Sports Law Blog
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Thursday, March 25, 2004

Why Sports Matters in Law: ESPN reports that Kobe Bryant's accuser has asked the judge to set a trial date as quickly as possible if the state's case against the basketball star. Her mother, in a letter to the judge, describes the horror her daughter has gone through, receiving death threats, being hounded by the media and having to move to four different states.

Obviously, all of this attention stems from Bryant's status as a basketball star and this provides a clear example of how sports can impact the law (and not vice versa). More Americans have learned about the criminal justice system through this case than in any proceeding since the OJ trial. In addition, new terms such as "rape shield law" have entered the discourse of sports fans and ESPN commentators. In a way, this is good, because the public is learning of the plight of rape victims, and the potential dangers to those accused of rape. However, even with rape shield laws, the public and the media have managed to ascertain the identity of the accuser, making her life a living hell. Could this prevent other victims of rape at the hands of sports stars from coming forward? Absolutely. Call it the "rape sports law" but this case could really make true victims hesitant to voice complaints. And in the long run, this is clearly bad for the interaction of sports and the law.


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