Athlete Associates with Criminal Activity



1.1 Preamble
An analysis of the emergent issues regarding athlete involvement in crime is important in helping the key stakeholders to devise and implement sustainable intervention measures. Indeed, athletes play a critical mentoring role in the society. It is therefore imperative to evaluate the various issues surrounding their involvement with criminals and crime. Viable solutions to this will not only reduce incidences of crime and enhance societal cohesion, but will also promote inculcation of vital values and virtues in the young generation.

1.2 Background Information
Involvement in criminal activities by athletes is a growing problem that has increasingly raised significant public concerns. This is especially because of the recognition that most perpetrators are youths who are supposedly considered role models by the young generation. This has been attributed to by various factors that range from economic to environmental and behavioral. In his review, Herr (2009) indicates that the increasing involvement of athletes in crime is a reflection of the entire American society. Notably, crime rates have soared in the recent past and the involvement of the athletes is just an indication of the failure of the criminal justice system to prevent crime. Indeed, the prevalence of crime amongst athletes is posited to emerge once in every two days. In his report, Fisher (1995) notes that domestic violence is often the most pronounced with sexual assault reportedly being the second most experienced athlete crime. Further, drug abuse and violence have also been cited to be common crimes committed by the athletes.

Comparative studies indicate that athletes tend to be more aggressive than the rest of the population. This according to experts is contributed by the fact that they are taught aggression at a very tender age. This is further compounded by the inculcation of a must win attitude. Of great reference however are the huge salaries and the expensive scholarships that the athletes have access to. These tend to boost their ego and make them feel more special than the rest of the population. Cox (2007) also points out that athletes that share a close relationship with the criminals also tend to assume the criminal behavior. In this regard, it is posited that some of the athletes convicted of crimes like trafficking tend to associate closely with criminals charged with substance use and abuse. In addition, the moral decay and increased involvement in crime by the athletes has also been attributed to their close relationship with politicians. In such cases, the politicians act as their sponsors and as a result expose them to the dirty tricks employed in politics. With time, these athletes tend to assume similar behaviors like some of the politicians.

This scenario is also contributed to by the differential treatment that they are accorded by the media and the court system. In this regard, Keller (2007) indicates that the criminal justice system has the tendency to extend leniency to celebrities, rich citizens and other famous personalities. Further, the huge financial resources that these personalities have allow them to employ the services of very competent attorneys. In some cases, Staffo (2001) asserts that they tend to buy the victims with the financial resources which in turn influences the latter to drop the charges against them.

In addition, the criminal justice system tends to treat professional athletes differently from the youths. In this regard, Merten (2008) cites that the professionals who are mainly adults are given a harsher treatment than the youth. This makes the youth athletes persist in crime as their punishment is lighter. In order to curb athlete crime, studies indicate that the youth athlete engaging in crime need to be accorded similar treatment by the criminal justice system as their professional counterparts.  More so, the media portrays them as super heroes and in some instances fail to provide factual information to the public. Concealment of past mistakes encourages the athletes to continue engaging in criminal activities. However, in some instances, the media has been implicated for targeting the athletes because of their high profile position in the society. In this regard, it is posited that the media in some cases infringes on the privacy of the athletes by being overly involved in their private lives.

Further, Kim and Parlow (2009) point out that the superb talents that the athletes have protects them against the negative implications associated with their undesirable behavior. It is posited that pro athletes have a great economic influence that is often prioritized by their sponsors above integrity. In this respect, Rocha (2007) asserts that the respective teams that pro athletes belong to accord them preferential treatment too. This is due to the fact that they are usually considered invaluable assets whose loss can culminate into far reaching financial implications. To ensure that the athletes do not change their minds about playing for these teams, the teams do not punish them when they make mistakes or they give them minor punishments.

Apart from the media and the courts, Lawrence (2005) blames the entire public for the involvement of teen athletes in crime. In this regard it is contended that the public often perceives pro athletes as their role models and accords them preferential treatment. As such, they are usually exempted from crucial societal rules that mold behavior and instill values. As such, the young athletes grow up knowing that they are special and above the law. This encourages them to participate in crime that in some instances, they are not punished at all. In their study, Berry and Smith (2000) lament that the young athletes lack mentors who can guide their behavior accordingly. In this regard, it is argued that the coaches and professional athletes that interact with the lack desirable ideals and values. In fact, they are largely blamed for encouraging criminal behavior amongst the minors.

The institutions of higher learning have also been blamed for failing to take appropriate actions against the athletes that engage in crime (Blaudchun, 1996 Feezell, 2004). The public has in many instances raised various concerns regarding the young athletes from reputable higher learning institutions who engage in crime. In such cases, their talents are given preference over their academic performance and their morality. Thus respective colleges tolerate their sickening behavior in exchange for extra curricular excellence.

Jacobs (2002) cites that the athletes who engage in criminal activities always grapple with various challenges. To begin with, the media exposure that they get impacts negatively on their wellbeing. In this respect, it is worth acknowledging that the athletes are just like any other humans and lead normal lives like the middle class Americans. Thus they face similar life challenges like other Americans and experience work related pressure like other professionals do. In addition, they are expected to maintain a positive public image. Thus the media exposure when they engage in crime tends to be very humiliating and has the capacity to alter their reputation. In some cases, they are suspended from their career by respective oversight boards. This makes it difficult for them to earn a living, considering the fact that athletics is their source of income. In instances when the crimes are severe, studies indicate that such athletes are expelled from their teams.

