Athletes Get a Pass from Public
June 17, 1994 is arguably the wildest day in sports history. ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary “June 17, 1994” highlights the sporting events – NBA Finals, MLB game, Stanley Cup and U.S. Open- surrounding the highway chase and capture of O.J. Simpson on charges of murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend. Unlike most documentaries, it does not consist of interviews and voice overs. It is a compilation of footage from the sporting events and news sources covering the events on June 17 and the days leading to it. However, I don’t want to focus on the entire documentary, I want to focus on how Simpson’s situation was handled because of his status as a star, NFL running back. People didn’t know if he was guilty of the crime he was accused of or not but they still supported him. Fans stood outside of his home chanting “Juice,” held signs that said, “Save the Juice,” and “We love the Juice.” The police officer speaking to Simpson during the chase even referred to him as “Juice” – did he forget that he was speaking to a man wanted for murder or was it just me? Furthermore, the chase lasted entirely too long and could’ve been shut down much sooner by law enforcement. Of course news stations milked the coverage.
On the other hand, the average person wouldn’t have received this support from the public, reporters and police officers. No one cared about his dead ex-wife and her boyfriend, they only wanted Simpson to be innocent because he was great at carrying a football. We see this behavior time and time again when it comes to athletes being accused of crimes such as murder and especially sexual assualt. People will say an athlete didn’t sexually abuse a woman and she’s lying because she wants his money. Think of it this way, what if the accuser was your family member or friend, how would you feel? The fact that an athlete knows he will get away with things because of his power is sufficient enough for him to do whatever he wants, as long as he has support from fans who don’t know him personally but only as a talented athlete. The only people who know the truth are those who were involved, and those on the outside looking in shouldn’t speak on what they don’t know. Athletes who have been guilty of crimes have been found innocent, and those who have been innocent have been found guilty. Whether Simpson is guilty or not remains questionable. However, it is evident that power overrules justice, and this is a problem that needs to be solved. Athletes, man or woman, should not be treated differently than anyone else accused of a crime.