Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Sunday, January 25, 2004

More on Georgia Student Case: The news coverage and public outrage over the Marcus Dixon case continues to grow. A group called "Act4Justice" has a "Save Marcus Dixon" website, which invites you to sign a petition and donate money to Dixon's legal fund. It also has a question and answer with the imprisoned man. You can also visit, which tells more about the case and asks for support. BET presents both sides of the case and then asks the reader to decide: Did the punishment fit the crime?

All of this helps to highlight the incredible influence that sports can have on the legal system. No matter your thought on this case, it is almost certain that had Dixon not been a star athlete, he most likely would be serving his prison sentence with little fanfare and almost no media attention. For certain, a number of advocate groups in Georgia would have taken up his case, but would it have made any difference?

The reasons for this seem fairly straightforward. To begin with, sports and sports stars already live squarely in the spotlight of the media. It is natural that if a legal matter affects such a figure, more attention is paid to it than normal. This can also be seen when dealing with entertainment figures, politicians and other high-profile individuals. Moreover, Dixon has been consistently portrayed as a "role model" and an African-American male that raised himself up from a less than beneficial childhood to become a great student and stellar athlete. The role that sports may have played in this cannot be underscored. Athletes are often idolized by society at large, and those that excel in athletics are viewed as success stories. In addition, the pride and sense of accomplishment felt by a star athlete can often give a confidence that may be lacking from a less-than-privileged background.

No matter what the reason, if Dixon does indeed receive a lesser sentence, he can give a large amount of thanks to his natural athletic talent. Whether this is right or wrong is another debate, but it showcases that sports can impact the legal system as much as the law impacts sport.