Involvement in crime also has negative economic impacts on the wellbeing of the athletes. Presently, effective legal representation in America is very expensive and as such, the affected athlete spends millions in fines and other legal fees. The effects on their financial wellbeing trickle down to the families and friends that they support.

1.3 Problem Statement
The rising involvement of athletes in crime has culminated into various concerns that highlight the weaknesses of the present systems in dealing with societal ills. While some studies indicate that the current rates of athlete involvement in crime are entirely perpetuated by the differential treatment that the media accords them, public surveys ascertain that the athletes actually involve themselves in criminal activities. As indicated earlier, the society has dismally failed in intervening accordingly in this menace. Of great reference in this regard are the criminal justice system and the media that are responsible for providing vital benchmarks regarding behavioral development of this segment of the population.

Psychological studies contend that behavioral development is significantly influenced by the physical and social environment of an individual. Notably, criminal behavior that the athletes engage in stems from the wavering conditions of their social and physical environment. There involvement in crime has been attributed to their relationship with criminals too.  Statistics indicate that crimes like substance use and abuse are directly influenced by athlete involvement with criminals. From a theoretical viewpoint, social deviance is contributed to by various social economic, cultural and environmental factors. Basically, the social learning theory postulates that crime can be learnt through observation and imitation. This is further reinforced by peer pressure and social conditions. It is in this consideration that it is argued that the current behavioral constraints being portrayed by athletes through involvement in crime are partly attributed to their association with criminals.

1.4 Justification of Study
The rate and severity of athlete crime has increased significantly in the recent past. This has in turn had far reaching implications on the children and adults who look up to the athletes as role models. It can not be disputed that the influence of the athletes on the young generation is significant. Since the young generation tends to imitate and emulate what they perceive desirable, it is clear that the involvement of athletes in crime needs to be reviewed. In addition, the loss of income and the subsequent impacts on the standard of living of their families and friends needs to be addressed. In this regard it should be appreciated that increased productivity is critical to economic prosperity of the nation and therefore should not be compromised with avoidable crime.

It has been cited that the involvement of the athletes with criminals is a contributory factor to the athlete involvement in crime. There is an urgent need to review this relationship and ensure that intervention measures are undertaken in a timely manner. This requires increased partnerships and collaboration between all stakeholders. In order to achieve this, it is imperative to review the contribution of each stakeholder to the current state of affairs. This would provide a sustainable basement upon which precise future interventions can be devised, implemented and enforced accordingly.

1.5 Theoretical Underpinning

1.5.1 The Social Learning Theory
Albert Bandura believed that aggressive behaviors that are conventional to criminals are basically learned through behavior modeling. In his review, he argued that behavioral constraints are not inherited, rather they are learned. Learning according to him takes place through the media, observation or from the social environment (Allen  Santrock, 1993). In addition, he argues that aggression tends to yield reinforcements that are manifested through reduction of tension, getting financial rewards, gaining praise from peers andor building ones self esteem. His experiment with children ascertained that aggression is encouraged by the adult environment and the media. He further indicates that the stages of imitation or behavior modeling are successive in nature.

The first component is attention.  In this, the individual attends to the vital features of the behavior being imitated. For instance, an individual needs to attend to the activities of the aggressor before she can be able to reproduce similar activities through behavior. With regard to aggression in athletes, it can be posited that athletes that involve with criminals attend to the criminal activities. Thus they are exposed to the various tactics employed by the criminals. The following component is retention and is characterized by coding the relative information in long term memory. This enables the individual to retrieve the information with ease.
Then, motor reproduction gives the individual a chance to learn and posses the vital skills required in reproduction of the activities of the aggressor. At this juncture, Craig (2000) notes that the learner needs to have the physical capacity in order to reproduce the aggression accordingly. Arguably, the physical fitness of the athletes enables them to reproduce the learnt aggression with ease.

Finally enforcements or motivation is a process through which the learner anticipates some form of reward for the earned activity. At this point in time, Russell (1991) postulates that the competition context provides the athletes with the required motivation or reward. In particular, he indicates that the chanting of the crowd not only increases aggression but also rewards the violent athletes emotionally.  Notably, the degree of hostility in the athletes tends to increase with the level of noise made by the crowds during competitions. In addition, Brown (1998) points out that the violent players are also rewarded by the teams whenever they dominate the game. Rewards in this respect also take the form of praise from the public, media and other influential authorities.

Further, this theory postulates that environmental experiences also contribute to learning of violent behavior. In this regard, Tuckler and Parks (2001) posit that the individuals that reside in areas where crime is prevalent tend to engage in criminal activities more than their counterparts who reside in low crime regions.
This presumption is complemented by the social disorganization theory that ascertains that neighborhoods that are characterized by a culture of conflicts, insufficient social organizations andor moral decay contribute significantly to criminal behavior. This contention supports the presumption that athletes who spend time with the criminals tend to assume the criminal behavior. This is due to the fact that they get accustomed to the criminal environment and therefore behave in the same way as criminals.

