Adolescent Sports Violence-when Prosecutors Play Referee. Making Criminals out of Child Athletes, but Are They the Real Culprits?
Schuette, Jason R.
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With increasing regularity, prosecutors across the United States are being asked to delineate a line between aggressive play and acts of violence that exceed an acceptable level. This includes the once docile province of youth sports. With that, this comment is devoted to violence in youth sports and the issues involved when criminal penalties are brought against child athletes. Part I analyzes the historical ideology behind the rise of youth sports programs in America; which consequently, is important in comprehending the ideals and beliefs that are intended to be fostered under the guise of youth sport. Part II discusses the modem mentality motivating today's youth sports programs. Focusing specifically on how society has begun to steadily distance itself from the true ideals youth sports were initially designed to generate, to a more success-oriented philosophy. Part III analyzes how adults play a major role in fueling the modem sports mentality. Part IV examines when violence intrudes into the realm of youth sports and prosecutors become involved. This is accomplished with an analysis of the case surrounding a 15-year-old boy from Northbrook, Illinois who was charged with two counts of aggravated battery for a cross-check delivered during the waning seconds of a high school junior-varsity hockey game. Part V will discuss the use of legal remedies in an attempt to control violence in adolescent sports and why they do not provide a formidable solution towards the elimination of violence. Finally, Part VI will attempt to formulate a positive and beneficial alternative, other than prosecution, to change the modem mentality conduct in sports and stem the tide of violence. Ultimately, this comment will argue that charging adolescents with criminal penalties for their roles in perpetrating on-the-field violence will be unsuccessful to eliminate the growing nemesis that is violence in youth sports. Indeed as the true offenders are the adults responsible for reinforcing and promoting unsportsmanlike behavior, in pursuit of ever-elusive goals.