, another allegation he is facing, remains to be seen. What is clear is that changes need to be made to the system of college amateurism.

Louis Moore teaches sports history at a Michigan university.