1.6 Objectives of the Study
This study was guided by the following objectives
To identify the contributory factors to athlete involvement in crime
To determine the frequency of athlete association with criminals
To evaluate the relationship between athlete association with crime and their involvement in criminal activities
To determine the influence of social and economic factors to athlete crime



2.1 Explaining Athletes Involvement in Crime
High profile crimes involving prominent athletes like Michael Beasley, Reggie Williams, Marion Jones and Charles Barkley among others have contributed significantly to the current debate about the involvement of athletes in crime. Numerous studies of which Fox and Hellman (1995) are represented attribute this to the inherent aggression and other interpersonal behavioral constraints that characterize sporting. In his review, Lapchick (2001) posits that athletes that spend their time with criminals tend to assume their behavior and take up criminal activities too.  Drug use and abuse has been implicated as one of the common crimes that athlete criminals get from the rest of the criminals. In his comparative review regarding the characteristics of criminals that are exhibited by athletes, Messner (2002) ascertained that the behavioral similarity between the two segments of the population is significant. The study found out that some characteristics of athletes can indeed drive them to commit violent crime.

In this regard, it is worth acknowledging that most games require that athletes use force in order to attain the acceptable level of dominance in a game. They are often taught to employ force in conflict resolution. The situation is further perpetuated by the positive comments that they get from their fans when they employ force in order to win the game. The fact that use of force is one of the fundamentals of competence and therefore winning the game makes it inevitable for them to use more benign approaches in resolution of conflicts. In other words, aggression in games is often legitimized and perceived elemental in successful athletics. In other cases, Brown and Benedict (2000) posit that the nature of the sports and games that the athletes play is violent. For instance, hockey is a game that violence has been considered fundamental.

Notably, reinforcement of domination has been cited as one of the common characteristics of individuals apprehended for crimes such as rape. In his research, Kurek (1997) shows that male games and sports basically represent a rape culture. In addition, the fact that the aggressive behavior is rewarded by the teams encourages the athletes to practice it more often. Typically, the spectators also greatly encourage the players to use violence in games. Their chanting and encouragement during the manifestation of violence by the players encourages the latter to exhibit an increased hostility against their opponents. In his study regarding the relationship between aggression and crime, Staffo (2001) found out that aggression tends to desensitize the athletes of violence and relative activities. As such, they in some cases engage in violence unknowingly.

Further, Brodsky and ONeal (1993) indicate that the culture of alcohol consumption is encouraged by some sports and teams. Indeed alcohol consumption during sporting events has been cited as one of the factors that contribute to crime. Usually, alcohol is consumed as a form of celebration and is encouraged by both the players and the teams. At this juncture, it can not be disputed that alcohol consumption has contributed to aggression and ultimate crime.  Medical studies ascertain that alcohol consumption is related to personality disorders that contribute to violence and crime. In his review, Shutler (1998) cites that drunk driving is one of the commonest offenses that involve athletes. For instance, Donte Stallworth an NPL player pleaded guilty for killing a pedestrian in June 2009. The reason for this was that he was driving drunk in Florida.

Apparently, he settled with the family of the victim and was only given a month in jail, eight years of probation and two years of house arrest. The same charges were pressed on Charles Barkley, an NBA star who pleaded guilty to drunken driving and running a red light in March 2009. Notably, drug use and abuse has been identified as one of the common characteristic of criminals (Goldberg, Elliot, MacKinnon, Moe, Kuehl, Nohre  Lockwood, 2003). Usually, they employ drugs to enable them deal with the atrocities related to the criminal activities that they engage in.

Further, Henson and Stone (1999) posit that the personality disorders exhibited by most of the athletes contribute to their engagement in crime. In their analysis of common behavioral constraints and the relationship of the same with crime, they show that athletes tend to assume an inflated sense of self and pride driven arrogance that decrease their acceptance and appreciation of the current authoritative structures. Thus such disorders lead them to engage in crime and believe that they are above the law. Similar personality constraints have also been exhibited by criminals. A classic example in this respect is narcissism that is characterized by feelings of rage, pride, grandiose fantasies and depression. Likewise, anger, pride and greed have been identified as some of the reasons that influence the criminals to engage in unacceptable social behavior.

This is complemented by Adler and Adler (1999) who indicated that in some instances, athlete crime is racially perpetuated. This is based upon the assertions that Blacks tend to have high levels of testosterone hormone that increases their degree of aggression and therefore participation in crime. This is compounded by the increasing percentage of Blacks in athletics that reportedly experience high incidences of crime such as hockey and baseball. Furthermore, it is indicated that the personality disorders like pride and anger that are exhibited by the athletes are also contributed to by racial attitudes. In his survey, Coakley (2004) found out that the Black American law enforcers are seldom considered competent by the White offenders. This is because of the negative racial attitudes that such offenders have towards the minorities.

