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Why sure. You might have noticed that football – and hockey – are extremely violent. Most of the people who play them aren’t violent off-field, but some are.

On-field brawls are common, as at the Super Bowl, when officials had to keep breaking up fights.

Fans and viewers barely notice. It’s structural to the game, college and professional.

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You don’t have to be the University of Miami – America’s best-known Thug U – to have thuggish people on your team, and it shouldn’t be a big deal when this or that commentator notices the thug-factor, especially when it begins to produce a crime-wave in your community.

As it has at the University of Montana, where for years now its football team has really been acting up. The latest thing is a lot of rape cases, and when a member of the board of trustees stated the obvious about them –

“The university has recruited thugs for its football team and this thuggery has got to stop.”

– he got in all kinds of trouble, with the school and fans issuing indignant denials that the team is thuggish.

But – you know – a lot of football teams are thuggish. Some of the best – the winningest – are on the thuggish side.

What do we gain by denying that even well-bred university lacrosse players can be thuggish? A lot of these university sports guys drink and drug too much, are treated like royalty, etc., etc. It’s just not a good situation. It’s a situation that can create mayhem.

Rather than attacking messengers like Pat Williams, communities like Missoula should look a bit more squarely at how they recruit and treat athletes. That they have created an ongoing problem is a (you should excuse the term, given what we’re finding out about long-term health outcomes for football players) no-brainer.

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