Sports Culture is Morally Bankrupt. I’m Trying to Care. But I Don’t.
I can’t find the strength to yell. Type-yell, at least.
It’s been a few weeks since the internet discovered and subsequently exploded over the case of Brock Turner, the former Stanford University swimmer who was sentenced to a mere six months for raping a women behind a dumpster. Hot takes are flying, thinkpieces are churning out. About everything rape: race, class, college.
I sit there, watch my timeline fly by in record speed. Every time I think of something to tweet, I stop. I don’t have the energy. Everything has been said, I think. But yet I feel like perspectives are missing. Not mine, though. At least in my mind. There’s nothing that I can say that would add anything to the conversation other than drowning in echo chambers and Group Think.
Everything being said is correct: rape culture is extremely pervasive. College campuses have a problem addressing rape culture. In 2016, Title IX is now more associated with rape and sexual assault than women’s athletics. Privilege played a role; it pays to be a White male. We knew all this.
Sports trump women at major college campuses. See Baylor, Florida State and Vanderbilt. We’ve built a sense of entitlement within student-athletes that they feel invincible. But again, tell me something that you and I don’t already know. It bears repeating for what?
Sports culture is morally bankrupt. Yet we try to attach inconsistent platitudes to a culture that consistently rejects it. And we don’t stop. Nor do we want to.
We lament sports culture’s never-ending issues with violence against women but we ignore unequal pay of women athletes. We complain about college football abuse of not-so-student athletes but we line the NCAA’s pockets every March. We complain about steroids in baseball but we ignore the exploitation of young Latino players trying to get to the Majors.
It’s an acceptable contradiction.
We are all guilty of this. It’s an assuaged guilt. Sports culture is so ingrained into the fiber of us all that we are openly ready and willing to ignore what we don’t like.
Ray Rice happened but we still watch football. But we want to fix football. Yet we enabled a culture that allowed for a Ray Rice to happen in the first place. And again, we yell about what the league didn’t do but what we as a general culture seemingly allowed. Because we are flawed. And sports, as a microcosm of society, should be allowed to be as such.
To watch sports means that you accept the trash that comes with it. It’s DNA is unscrupulous and we’ve divined that to be.
I’m trying to care enough to ignore this moral stalemate and fight through it. But it’s a struggle.
Because I am part of the problem.
I watch sports. I’ve paid money to watch sports. I’ve written about sports. I’ve once wanted to be paid to write about sports.
I am a woman. I am a victim of sexual assault. I was once raped.
But that doesn’t stop me from getting emotionally invested in a culture that truly does not care about me.
I live with this moral contradiction a lot more open than others. Because I care too much about the humanity of others. But I openly participate in a culture that at its core is extremely inhumane. Internally.
I yelled about Florida State and Jameis Winston. And was rightly asked what I was going to do about it. And I thought I was going to do something. But I stopped. Because in my mind, it’s a mountain too high to climb, a hole too deep to get out of.
I’ve added the rocks, I’ve used the shovel.
So maybe that’s what informs my thoughts. Feeling as if we’ve fed this monster too big to tame. And what can little ol’ me do about it. But I sneak the monster some food because I’ve been Stockholm Syndrome’d enough to keep doing it.
Sports are devoid of morals because we as humans are. Naturally. Because we struggle with it. So sports can struggle with it too. Because sports culture is a reflection of our culture. So in short, we’re all fucked.