In his review, Coakley (2007) indicates that persons who are masculine tend to be more aggressive than their counterparts. This assumption is based upon a study carried out by Cox (2007) in state prisons. According to this, a significant percentage of the prison population was found to be physically fit at the time of imprisonment. This conception is further ascertained by studies whose findings indicated that the physically fit engage in criminal activities because of their higher IQ. Conversely Manning (2005) indicates that persons with a lower IQ tend to be more active in sports. In this, they are overly exposed to aggression that makes them assume criminal behavior. Fox and Hellman (1995) complement this assertion by indicating that the non elite athletes tend to be self centered and very proud as compared to the elite athletes. The arrogance makes them to belittle other persons including law enforcers and the relative rules and values. This is further compounded by the huge amounts of money that they get and the preferential treatment that they are accorded by their teams and learning institutions.

The social environment that the athletes are brought up in has also been associated with their criminal behavior. In particular, Weiss (1999) indicates that the pro athletes who grow up in unstable families, low family or parent involvement, low socio economic standards, lack of daily resources and bad peer groups are always at a higher risk of engaging in delinquency, just like the rest of the vulnerable population. Usually, such behavior is extended to adulthood. Thus the affected athletes fail to mend their ways even after they get huge amounts of financial resources. On the contrary, the society expects them to align their behavior to that of role models and celebrities. Failure to meet these expectations results to a negative perception by the media and the entire public.

Merten (2008) attributes the involvement of athletes in crime to the rising crimes that are being experienced by the society. Emergent research indicates that the increased instances of crimes are contributed to by rough family situations that have reduced parent involvement in matters of child discipline. In this respect, Keller (2007) indicates that critical family bonds are slowly being torn apart by technological distractions like televisions, video games and the internet. In addition, Lawrence (2005) points out that increased economic difficulties are making parents to spend more time working and less time supervising their children. As a result, children tend to engage in crime at an earlier age. Development of deviant behavior at this age also makes it difficult for the child to adhere to the traditional social values. According to Berry and Smith (2000), a significant percentage of pro athletes belong to this segment of the population.

Various researches have in the past advocated the idea that the athletes do not engage in crime, rather their role model status is manipulated by the media that accords them unnecessary public attention on the premise that they are role models. However Goldberg (1995) refutes this contention and indicates that in fact the present scenario is an over implication. According to his study, he found out that athletes engage in aggressive behavior and engage in crime that is in most instances not reported by the media. This according to Tapper and Taylor (2006) explains why most athletes that are apprehended for crime tend to have a history of criminal incidences that have not been reported in the past.

2.2 Incidences of Athlete Involvement in Crime
Since historical times, athletes have always been associated with violent crimes. In the recent past, the nature and diversity of the crimes committed by prominent athletes has increased significantly. To begin with, Lubker, Visek, Geer and Watson (1998) cite that most athletes have been apprehended for carrying guns illegally. Recent trends indicate that they posses guns and carry the same in social places.  Whenever they get drunk or experience violent incidences, the athletes use the guns and in most cases pose insecurity both to themselves and the general public. Plaxico Buress who is considered a New York giant is one of the stars who were sentenced to jail for two years for possessing a gun. Apparently, he accidentally shot himself at a night club in New York. Further, Tank Johnson also got into trouble with the law after the law enforcement officers raided his home and recovered six guns, two ounces of marijuana and 550 rounds of ammunition. Finally, Cleveland Cavaliers was arrested by the police in Maryland for carrying a concealed gun. Follow up studies indicate that the athletes carry guns for security proposes (Murray, 2009). In particular, they fear for themselves, their money and for their homes. This assumption is based on the recognition that most of them are often targeted by the criminals because of their financial resources.

Herr (2009) ascertains that former pro athletes are also increasingly participating in robbery and violence. This is attributed to the desperate situation that they get in whenever they loose their resources. A classic example in this regard is O.J. Simpson who was charged with armed robbery, kidnapping and other related offenses in a casino hotel room in Las Vegas. He was sentenced nine to thirty three years in prison. Maurice Claret the former star of Ohio State was also sentenced in jail for seven and a half years after being found guilty of aggravated crime. In addition, he was also found guilty of carrying a concealed weapon in public (Mydans, 1994).

Further, Washington (2009) cites that some pro athletes have also been convicted for fighting with dogs.  An NFL star Michael Vick was sentenced to prison for eighteen months for killing and fighting dogs. As a result, the star lost millions of dollars in lost salary and employed a significant percentage of his fortune in legal fees and fines.  With regard to this case, studies indicate that the star could have gotten a fair charge if the public outrage could not have been so much pronounced. Initially, Qyntel Woods had also been indicted in 2005 for similar charges although he pleaded guilty for animal abuse. Finally, LeShon Johnson, who is also an NFL player served a five year term in jail for dog fighting.

In some instances, Staffo (2001) indicates that pro athletes are implicated by their teams for involvement in off field criminal behavior. A typical example in this regard is Adam Jones who has been suspended twice by his team for involvement in criminal behavior outside the field. In particular, Cox (2007) reports that the star was involved in a shooting at a strip club. Braylon Edward will also probably face disciplinary action for punching LeBron James outside a night club. In particular, it is posited that both the league and the New York Jets team will probably enforce disciplinary action against him.

