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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Athletes Are Less Likely to be Arrested than Average Citizens

Here's a statistic that some might find surprising. Professional athletes are less (not more) likely to be arrested than the average citizen ("Surprising Numbers About NFL Arrest Rates"). According to FBI statistics, in 2010 while one in every 45 NFL players (2.2%) is arrested, the national arrest rate is 1 in 23 (4.2%). To be sure, NBA players are slightly more likely to be arrested than folks on the street (5.1%), but the MLB rate is 2.1%. Why does it seem like just the opposite is true? That is, why does it seem that athletes are more likely to be rogues and the average citizen? Simple. When the average person is arrested, it typically isn't news, but when a professional athlete is arrested, it usually is.

It is somewhat analogous to the attention the Catholic Church has faced because of the Catholic priests who have sexually abused children. Due to press coverage, many people assume that Catholic priests abuse children at higher rates than other males (and celibacy is typically held up as the cause), but such an assumption is wrong. Catholic priests do not abuse children at higher rates than other males (celibate or not). It's just when a priest gets caught, it's front page news, but when, say, a high school or college coach gets caught, it usually ends up in the local section, unless, of course, they used to work for Joe Paterno.

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