I’ve written about this before, and I will continue to write about it until something is finally done about it. I’m speaking of the sexual violence that seems to be rampant in sports – so common in fact that it makes me sick to think about. Perhaps the part I find most disturbing is the unwavering backing that the accused receive from the powerful leagues, teams and universities they have behind them, and the intimidation power they wield. Stars like Ben Roethlisberger and Kobe Bryant have had charges of sexual assault against them dropped because the women were in part afraid of the publicity and attention that would come from having to testify. In both situations, the women did not relinquish their stories and the cases were mysteriously dropped, assumingly settled out of court in exchange for great amounts of money.
I have been thinking about this so much recently in part due to the ongoing investigation into Chicago Blackhawks’ superstar Patrick Kane. The 26-year-old Kane was accused of “overpowering and raping” a woman on August 2 in Buffalo, New York. The woman had bite marks on her shoulders and scratches on her legs along with evidence of being raped. Yet, by all indications, a settlement will be reached, and according to Deadspin, “any deal would likely mean that Kane would resume his hockey career without interruption.” In fact, there have already been five NHL teams that have reportedly reached out to the Blackhawks to test the waters for a potential trade for Kane.
Of course, there has been nothing proven yet against Kane as he has yet to even be charged, and it is unfair to jump to conclusions, but it is fair to attack the NHL in this situation. The fact that there are teams looking to exploit the situation to get Kane on the cheap from the Hawks is disgusting. It shows once again, that in the realm of professional sports, winning is truly the only thing that matters. No regard for the lives of women that are ruined by athletes, as long as those athletes keep performing at a high level.
Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times said that it would be practical for the team to trade Kane for many reasons, one being that ownership would “earn a massive amount of respect for putting your foot down and saying enough is enough.” I couldn’t disagree more strongly. “Putting a foot down” would be cutting Kane and campaigning for other teams not to sign him, if he is, indeed, found guilty. It is not trading Kane for a plethora of young talent and draft picks that will help to rid the team of an issue and keep the team relevant for years to come.
Even on the amateur level, teams and the “powers that be” are so concerned with winning and being absolved of blame that the victim is seemingly forgotten about, with no regard as to how she has been affected. The case of Sam Ukwuachu, the Baylor defensive end who was just sentenced to six months in prison and ten years probation for sexually assaulting another Baylor student, is a perfect example of this. After the incident occurred, Baylor did their best to cover up the situation. They sheltered Ukwuachu and performed a sub-par, in-house investigation that led to no justice being served on campus until the authorities ultimately got involved. After Ukwuachu was sentenced, the “blame game” began, and Baylor wiggled off that hook – at least for time being.
In the meantime, the victim of Ukwuachu’s assault, a virgin at the time, saw her scholarship reduced (speculation is that was because she went public) and subsequently felt the need to transfer schools. They essentially told her that if she did not feel comfortable being in class with Ukwuachu, the man who sexually assaulted her, she would have to figure something out. Without financial aid or the support of her university, the girl transferred. She had to leave her school and her friends because the football team and the image of the school were more important than she was.
It’s time for all sports leagues, both professional and amateur, and all of their fans to concern themselves with human lives, not just wins and losses. I encourage everybody reading this article to check out PACT5 and educate yourselves about sexual assault and what it does to the victims. PACT5 is a college movement to eradicate sexual assault, but it is relevant to all of any age. It is important to occasionally step back and see the bigger picture of sports and remember that it is just a game meant to entertain, but not at the cost of the well-being and security of women.