Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How Much is Too Much?

Sports Illustrated has got a big banner on its webpage that there are criminals playing college football.  You don't say.  They say that of the 2800 guys or so playing, about 200 have criminal records.  That would be seven percent.  Is that a lot?  Expecting zero would be incredibly naive.  Especially when the standard is: have they been charged with a crime?  So much for innocent until proven guilty.  Now, I want to be clear, I am not excusing teams if they have recruited individuals with records of committing crimes (again, guilty of committing crimes, not just being accused).  I am just saying that the article seems to be trying to be far more alarmist than it should be.  Again, 200 guys accused of crimes out of 2800.  In a sport that is quite violent, so it is probably going to get more folks who are more physical than the skiing team or glee club.

About one hundred of these cases are about alcohol, DUI, and drugs.  Wow, young folks are drinking and using drugs.  How about comparing these stats to the average college student?  Put this into some kind of perspective!*

* The funny thing is that I am pretty outraged by this, and I am definitely not a fan of college sports. 

Yes, the article does not include the juvenile records since they are essentially classified, so perhaps there are more violent offenders in sports than these stats suggest, but, again, compare to other college students to see if this is more or less.  The article criticizes schools for not doing checks of criminal records.  Um, are these kids going to need a security clearance to get access to the playbook?  Unless schools screen ALL of their students, it is not clear why athletes should be screened.  It is not like they are getting access to weapons when they join a football team.  Yes, it is bad when coaches deliberately ignore someone's record of violence, but that is different from saying we should screen everyone.

Again, 200 out of 2800.  And no notion of what is typical for a college age student.  What incredibly crappy social science this is, and what incredibly lousy journalism this is.  Good thing they went the extra yard to get an "alarm bell" reference in the text.

1 comment:

Steve Greene said...

Indeed. Shameful journalism and shameful social science.