Thursday, May 26, 2016

Football is moving out of the Wild West

Sports Illustrated's Joan Niesen  calls it "a broken system... a crisis". What's she referring to? The prevalence of violence against women by collegiate and professional football players... and  a system that is aware of their actions and actively  shields the player from consequences in order to protect their investment in the athlete. SI's recent article, "Latest sexual violence allegations highlight broken system at Baylor" references the recently released report by Pepper Hamilton investigating how Baylor University handled numerous allegations of sexual violence by Baylor's athletes.  The report cites numerous problems with the college's response: inadequately trained administrators, lack of response to alleviate a hostile environment, and a different disciplinary process for athletes than other students.

Baylor has announced leadership changes and corrective actions based on the findings of the investigation they commissioned by Pepper Hamilton. Baylor's response is late and lackluster, coming only after intense public scrutiny of how the university mishandled numerous reports of sexual misconduct. Niesen states, "It’s the Wild West, an absence of justice, and Baylor has had no incentive to fix the landscape it created—until now."

This is where there's hope. In the past couple of years we've heard so many stories where star athletes commit acts of gender-based violence-- domestic violence or sexual assault. And we've heard over and over, how their celebrity status protected them from consequence. But, while for years, these acts remained private, victims are now speaking out, the public is noticing, organizations are being held accountable for  the actions of their players... and teammates an coaches are speaking out against violence. Concern, justice, and accountability are civilizing  the Wild West

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