Another common crime that the stars are usually apprehended for is domestic violence. The current trends affirm the preposition that athletes are usually very aggressive and this makes it difficult for them to handle affairs with the opposite sex in a sustainable anger. Shawne Merriman, a San Diego Chargers star has been arrested in the past for battering and imprisoning his girlfriend. In addition, Brett Myers, a baseball pro was arrested and charged for allegedly hitting his wife during an argument. However, the charges were later dropped because the wife did not want him prosecuted. In 2001, Jason Kidd was also charged for spouse abuse after his wife reported to the police that she had been hit during an argument with him over their young son. Latter, Manning (2005) indicates that the two divorced after Kidd had taken a restraining order against her. He paid 200 for the damages caused.

Closely associated with domestic violence are rape cases. In this regard, Washington (2009) ascertains that the increasing rates of involvement of pro athletes in rapes have raised various concerns on a global scale. In 2009, David Megget a former NFL running back was charged with rape and is currently serving a jail sentence. Interestingly, this charge was carried out when he had been out on bond for another sexual assault charge. Merten (2008) indicates that this was arrived a after the case had involved the Supreme Court. Another such athlete is Denzel McDougald of Eastmoor Academy who was charged with rape and later let out on a bond of 100,000.

Gambling is another crime that the pro athletes have been convicted for in the recent past. In this regard McMahon (2009) indicate that gambling is an illegal behavior that the athletes often get addicted to. Art Schlichter is an NFL star that has been convicted for the crime for more than ten times. Currently, he is still serving a fifteen year jail term in Ohio Prison. According to McMahon (2009), Antoine Walker was recently arrested for having gambling debts in Las Vegas Casinos. Further, Farmer Barkley was also convicted in 2007 but settled his 400000 debt accordingly.

In their survey, Bray, Jones and Owen (2009) indicated that athletes also get in legal problems for skipping child support. This often happens when they have multiple children with various women. As a rest, they find it difficult to provide sufficient parenting for all the children. This situation is well exemplified by Travis Hensry who supposedly has nine children that are borne of different mothers. The situation is further compounded by the fact that the children are closely spaced. In particular, Bray et al (2009) ascertain that they are hardly four months apart. According to recent reports, Henry is unable to afford 170000 that is estimated for the support of the children per year. Evander Holyfield, a renowned boxing champion has also been implicated in the past for child support charges that almost saw him loose his home that is worth 500000. In addition, he has also grappled with numerous failed business ventures and two divorces.

According to Sage (1998), a small but significant percentage of pro athlete have been convicted for using and abusing drugs, irrespective of the fact that their bodies are their sole sources of livelihoods.  A classic example in this respect is Josh Hamilton who has been charged for abusing coke in the past. In addition, Chris Anderson was also suspended for two years after being convicted for doing drugs. According to studies, he lost an estimated three and a half million dollars in a year. Further, a football star Ricky Williams was suspended for one year in 2006 for failing a drug test because of use of marijuana. Further, Michael Phelps, an Olympic star lost his Kelloggs endorsement deal after being caught smoking bhang. Likewise, Perry (2009) indicates that he lost any form of support from USA swimming. Earlier on, Darryl Strawberry who is a common baseball star had various problems with the law that saw him serve eleven months in prison and probation in 2003 for being found in possession of cocaine.

Statistics also indicate that athletes not only use drugs, but they are also usually convicted of engaging in commercial deals involving drugs (Tuckler  Parks, 2001). This ascertains the initial presumption that athletes who get involved with criminals tend to engage in criminal activities too. In his review Coakley (2004) cites Jamal Lewis who was imprisoned for four months for employing his cellular phone in trying to initiate a drug deal. A more explicit example is presented by Bob Probert, a popular fighter who was imprisoned for ninety days for smuggling cocaine from Canada to US. Earlier on in 1996, Shutler (1996) indicates that Darryl Henley, a former LA Rams star was convicted of drug trafficking and imprisoned for forty one years.

The involvement of athletes in crime on field is a factor that has raised numerous ethical and professional concerns. An example of such an instance is exemplified by the basketball fight between Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers. This was initiated by one man who threw a paper cup at a player. Immediately after the cup hit the player, he ran to the stand and broke into a fight with the man. This led to a fight between the players and the fans that culminated in cancellation of the game. The Vikings Love Boat case has also raised various concerns regarding the professional ethics of the players. In this, a couple of players from Minnesota Vikings Football decided to host a party on a boat. Notably, the party involved gambling, women and alcohol. All members in the boat including the athletes were arrested by law enforces and charged with lewd, disorderly and indecent conduct.

In some cases, players have exhibited a high degree of violence even after the game is over. In this respect, Cox (2007) cites Albert Haynesworth who stomped an injured opponent with his cleats. This made the injury even worse and the player had to be stitched after being helped off the pitch. As a result, Albert was given a suspension from five games, during which he did not receive any pay. This marked the longest suspension period that NFL had ever given its player.

