Americans think that sports stars get more lenient treatment from the law, but overwhelmingly reject the idea that courts should make examples of celebrities
On June 26th, New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez was arrested by Massachusetts police in connection with the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player. Hernandez has been charged with murder and sources close to the investigation say Lloyd may have been killed because had information about a double homicide in 2012 in which Hernandez was involved. While some speculate that Hernandez's conduct may stem from a troubled past, the case has brought a new conversation about whether sport stars think they are above the law and whether they are treated fairly by the justice system.
According to research from YouGov, Americans agree with the assesment that sports stars think they are above the law. 66% agree with the statement "Sports stars often think they are above the law", while only 15% find the contrary - "sports stars generally do not think that they are above the law" - closer to their views.
Accompanying the perception that sports stars believe they are above the law, the majority of Americans also think that they get treated more leniently by the police and courts. 65% of Americans say that sports stars are treated more leniently, while 18% say they are treated the same as everyone else and only 3% say they are treated more harshly.
Yet even while the widespread belief exists that sports stars and celebrities have it easier when they run into trouble with the law, Americans overwhelmingly rejected the impulse to make an example of them. 88% of Americans say that when famous people commit crimes they should be treated the same as an ordinary person. 1% say they should get easier treatment and 7% say it should be harsher.
Awareness of Hernandez case
The same poll also analyzed how much respondents had heard of the Aaron Hernandez case. 77% of Americans had heard at least a little about the case, and 27% had heard a lot. The percentage of those who heard a lot of the case was the highest in the Northeast where Hernandez plays.