So, it is not often I go outside of Oregon football and recruiting for a Flock Talk piece, but I was very impressed by the staff at The Opening Finals and their decision to have Brenda Tracy speak to the entire group and share her story that I felt compelled to share my thoughts along with the topic in general.
I know our role. We are sports writers; more specifically, we cover college football recruiting, but I am grateful that Duck Sports Authority allows me to step outside of that comfort zone to discuss things that are far more important than football games. I never write a story including Brenda without first talking to her and she is so gracious when I do, I feel honored to do whatever little part I can to make the world a better place through sports.
I do relate everything back to Oregon football and recruiting, but this is about so much more than football.
I also want to thank everyone here for their patience with my occasional detours away from Oregon and recruiting. It's my opportunity to make a small impact.
I have had a few people reach out to me to thank me for the piece; it is personal to me as my wife was a victim of sexual assault long before we met and I find the power of the message too important. I challenge every other recruiting outlet to join me in taking these strides. We can be more than just guys who get some good intelligence about where a recruit might be going; we have an audience and we have the power of the pen (keyboard) which is definitely a strong tool at our disposal.
Athletics can be very powerful. Think about this, would there be a Civil Rights Act without Jackie Robinson? What would the 1936 Olympics have looked like without Jessie Owens proving Hitler wrong?
College athletes – football players especially – have a status in their community. They are treated like celebrities from a very early age and it becomes too easy to allow that notoriety to change them. Administrators across the nation have failed to protect their campuses; some in horrific and well documented fashion.
What if the administrators saw their student-athletes filling a void they have created? What if these 162 young men who will all receive some form of football scholarship get to campus and set higher standards? Zero tolerance for sexual violence.
As Tracy says it makes no sense to send an 18-year old man to college then expect the colleges to fix them and teach them what true consent means. They need to learn earlier; and this is where The Opening organizers really started to make positive change. By making the event about more than football, it allowed them to potentially change the world through sports and that is always a good thing.