Does Lacrosse Cause Violence? NBC’s Today Investigates “Aggressive” Sport

<p><img hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="media/2006-04-21-NBCTodaylacrosse.jpg" />Does lacrosse lead to rape? NBC’s <i>Today</i> show seriously investigated that question in the April 21 edition. Matt Lauer teased the story with this scintillating query: </p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right: 0px;"><p>Lauer: &quot;And still to come, the Duke lacrosse rape case<b>. Is there something about the sport of lacrosse that causes players to act out of bounds?&quot;</b></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Natalie Morales furthered this line of thinking when she introduced the segment at 7:32AM EDT: </p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right: 0px;"><p dir="ltr" style="margin-right: 0px;">Morales: &quot;But first, Matt, the investigation into the alleged rape by some members of the Duke lacrosse team. It's not the first time the players there have been in trouble a<b>nd it has some wondering whether this aggressive sport leads to aggressive behavior</b>.&quot;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Now, NBC may not be aware of it, but it just might be <i>possible</i> that the Duke lacrosse students are <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/output/campus/cst-nws-duke21.html">innocent</a>. Undeterred, reporter Ron Mott investigated the danger that this sport poses to the United States. An NBC graphic helpfully set the tone by labeling the students as &quot;<b>out of control athletes</b>.&quot; Mott stated, &quot;A law professor has been appointed to head a campus committee to figure out if something was wrong with the lacrosse program.&quot; James Coleman, the Duke professor in question, had this to say about the accusations: </p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right: 0px;"><p>Coleman: &quot;The reaction in the community should have been, no chance that a Duke student did that. I don't believe that.<b> But obviously something is wrong because people are willing to believe that it could have happened</b>.&quot; </p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">So it’s the seriousness of the charges that matter? Something <i>is</i> wrong because something <i>could</i> be wrong? Despite the fact that the professer isn’t a reporter or anchor, his comments are illuminating. NBC showed their bias here by having no one of reputation who disagreed with the assertion that aggressive sports &quot;lead&quot; to violence. In fact, the only person who disputes the theory is a Duke tennis player. And he simply denies that the players are savages. What proof does NBC provide? Well, according to Mott, lacrosse violence has &quot;happened elsewhere.&quot;</p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right: 0px;"><p dir="ltr" style="margin-right: 0px;">Mott: &quot;Several players at St. Johns University in New York were <b>acquitted of gang rape charges in the early nineties.</b> Five years ago, a prep school in Baltimore disbanded its team after teammates watched a porn movie starring one of the players. And now, Duke.&quot;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">The B-roll video from the New York case has a graphic that labeled it as being from 1990. So, let me see if I have this right: <i>Today</i>’s evidence consists of lacrosse players who were <b>acquitted </b>of rape <b>16 years ago</b> and a case from 2001? One wonders, what will happen if it turns out the Duke University students <i>are</i> innocent? Will NBC withdraw their theory that the sport leads to assaults? Don’t hold your breath. </p>

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org