In the early morning hours following Super Bowl XLIX, Pro Football Hall of Famer and NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp was arrested on charges of assault and solicitation of prostitution. Police reports state officers were called to investigate a noise complaint in a hotel where Sapp was staying where they encountered two women—one of whom said she was assaulted by the former linebacker. According to the report:
“The incident was alleged to have occurred in a guest room, after meeting in the lobby where the females were as escorts. During a meeting in the room, an argument ensued, allegedly over money and the altercation turned physical, spilling out into the hallway.
During the investigation detectives were able to establish that an act of prostitution occurred …. Sapp was detained and transported to Phoenix Police Headquarters. While there he was questioned and admitted involvement in the act of prostitution, but denied assaulting the females. Minor injuries consistent with a struggle, were observed by investigators on both females.”
The case is similar to an incident that unfolded last month, in which CBS sports announcer and former NBA player Greg Anthony was arrested in a reverse prostitution sting run by Washington, DC police. According to reports, Anthony – a father of four – used his computer to arrange a meeting and proposition a woman he assumed to be a prostituted person but who was in fact an undercover officer.
Sapp and Anthony’s respective employers, The NFL Network and CBS, are taking the charges seriously. Sapp has already been fired, while Anthony has been suspended indefinitely and will not be working for the remainder of the basketball season.
Both companies should be commended for acting quickly and decisively. Taking a strong, public stance against employees paying for sex clearly sends the message that sex-buying is not a victimless crime and that it will not be tolerated by either organization.
With the sports world still reeling from Ray Rice’s domestic abuse case, the national dialogue on athletes, masculinity, and violence against women is more prominent than ever. And while it’s probably a little premature to cite the networks’ action as an indication that pro-sports organizations are starting to recognize sex-buying as an extension of gender-based violence, we hope more companies will follow suit, acknowledge sex-buying as a harmful and exploitative crime and adopt similar zero tolerance policies.