Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June 13, 2017

Ignorance is truly a scary thing. It breeds so much contempt and hatred without the knowledge of its origins. But make no mistake, hatred is rooted in ignorance and fear.

I write about sports and football recruiting. A friend told me once that trying to mix politics into my writing was ‘bad business.’ To a degree, he is absolutely correct. I will never talk about my actual political affiliations in a sports article. I don’t even talk politics on our membership boards. There is nothing really wrong with the topic, from a business perspective, though, there is no easier way to piss off half of your potential customers than to take a specific political stance with which they disagree in an article. Sports and politics can get ugly. Sometimes there are blurred boundaries and we need to talk about topics that can cross divides. Unfortunately, there are people who conflate their political beliefs into other areas that do involve sports in a haphazard and dangerous manner.

As many know, I have written often on the growing dilemma facing collegiate athletics; the complicit permission of sexual violence and rape culture on college campuses. As someone whose wife is a rape survivor, I take this very personally. It is for that reason I have taken up Brenda Tracy’s fight with whatever small voice I can muster alongside her monumental and brave fight for change. In the social media colloquial sense, I consider Brenda to be a friend.

As is often the case when people fight for important change, ignorance rears its ugly head – and that happened yesterday. A young man (though I have to use that term loosely), challenged Brenda and sunk himself into victim blaming and shaming. He did so with a strange sense of pride. To insinuate rape occurs because of attire is monumentally stupid. Yes. I said that. It is aggravating that in today’s world there are still people who believe rape is about sex. It is not; it is about control, dominance, fear and violence.

If those thoughts were not bad enough, Garrett Hill besmirched an entire political party by insinuating that the adverse negative reaction was due to ‘liberal backlash’ rather than the recognition that he was so woefully uninformed on the topic. People have a difficult time admitting their own stupidity. No, Garrett, your words did not receive backlash because you are a “Republican in a liberal city.” They were rebuked because the words themselves are stupid.

I could recount here all of the counter examples which prove his stupidity, but I really do not need to as many on Twitter have done this for me. Who I really feel bad is for Steve Summers at eDuck. I have known Steve for almost six years. It is extremely unfortunate that the person in question happened to also write for Steve, but I think he did the right thing here.

Right now, the rape culture is still very real and very dominant in this nation. We use terms like ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘they were asking for it’ to cover up our own ignorance. We must fight the urge to defend those whose actions are un-defendable. We must fight with passion and integrity for those who deserve our compassion. You see, I think that is where Garrett made his mistake; he assumed that compassion and empathy were liberal traits and not human traits.

One thing having such a powerful advocate for the powerless helps is to expose the flaws in our society. Let’s be honest, for every Garrett Hill who publicly voices this kind of ignorance, there are a hundred more who believe this in silence. It’s why you see people defending Luke Heimlich.

An athletic scholarship is no more a right than driving a car; it is a privilege. Privileges can be revoked. I actually thought Pat Casey handled this all wrong. He allowed Heimlich to ‘exit gracefully’ and in so doing, he sent a powerful non-verbal message of non-action. He did nothing. He allowed Heimlich some sort of semi-mythical ‘hero’ status for ‘doing right by his team mates.’

My problem here, is that we are not talking about a 15-year-old with a 12-year-old girlfriend in a consensual act. We are not talking about a 4-year-old boy who did not know any better. He was fifteen. She was six. No amount of words can change that reality. Maybe he is ‘better’ now and will never reoffend. That is all fine and good but some food for thought here: if a felon cannot vote or own a firearm, why should we allow him to receive athletic scholarships? Some states do not place such harsh restrictions on felons (Thanks to Donna for that information), but should we not hold athletes to an even higher standard? They are who our children look up to; they want to emulate super-star athletes.

It’s time everyone joins Brenda Tracy’s movement to change our society through sport. I have advocated the power of sports to create change for a long time. I still believe we can change the world through athletics; we just need the courage to do so and willingness to follow a leader.

I write words; it’s the best way I know how to make my voice heard. Find your voice, find your avenue, but do not sit on the sidelines here folks. Join the fight and make college campuses a better, safer place for all. It is time to put an end to this scourge. There is no defense for rape.