Finally, McMahon (2004) indicates that some pro athletes involve themselves in killing. According to studies, Ray Carruth who formerly belonged to Carolina Panthers was imprisoned for close to nineteen years in 2001 after being involved in shooting his girlfriend. In the same year, Ray Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and testified against his co defendants in a street fight case that led to death of two men in a bid to avoid murder charges. Further, studies cited Mike Danton, a former NHL player that was accorded a full parole after being sentenced for seven and a half years in prison for a murder-for-hire plot in 2004. The prosecutors contended that the target of this conspiracy was David Frost, who was his agent. However, Danton maintained that the target was actually his father. Ugueth Urbina was also imprisoned for fourteen years for attempted murder after he tried killing five workers that were employed on his family ranch. Most recently, in 2009 Donte Stallworth a Cleveland Browns player pleaded guilty to manslaughter influenced by drunk driving.

From the preceding analysis, it is certain that pro athletes have continuously been involved in criminal activities. The have been attributed to numerous factors that are social, behavioral and economic in nature. Notably, their alarming contribution to crimes calls for urgent intervention measures to counter the situation.



3.1 Introduction
Numerous criminological, sociological and psychological authors have undertaken extensive research in the past in a bid to determine the relationship between the involvement of athletes with criminals and their actual engagement in crime. A survey of literature has generated various assumptions in this respect. The purpose of this chapter is to review the various researches that have been undertaken and analyze the constituent data in order to discern the relationship between athletes involvement with criminals and their engagement in crime.

3.2 Review of Research
In his research, Manning (2005) found out that peer influence is a main factor that contributed to athlete involvement in crime. This study was conducted on a section of adolescents in New York. He employed a sample of seventy one adolescents who participated actively in sports. A significant 98 of this affirmed to have committed a crime either on field or off field. The most cited reason for this was peer pressure followed by aggression and alcohol abuse. The most common crimes committed according to this study were theft and violence. The study also indicated that the athlete males tend to engage in crime more frequently than their female counterparts. The limitation of this study was that it was confined to one institution. Nevertheless, Young (1997) points out that it should be appreciated that the youth tend to portray similar behavior. Therefore the findings can still be applied to other learning institutions especially considering the fact that youth athletes comprise a significant percentage of the athlete population in USA.

Another research conducted by Koven (2002) primarily sought to determine the range of behavioral disorders that influenced the involvement of athletes in crime. Findings implicated alcohol use and abuse, gambling and substance use and abuse as key contributors to addictive and disorderly behavior exhibited by college athletes. It employed a sample size of 185 athletes in an urban school in Philadelphia. Of these 152 affirmed that alcohol had influenced them to participate in violent activities. In addition, 130 of the total population ascertained that they had involved themselves in gambling and betting during competitions. This had in turn influenced them to engage in violence at the end of the competitions.  The study concluded that addictive behaviors contribute a great deal to involvement in crime. It recommended that intervention measures need to be directed at timely prevention of addictive behaviors amongst the youth. However, this study was limited by the fact that the questionnaire employed in the research had not been accredited by the relevant authorities. Nonetheless, its questions were valid and collected vital data that was fundamental in analysis of the issue at hand.

A relative study conducted across the southern States of USA regarding the attributes of criminals indicated that most of them tend to have addictive and compulsive behaviors. In particular, findings indicated that criminals tend to be more aggressive and exhibit high degrees of violence. Further, 86 of the participants were reported to be drug addicts (Raney  Bryant, 2006). This study employed a diverse population that was derived from different social and economic backgrounds. Notably, this was in a bid to eliminate the assumptions associated with crime.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association also conducted a study regarding patterns of substance use amongst college athletes and the relationship of the same with involvement in crime. Findings indicated that alcohol is the most commonly abused drug although amphetamine and steroid are also increasingly being used by athletes (NCAA, 2005). The study found out that athletes get the drugs from criminal gangs. Thus it can be posited that the involvement of college athletes with criminals contributes to their involvement in crime.

In his comparative research to determine the causes of involvement of college students in crime, McCrory (2007) found out that most students who involved in crime had a poor economic background. He employed a sample of eighty five students from three different college teams. Using purposive sampling, the study ensured that half of the participants came from poor economic backgrounds. Findings showed that athletes from poor economic backgrounds exhibited more risky behaviors than their counterparts. A multivariate analysis indicated that such athletes were thrice more likely to engage in criminal activities than their counterparts from economically rich backgrounds. This according to the study was contributed to by the social environment and the economic challenges that the athletes faced.

Also, Murcia, Gimeno and Coll (2007) conducted a research to determine the behavior of athletes when they are in a group context. Their study employed a sample of four college teams and was conducted over a period of two successive years. Findings indicated that when in a group, athletes tend to exhibit more violence, deviance and aggression when approached than when they are approached as individuals.

Implications of this study were that group environments are very influential and make the innocent athletes to engage in crime. The study concluded that any intervention measures to counter the scenario need to be all inclusive in nature. With regard to association of athletes with criminals, it can be deduced that athletes can be easily manipulated by the criminal behavior of common criminals. This becomes even trickier to address the issue when a significant number of the athletes in a team associate with criminals.

