Reading about the Stanford Swimmer rape case and the prevalence of sexual assaults among college athletes is upsetting and shocking to many. For those of you wondering where this attitude of invincibility for athletes comes from I thought I would relate to you a little of my own personal experience.
I went to high school in a rural area of western, ny and our graduating class was only 80 people. I was a successful wrestler and won some state and regional awards but I was still a big fish in a small pond with no meaningful future in athletics. But the love of a small town for it’s athletes is deep. As a mouthy kid, I was always being sent to the office, instead of seeing the vice principal who was stern and always handed out discipline the principal would intervene. He would tell the vice principal I was a “good kid” and that other kids looked up to me. We could let it slide this one time. But it wasn’t one time, it was lots of times. I learned very quickly that the rules that applied to other people did not apply to me. Late for class? tired, because I practice so hard. Insubordinate? Stressed out about a big match or cutting weight. There was always someone willing to make an excuse for me even when I was too lazy to even attempt one for myself.
Fortunately my “bad” behavior was limited to teenage disrespect for authority and not acts of physical or sexual violence towards others and I learned to control my youthful pride. So when you read about these shocking events at big schools you should know that every day at every small and large high school in america there are dozens of kids like me who are taught over and over that the rules are not for them.