Feature

College murder: Blaming lacrosse

George Huguely V, who played for Virginia’s top-ranked men’s lacrosse team, has been accused of killing his former girlfriend, Yeardley Love, after she was found battered and lying in a pool of blood.

What is it about lacrosse? asked Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post. “The question has to be asked” after the murder of Yeardley Love, a member of the University of Virginia women’s lacrosse team. George Huguely V, who played for Virginia’s top-ranked men’s team, has been accused of killing Love, his former girlfriend, after she was found battered and lying in a pool of blood. Huguely, like many lacrosse players, is the product of a cloistered world of affluent families and elite prep schools, with a track record of arrogance, privilege, and explosive anger. He once assaulted a teammate in a jealous rage, and a female cop who arrested him for public drunkenness had to Taser Huguely to subdue him. She later called the 6-foot-2 athlete the “most hateful and most combative college kid I ever dealt with.” Inevitably, his arrest in his ex-girlfriend’s murder brings to mind the infamous 2006 Duke University lacrosse case, in which a group of drunken players hired a black stripper and were later accused—and acquitted—of raping her. Oh, please, said Tom Robinson in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. If Love and Huguely had been geology majors instead of lacrosse players, would a hysterical media be calling this a “geology slaying”? Lacrosse does not teach young men to kick in a young woman’s door or slam her head against the wall, as Huguely is accused of doing. It’s absurd to indict an entire sport for the sin of one person; was football responsible for quarterback Michael Vick’s torture and abuse of fighting dogs? But to the “class warriors” in the media, the narrative of privilege run amok is irresistible, since lacrosse is played largely by young white men from upper-class backgrounds. Lacrosse had nothing to do with the death of Yeardley Love.

It’s the culture of sports, and not just lacrosse, that’s to blame, said Sally Jenkins in The Washington Post. Talented young athletes are deified in our society, and given permission to binge drink, break rules, and treat women like trophies. “We are hatching physically gifted young men in incubators of besotted excess and a vocabulary of ‘bitches and hos.’” Huguely’s brothers-in-arms on the lacrosse team “watched him smash up windows and bottles and heard him rant about Love.” Their silence protected him. Until men take responsibility “for their locker-room culture,” there will be more George Huguelys, and more battered, abused, and murdered women.

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