Wednesday, June 01, 2016

In Which I, and Most Other Sports Fans, are Rank Hypocrites

I've written a fair amount about sports in this space, as well as about how I feel somewhat hypocritical for my love of big time sports. Basically, high-level sports are cool and fun because they feature the world's most athletically-talented people routinely performing near super-human feats. But they are also shitty horrid cartels that drain public coffers, drain resources away from academic departments at universities, and at all levels seem to regularly cover-up sexual assaults committed by their coaches and players, often including nauseating tales of victim intimidation and harassment.

The most recent instance of this horrid trend is playing out right now at Baylor (I highly suggest Deadspin's excellent on-going coverage of it), where it's been alleged that university officials would routinely ignore sexual assaults committed by their players, as well as cover for them, suppress information from the authorities, and intimidate the victims. It's all pretty shitty, and a bunch of people are rightly losing their jobs, including Ken Starr, the man who thought it prudent to spend $10 million on investigating consensual sex between two adults but thought it not at all worth it to look into repeated claims of sexual assault.

Though despite the cosmetic changes, a lot of commentators don't believe much is being done to change the institutional culture that lead to these problem. Other, more optimistic voices, however, seem to think this is a watershed moment. I don't think I buy that line of thinking, and I present to you this screenshot I took the other day of the front page of Sports on Earth, an otherwise pretty good read:

In case you don't follow sports terribly closely, the lower picture is of James Winston, who very famously narrowly avoided charges for sexual assault due to the complicity of basically the entirety of Florida State University and the Tallahassee Police Department, who famously yukked it up and laughed their way through the press conference announcing he would not be charged. In other words, he is the virtual poster boy for major athletics organizations doing everything just short of actively facilitating their player's many sexual assaults.

The juxtaposition of these two pictures and articles is why I don't have much optimism the revelations about the many abuses at Baylor will go down as anything more than just yet another entry in this disturbing, on-going saga. Because putting them back-to-back like that is pretty much equivalent to just having a headline saying:

Baylor Case Raises Important Questions About Major Sports Teams Shielding Star Players Who Have Committed Horrible Crimes, But Fuck That: Let's Talk About The Upcoming Season!

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