I have always disliked sports. I don’t like playing sports and I loathe watching it in any form. I do like Title IX, however, which gives American female athletics greater recognition than in the past.
My dad tried to teach me to love baseball the moment I was out of diapers. I liked sitting in the stands with him, but all I came to enjoy were the peanuts and hot dogs. (That was before I became a vegetarian.) Needless to say, I don’t read the sports page but, recently, I did hear about a football player named Richie Incignito. His abusive behavior toward a teammate bled into the mainstream news. If a politician had threatened a colleague or made racial slurs the way Incignito did, he’d be out of a job and on his way home “to spend more time with his family.” But standards of conduct in sports seem to be different from every day life. Instead of being outraged by the player’s behavior, a number of columnist rose to his defense (“Controversy of the Week,” The Week, Nov. 22, 2013, pg. 4)
Samuel Chi of RealClearSports..com excused the conduct as similar to the military where football “has its own culture.”
Stu Bykofskyof of Pilly.com called the behavior part of a “rite of passage, toughening the rookies and bonding players into a cohesive unit.”
Christopher Gasper of The Boson Globe said the victim was worthy of contempt for exposing Incignito’s behavior and “breaking the locker room (man) code.”
Sorry guys. Both science and history repudiate the notion that bullying toughens spirits and builds camaraderie. More likely it creates alcoholics and personality disorders. Abusing a comrade doesn’t belong in a locker room or in the military, either, which takes me to my next point — the struggle between US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Senator Gillibrand wants to provide rape victims in the armed service with “an independent route outside the chain of command for prosecuting attackers .” http://news.yahoo.com/senate-showdown-over-military-sexual-assault-bill-095237937–politics.html. She thinks the current system intimidates rather than defends accusers who have legitimate complaints against their colleagues.
What’s at stake are old notions of power and being top dog. Psychologists have written for years that rape isn’t a sex crime but a desire to exert power — which may explain why the military, an institution devoted to dominance, has had to be goaded into taking rape seriously. Sadly, women play their part in promoting this male ethos of aggression. Anjelica Huston, for example, bemoaned in a recent interview that men like her father, who’s been described as a drinker, gambler, and womanizer, are a dying breed. (“Huston’s daddy complex,” The Week, 11/29/13 pg. 8) She makes no mention of other attributes of character like integrity, compassion or a sense of justice. Too bad, because a man who refuses to beat his companions into submission isn’t a wuss. He’s decent.
(Courtesy of www.wvec.som)