A relative research was conducted by Hardin and Sampsell (2007) and sought to determine the reasons behind increased sexual assault cases by athletes. It employed data generated by electronic sources and it entirely focused on college students. Findings indicated that the segregation of athletes in a same sex group encouraged them to engage in sex crimes such as gang rape. This was because of the influence of peer pressure. The study recommended that college athletes who are convicted of sex crimes need to be given a harsher punishment in order to deter them from involving in the crimes again. Thus there is need to review the current punishment that the athletes are accorded. However, this study was limited by its sole utilization of electronic data. Usually, credibility of such data is compromised by inherent flaws in related reports.
Nevertheless, the study covered a large geographical area and findings have a global application. In his research that sought to find out the causes of crime involving athletes, Perry (2009) found out that the
heroic attitude that deviant stars are accorded influences their team mates to engage in the same. This study employed observation of the level of influence that deviant behavior of the pro athletes had on upcoming champions. He ascertained that young athletes usually emulate the pro athletes and take up most of their behavior. The findings were partially employed in explaining the criminal record within NFL. Apparently, some of the stars admired the violent and criminal behavior of the former stars. The study recommended that counter measures should encourage autonomous thinking.

Current trends indicate that there is an increase in crimes that are perpetuated by athletes. From the analysis, it is certain that various environmental, social and economic factors contribute to the inherent behavioral constraints. In particular, abuse of alcohol and drugs has been identified as one of the key influencing factors that make the athletes engage in crime. Of great reference however are the environmental and economic factors that undermine effective behavioral development of the athletes. Indeed, the hostile environment that is characterized by criminal activities has a significant impact on the behavioral development of athletes. This is further compounded by the lack of vital role models that the young champions need to emulate. Notably, this has led to a vicious circle of criminal activities within the sports sphere. The association of the upcoming athletes with their deviant seniors has compromised the efforts towards eliminating athlete crime. Likewise, the association of athletes with criminals such as drug dealers contributes to the involvement of the same in criminal activities. This reflects that implications of the social learning theory that attributes criminal behavior to various environmental, social and economic factors.



4.1 Introduction
The principle aim of this study was to determine whether the involvement of athletes with criminals contributed to their involvement in criminal activities. To do this, it employed a survey methodology that gathered information from athletes regarding the influence of the criminal environment on their behavior. A self administered interview schedule was employed in data collection. Self administration of the interview enhanced the quality of the data and ensured correct interpretation of the questions.

4.2 Sampling Procedure
The sample of the research consisted of this Universitys athlete team (100) and post graduate sports students pursuing criminology regardless of whether they belonged to the college team or not (100). Because the interest in athlete crime is introduced to the criminology students at an undergraduate level, there lacked evidence that suggested possible differences in perception of athlete crime for both samples. The sample had a total of 200 participants. This was necessary in order to capture the varied views of the participants. The choice of the sample employed purposive and later random sampling. Purposive sampling ensured that the views of the athletes are captured in the study. In addition, it aimed at authenticating the data collected by employing persons that are well versed with the dynamics of athlete crime. Then simple random sampling sought to eliminate bias and prejudice by according the entire population and equal chance to participate in the survey.

4.3 The Interview Schedule
The interview schedule was administered by ten interviewees over a period of three months. These underwent a comprehensive training for one week before proceeding to the field. It was necessary to review the interview schedule with them in order to ensure efficient collection of data. This ensured that the interviewees had sufficient time to collect as much information as possible. The long period was also influenced by the frequent participation of the college team in external competitions that left minimal time for data collected. The interview schedule comprised of questions that directed the interviewee during data collection. These were in line with the objectives of the study and they included factors influencing athlete involvement in crime, frequency of athlete involvement with criminals, effect of the relationship between athletes and criminals and finally, the implications of the social and economic environment to the behavior of athletes.

The factors influencing athlete involvement in crime were categorized into four main groups. The first group was environmental factors that comprised of the aggressive nature of the game and the nature of the rules employed in playing the game. The second group comprised of social factors that entailed influence from politicians, the public and the media. Economic factors were in the third group and constituted the poor economic background of the athletes. Finally, the behavioral factors included the behavioral constraints that the athletes assume after continued interaction with the social, environmental and economic factors. Before responding to this variable, the interviewees were expected to clearly explain to the respondents the constituents of the various groups of factors and how they affect the involvement of athletes in criminal activities. Also, probing was encouraged in order to collect more relative information.

With regard to the frequency of the involvement of athletes with criminals, the respondents were expected to answer as either always, frequent, less frequent or never. Always in this respect meant that they involved themselves with any type of criminals at least once every week, frequent meant they involved themselves with the criminals at least once every month, less frequent implied that the athletes involved themselves with criminals at least once every three months and never meant that they did not involve themselves with the criminals at all. Involvement with criminals according to this study was defined as any association with any form of illegal gang, person or group including their very team that assumed criminal activities.

The effect of their involvement with the criminal gangs was an open ended question that expected the respondents to explain the implications of their involvement with criminals. However, during coding, the reasons were grouped in to criminal behavior and non criminal behavior. Finally, the respondents were expected to explain how the social and economic environment contributed to their involvement in criminal activities. Again, this was also an open ended question although the findings were grouped in to criminal and non criminal influences.

