Since Jameis Winston and other professional football players have graced our national news, I’ve not watched football. As one writer penned, most college and professional teams subtly state, “Listen, if you want to hate, go ahead. We’ll keep on winning. That’s the bottom line here: winning.“
In the two years since a woman on the Florida State campus accused Winston of sexual assault — throughout the initial investigation, Winston missed one game. To Florida State, yelling “Fu*k her in the pu**y” in a crowded lunch room is worth a one game suspension. But rape? Nada.
By the time both college and professional football seasons conclude, Winston will have applied for the NFL Draft and leave school, child abuse charges of Minnesota Vikings Petersen and spousal abuse by Baltimore Ravens Rice will come and go.
Most of us demand rapists and abusers be jailed, beaten or hanged. We scream, “No mercy.” For indeed, they deserve none. But then we punish the victim we’re fighting for? Why? We demand justice for victims, yet choose to do injustice? We print names, addresses, discuss personal motives, what they wore, what they said. We shun victims for something they didn’t commit? Why? For a goddam game?
Our strategy for dealing with rape has failed abysmally. Female students and women are raped in appalling numbers, yet the rapist almost invariably goes free. The New York Times reported more than 90 percent of college campus rapes are committed by a relatively small percentage of men — possibly as few as 4 percent — who rape repeatedly, averaging six victims each. Yet these serial rapists overwhelmingly remain at large – free to rape again.
Well, if you’re a number one ranked team with a very talented, albeit idiotic, quarterback or running back, it’s about the bottom line: winning. However, if society is genuinely interested in preventing sexual or physical assault, then we need to overhaul how we think about assault and what to do about it. To do this, we must forgo winning at all costs.
That’s why I’ve refused to wrap myself in either college or professional football.
At the end of the day, I’ve concluded college and professional football is nothing more than a contest pitting a bunch of well-compensated, no-neck entertainers against a millionaire boys’ club for possession of the nation’s fall sporting ritual. We as a nation must summon central issues, including the question of what makes one man walk the line and while management looks the other way.
As in any other game, success depends on the ability of the team to instill in its members a sense of shared values and goals. And personally, whenever I see or read about Florida State University, I question its ‘shared vision.’
It’s all about the bottom line: winning.