According to USA Today, there have been 83 domestic violence arrests in the NFL just in this past year. Forty-eight percent of the league’s crime rate is domestic violence related crimes, while in the United States as a whole, domestic violence only accounts for 21 percent of the nation’s offenses. Despite this, these trends have not been seen at Los Altos and or the football team.
On February 15 this year, TMZ leaked a video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his wife unconscious in an elevator. This act terminated his contract, tarnished his reputation and established a firestorm of controversy surrounding the NFL’s domestic violence policy. This culture of violence, interspersed with athleticism and the glamour of celebrity culture, has caused many people to question the values of the NFL and brought many to consider whether this toxicity in football culture will leak into the average high school.
The astronomically high pay and socialite-like stature that football players hold when they become celebrated members of the game are argued to be part of the reasoning for the drastic rates of violence. When the players are treated with this level of prestige, it is difficult for them not to think that they can get away with whatever they want without losing their status or their positions on their teams.
“I think that when it’s a celebrity, it’s treated differently,” school psychologist Chad Ablang said. “I think that there is some power of a cover…When you have a reputation, it comes with privileges.”
At Los Altos, players are not overpraised or rigorously accommodated as they are in the professional leagues, but they are in every sense highly valued members of our high school dynamic. However, while a football player’s treatment as a revered or regular individual is an important contributing factor to their potentially violent antics, it may not be the only one.
“NFL players suffer repeated blows to the head every Sunday,” Forbes contributor Dan Diamond said. “A star player like Rice will get tackled hundreds of times every year. And there is evidence to suggest that all those hits to the brain may increase the propensity to commit domestic violence.”
Many think that the physicality endorsed on the field can be mentally difficult to turn off when the players go home to their families. Ablang, however, disagrees.
“I think that if that was the case, then a majority or all of the football players would be abusers or they would be violent,” Ablang said. “I think it can be a lot of different factors like anger management issues…it could be that there is a cycle in the family where they see violence at home…or they just see violence in the community.”
In practically every high school film ever directed, the football players are represented as the bludgeoning rulers of the campus, the “royalty” that everyone looks up to with admiration and longing. With this idea being ingrained into the minds of our youth, how can they be expected to carry themselves in a level-headed manner, especially when their role models in the NFL are constantly being deemed above the law? While this is an issue that plagues players on our national stage, at Los Altos, we are lucky enough not to experience this imbalance in our society.
“I believe that [NFL] football players who are treated as royalty end up becoming ‘bigger than the game itself’ as they say, because they assume that they have control of certain situations,” sophomore running back Max Higareda said.
Here, our football players, like all other aspects of our school, contribute to the central atmosphere. Ablang believes that the entire community of players, most importantly those that are high school students, cannot be judged by the criminalistic actions of a handful of players.
Senior lineman Phillip Almeda takes a stance by saying that the violence is not prevalent among the school and that humility is a valuable characteristic.
“[At Los Altos,] we’re treated like any other sports player,” Phillip said. “We’re just [people] that play the sport that we love… I’m not going to be a big jerk around campus, start pushing people around and all that…you have to be humble and know how to act.”
Ablang, in consideration with the fact that the school has championed plenty of successful students and a rigorous learning environment, finds our football team to be in perfect accordance with Los Altos’ values.
“I actually think our football team are all really respectful,” Ablang said. “And I think they are very ‘Los Altos.’”