I spoke with a lot of smart people when I started putting these together. Hope you can spare a few minutes to read-up!
Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault in Sports
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/feature-stories/domestic-violence/
Ron Swanson is a fictional character from the popular TV sitcom “Parks and Recreation” made famous by Nick Offerman’s portrayal. One of the character’s quotes, unfortunately, accurately describes the approach the NCAA and its member institutions have taken in regard to preventing sexual violence and holding athletes accountable for the same.
“Normally, if given the choice between doing something and nothing, I’d choose to do nothing. But I will do something if it helps someone else do nothing. I’d work all night if it meant nothing got done.”
Two new civil complaints horrifically detail how this approach has been no laughing matter.
Smith’s Lawsuit Against Michigan Demonstrates the Cost of Speaking Up About the Emperor’s New Clothes
As the evidence that the Emperor’s clothes aren’t real grows, the cost for adding your voice to the chorus spreading that message escalates as well. No one is more painfully familiar with that price than Kellen Smith.
If everything Smith alleges is true, the campus of the University of Michigan for athletes has not been the utopia of achievement and development that those who profit off the existence of such programs market it as. In reality, it is more like a criminal organization where athletes’ bodies are exploited for the chattel profit and illicit pleasure of others. Her recently filed complaint against multiple defendants is just another sign that the Emperor is indeed naked.
At some point, as Title IX lawsuits are accumulating at Baylor University, the public becomes aware, and shock and horror prevail. The most recent filing alleged 52 rapes in a four year period from 2011 to 2014. Asserting a “show ‘em a good time” approach to football recruiting, Kendal Briles, former Head Coach Art Briles’ son and now the offensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic University was reported in the suit to have asked a student athlete, “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players.” Though not yet corroborated, the allegations are so numerous, that they reach incredulous proportions.
“Real-life Approach” Needed for Dealing with Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Sports Leagues and Beyond
As ADA Render emphasized, the needs of the victim need to be the “first priority” in cases of this nature. Both Daniel Wallach and Dr. Abrams expressed that the sports leagues, and NFL, in particular have difficulty grappling with this issue in part because they attempt to lump everything into a “one-size-fits-all” approach. The problem with that is there’s no standard victim and no standard offender.
Rape, or sexual assault is a crime that invokes nearly unilateral outrage in society, but it is one of the most misunderstood and difficult offenses to successfully prosecute. Using forced vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse as a definition of rape, it is estimated to affect one out of every five to six American women.
Déjà vu? Nearly each week, a new headline surfaces alleging that an athlete has committed an act of domestic violence or sexual assault. Recent infractions in the NFL such as those involving Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Johnny Manziel and Josh Brown, have placed domestic violence in the glaring spotlight repeatedly, along with questionable practices on the part of the league regarding subsequent investigations and punishment.
A woman, known to most by the pseudonym Jane Doe has accused pro basketball superstar Derrick Rose of gang rape in a civil lawsuit. At the beginning of the suit, TMZ launched some sensational headlines that portrayed Doe as an evil gold-digger. Then the case seemed to fade away for a while until the scorched earth tactics of both parties’ lawyers caught the attention of a number of sports law experts whose coverage seemed to propel the case back into the media spotlight as the trial date approached. Doe and her attorneys spent two days with the press in an attempt to present Doe’s side of the story which prompted Rose’s counsel to successfully petition the judge for a gag order…One of the situations that could go against Doe is the fact that she did not report the rape to police nor did she pursue civil action until nearly two years after the alleged assault. While this seems plausible, her reasons for not doing so to me are at least equally gripping; especially the statement that she didn’t want her family to find out. To some, this may seem insignificant, but not to me. I literally burst into tears when I read it because it was a prime concern to me when I was raped over thirty years ago. Until now, this has been my most carefully guarded secret. My mother went to her grave not knowing and unless, in the unlikely event my father happens across this article, the same will probably be said for him.