4.4 Variables
The hypothesis comprised of both the dependent and independent variable. The dependent variable was the involvement of athletes with criminals and the independent variables were the implications of this involvement and other causes of athlete involvement in crime.

4.5 Limitations of the Survey
There were various limitations of this survey that had the capacity to compromise the quality of the findings. To begin with, the sample employed the convenient college age population that was not representative of the entire athlete population. In this regard, it is worth noting that the concerns of the youth athletes are quite different from those of the professional athletes. In addition, statistics indicate that professional athletes commit more severe crimes than the youth. Thus it can be presumed that the two segments of the population engage in crime for different reasons. However, considering the fact that they have similar experiences, the results can be generalized.

Further, there were more men than women in the sample. This could have skewed the results that were related to causes of crime. Generally, it is certain that male athletes engage in more crime than the female athletes. However, emergent concerns such as the use of steroid are increasingly involving women athletes.  It would therefore be imperative for future research in this respect to use a more diverse sample that would be more representative of the athletes.

5.1 Results
With regard to the factors that contributed to athlete involvement in crime, 62 of the population contended that behavioral constraints were responsible for the involvement of athletes in crime. This was followed by the environmental factors which were supported by 24 of the population. 10 of the population believed that the social factors influenced the athletes to engage in illegal activities. Finally, 6 of the population blamed economic reasons for the involvement of athletes in crime.

Regarding the frequency of involvement in criminal activities, this study found out that 74 of the athlete population always involved itself with criminals. 15 of the respondents contended that they involved with the illegal persons frequently. 8 believed that they involved with the criminals less frequently. Sadly, only 3 of the athletes contended that they never involved themselves with the criminals at any time and in any way. A significant 84 of the population affirmed that their association with criminals influenced them to involve in criminal activities. Only 16 of the population believed that the activities that they engaged in after involving themselves with criminals were not illegal.

With respect to the influence of the socio and economic environment to their involvement in crime, 53 of the population believed that negative aspects of the social and economic environment influenced them to engage in criminal activities. However, the remaining 47 believed that the social and economic environment did not influence them in any way to engage in crime.

5.2 Discussion
Notably, behavioral constraints can be largely blamed for the increased involvement of athletes in criminal activities. These findings complement the theoretical conception that indicated that criminal behavior can be easily learned in a social environment. Remarkably the interplay between economic, social and environmental facets of the athletes life increases their vulnerability to criminal activities. This implies that the athletes can also be easily manipulated by their immediate environment to engage in crime. Notably, environmental factors that can be considered inevitable also influence the athletes. As indicated in the literature review, most of the sports require the employment of aggression and force. This is instilled in the players at a tender age and it contributes significantly to their competence.  However, in order to avoid detrimental effects, the athletes need to be more resistant to other social and economic aspects that can be easily controlled.

Unlike the previous studies that had ascertained that the athletes seldom engage in criminal activities, this studies found out that a significant percentage of the athlete population involved in illegal activities. These ranged from gambling, theft, violence and drug use and abuse to sexual offenses and physical assault. In most cases, they did this in groups and were seldom convicted for them. From their viewpoint, they considered the activities very minor. However, it should be appreciated that these tend to escalate and become more pronounced with time (Chandler, Johnson  Caroll, 1999 Paccagnella  Grove, 1997). Intervention measures in this regard need to be directed at preventing involvement in such activities.

The study found out that the association of the athletes with criminals influenced their involvement in crime. This finding complements previous findings in the literature review and theoretical construct that indicated that disorganized environments contributed a great deal to development of defiant behavior. Contrary to the expectations of the researcher, 47 of the population believed that social and economic factors did not contribute significantly to the involvement of the athletes in crime. Thus it can be ascertained that the media reports that are presented to the public are not just an over involvement in their private life but an actual revelation of their engagement in criminal activities.



6.1 Introduction
In the current society, both professional and college athletes play a vital role of representing their respective institutions and offering mentoring services to the society respectively. Their involvement in crime has led to their punishment by their leagues and the criminal justice system as well as increased publicity. Various factors have been suggested to be causes of their increased involvement in crime. Evaluating the relationship between their association with criminals and their involvement in crime has yielded various concerns.

6.2 Conclusion
The discipline, social status and public appearance of athletes are predicated by their active involvement in athletics. Their involvement in illegal activities has had far reaching implications on the society that they represent. This has been contributed to by their association with criminals. It should be appreciated that the current holistic environment is characterized by an increase in crime and the implications of this are being reflected through athlete crime. Coupled with the nature of the athletics that requires them to employ a significant degree of aggression, this has increased their vulnerability to involvement in crime. Of great concern in this respect however is the fact that the athletes assume criminal behavior from their association with criminals.

From the study, it can be ascertained that the factors leading to athlete involvement with criminals are intricate and augmenting in nature. Indeed, the social, environmental, economic and behavioral factors interplay to influence the athletes. This has further been compounded by the decreased autonomy that the athletes portray especially regarding decision making. The review of research affirms that group environments tend to influence the decision making of the athletes. Since it is certain that the behavioral constraints are entirely learned from the social environment, effective ameliorative measures need to be directed at improving the overall environment of these individuals. Notably, this requires collaboration between major stakeholders.


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