Consider that when a talented, successful athlete reaches his peak in his sport, he has been raised in an environment of entitlement. Maybe not an environment of material entitlement, but the specific acknowledgement that he is special, important and more valuable than other members of his team because of his sheer ability.
In youth league, he is the young athlete who is noticed. He may miss a couple practices or show up late, but he still plays in the game. If he doesn’t, his parents are there to lobby with other parents.
Then he reaches high school and he has been conditioned to understand he has a special, once-in-a-lifetime talent. Coaches build a team around him, local sports reporters write about him, girls surround him and, if he fails that big test, the coach will lobby the teacher for a retake or something to ensure he is eligible to play. By this time, college recruiters and even scouts are watching him. The stakes are higher. The scholarship or contract is in reach.
One other thing, he also can access his smart phone and watch porn 24/7 without anyone knowing. It doesn’t affect him, right? This is his sex education. Porn. It has been since middle school or before when parents gave him a phone to use.
Then he makes it to the college athletics machine – or even signs a contract to play pro ball. Boosters surround him making sure his family is comfortable. Boosters also take care of expenditures and make sure he is well compensated for his play (under the table of course). If he gets into legal trouble, he has some of the best lawyers in town available to him – either pro bono or paid for by those same boosters.
The coach receives a police report and immediately goes into protect mode. He calls his contact on the police force. Coach gets the report and knows witness names and knows the story. He can dispatch those same boosters to buy the silence of witnesses and even victims. If it gets too far, he puts in a call to the District Attorney who he endorsed, along with other city council members, legislators and even the mayor, to put them in their leadership positions. His teammates line up behind him, ready to defend him in this off the field battle. They are used to the fight. They are a family. They stick together. Right or wrong they defend the family. He's a good guy.
Of course the media will swirl with conjecture, and his fans will come to his defense. They’ll go after the victim, the reporter, the district attorney, and anyone involved with intimidating or harming the athlete. It wasn’t his fault, by the way. He's a good guy. He was set up.
Academically, he has tutors assigned by the academic advisors in the athletic department. The academic advisors help the star athlete choose classes that best suit him with professors who are friendly to the athletic department. They are at his disposal. Of course, how can an athlete juggle a full time job of playing for a school, uncompensated, and have time to study and perform academically? The NCAA and the Athletic Department rely on him to perform on the field. There are bills to pay!
And the girls. They are everywhere. Willing to do anything to win his affection and validation. Anything.
Let’s not forget the fans. The fans surround him and regard him as a family member. They KNOW him. He is a nice guy. They met him at an autograph signing and heard about the work he did at the children’s hospital. He is a class act. A stand-up guy. The fans are his loyal defenders. They also ensure he is not accountable and remains entitled. But, let him cause a game changing fumble, and he is dead to them. The perks are pulled. He is now vulnerable. By the way, he is around 21 now. His frontal lobe is not yet developed. It may even be extremely damaged and harming his judgment and emotional regulation.
We haven’t even moved to the athlete becoming a professional athlete at 22 or 23. An agent once told me, “If it even gets to the point that a police report is made, I haven’t done my job.” Precious. Just see the college perks above and add millions of dollars and immense power to it. People are now benefitting, even taking, as much as they can from him. Like parasites to a host. Privilege? Oh yes. Throughout his life. As long as he performs. Regular tasks like paying bills, paying taxes, creating a budget, household maintenance - the basics - are done by someone else. Basic life skills have not been taught, and for many, not modeled - nor has a healthy relationship based on equality and respect. So many women are available, why work at a relationship? Why put in the time? Take what you can get because you're only here once. Intimacy is a foreign concept where sex becomes the only intimate connection available.
Compartmentalize it all so he can perform on the field. It's his job now. That’s it. Then he’ll receive the privilege he’s due. And when he leaves athletics and this is his norm, no one is there to put the pieces of his life together. No one is there to undo the socialization and psychology. Everyone is gone. He is used up. The masses got the privilege they needed from him. It's possible he is now 26-27 when his career ends and his frontal lobe is just done developing.
So yes, Brock Turner is athlete privilege. Story upon story emerges of similar trend. There are many victims. In a twisted way, Brock is a victim. Those who surrounded him did not teach him. So Brock created another victim by his own action. But let's get to know this culture. Let's work to undo it for the many athletes who are leaders in our communities. Let's work to change athlete culture so they can change the rest of society through future athletes.
To be clear, I enjoy athletes. I married one. I find them complex. I also find them to be an extremely vulnerable group, sometimes too naive to realize achieving this dream can be a great blessing, and a great curse. I work with them to change this culture and know the power they have to change society on this issue - while recognizing the potential, and even pressure, to encourage it. They are exploited but we, the public don't see it. Sometimes they don't, either. Simply put, this is the life they have known since childhood.
Know that the privilege they experience is, at first, well intentioned. But it's dangerous and it lays a foundation of destructive behavior that can destroy lives. Ask yourself how you've contributed. You may be surprised to know you have.