Male Athletes and Violence Against Women

Ray Rice poster athlete for violence against women.


by Earl Smith and Angela J. Hattery

Boys Behaving Badly? Not really.

They are simply doing what is accepted in their sport culture.

Since the late 1990s scholars have been chronicling the growing incidences of male athletes–college and professional–, across almost all sports where the common denominator is violence against women.

From Tampa Bay Rays catcher Derek Norris to the “Yankee Clipper”Joe DiMaggio who beat and abused his wife Marilyn Monroe to UFC fighter Thiago Silva to professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., to professional football star O.J. Simpson who severely beat his wife Nicole Brown Simpson to pro football player Greg Hardy to Sean Burke  NHL hockey player beat his wife and many, many more.

What this ip of the iceberg list shows is that many men who hone their skills in perfecting some sport are also prone to violence off their playing field.

Our analysis of this in several publications is that sport, many of which are violent (even NASCAR), produces a physical action embedded within a culture of violence that deeply impacts the participants.   That is to suggest that the male athletes that perpetrate violence against women have poo coping skills and do not possess the tools necessary for deescalating violence situations. Immediately they revert to physical violence.

It behooves intercollegiate athletics and professional sports organizations to incorporate into their programs (and not just bring in someone to give a speech) violence prevention training for their athletes.



Hattery, Angela and Earl Smith. 2018. Policing Black Bodies: How Black Lives are Surveilled and How to work for Change. Rowman and Littlefield.

Smith, Earl. 2014. Race, Sport and the American Dream. Carolina Academic Press.

Hattery, Angela J. 2010. Intimate Partner violence. Rowman & Littlefield.

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