Monday, December 16, 2013

Athlete Idolatry

I have thought a lot about Jameis Winston.  He is the quarterback of the Florida State University Seminoles.  I never heard of him until there were charges hurled against him for sexual assault.  To be honest, that did perk up my interest.  I am fascinated at the billed up and idolization of athletes.  I wondered what happened in this case and learned about it almost a year later that the charges were filed by the young woman.  Really?  It wasn't headline news when it happened?  What happened to the system?  To the reporting?  The local police dropped the ball on it.  Didn't find or look for enough evidence.  Is that the case?  The officials didn't want to take down their star quarterback.  Places like Tallahassee, live and die for their football.  Like so many towns in America.  What happened here?  Well, a year after the alleged rape, they brought in an independent attorney to see if they could charge Jameis Martin with a crime.  Don't forget the tom-toms were getting louder because the Heisman Trophy vote was upon them.  Surprise, surprise.  After one year of muddled evidence gathering and interviewing, the new States attorney found that there wasn't enough evidence to file charges.  What would have happened if it had happened a year earlier, right after the alleged incident?  How proud the Heisman voters can be of their choice this year.  No one ever bothered to investigate and prove one way or another of his innocence or guilt.  He was their guy and they awarded him with the highest honor in college football.  Good job sports writers, good job.

As a society, we have a serious problem with our love of sports and our athletes.  This is a perfect recent example.  The local authorities didn't treat Jameis Winston how they would've treated any other alleged rapist.  He was their man. Their star. Their idol.  The woman was just a coed.  She wasn't bringing joy and thrills into their lives.  She got into a bad situation.  We will never know what really happened here, but I feel strongly that something did happen.  Common sense is leading me to this conclusion.  The victim's family has stood by her this whole time.  They've been pushing for justice for a year.  They have pursued every avenue to find justice for their daughter.  I am a parent.  There's no way that I would fight this hard for my child if I thought she was lying.  She had injuries.  They believed their daughter.  They have found no victory here.  She has been pilloried. 

Much like the young girl in Steubenville, Ohio, whose life and family were destroyed by her charging rape against players on the local high school football team.  They had to move because she was getting bullied and threatened. They burned down her house.  Really?  She wasn't getting any justice for two years!!! Finally, charges were filed against many of the adults that looked the other way.  Finally, she can get her life back and find some semblance of victory and justice.  

But why should it be this way?  Why do we hold our athletes up so high that everyone else pales in comparison. Does the name Kobe Bryant mean anything to you?  I firmly believed he got away with rape.  They were going to attack the victim mercilessly on the stand for her sexual history, that she dropped the charges.  When OJ Simpson was first becoming a suspect, the Los Angeles police fawned over him.  OJ was one of the greats and was raised to the highest of the highs.  No one could believe it.  Present company included, but after about 6 hours it became fairly apparent that he was involved.  Unfortunately for the justice system, the disparity between rich and regular defendants was apparent.  No one had a better team of defenders. At all cost, the best experts and lawyers took team OJ's side.  The Los Angeles prosecutor made some big errors and didn't have the money to make it a fair battle.  OJ got off.  Thankfully, he committed another crime and is currently in jail.  Not fully satisfying because he did get away with a double homicide.  No doubt.  

So, how do we change our society? How do we stop putting athletes next to God and Jesus?  I don't know.  I have already ruminated about the passion and love of sports.  I can be as guilty as anyone being swept up in the mob mentality of cheering and booing, so I don't know the answer.  Something has to change.  And for those that want to blame the women, I can't support it.  I do think people that have a lot to lose, shouldn't put themselves in compromising positions.  Then there'd be no threat of any charges.  Women, too, should think twice, maybe five times, before going anywhere with athletes.  The playing field isn't even.

Sidebars:  I finished watching my first season of Survivor.  It was fairly fun.  Still hate the disgusting eating challenges, but entertaining nonetheless. Homeland finished its third season.  Wow!  Can't see the path forward for season four, but we shall see.  Went to see the all male cast of Twelfth Night with an incredible cast of English actors.  I was kicking and screaming about going.  It was cold. It was three hours.  Really resented the whole thing, though it was originally my idea.  It was exactly what theatre is supposed to do.  It transformed me from crabby to the happiest of places. Laughing aloud many times.  It is the true definition of theatre.  Loved every bit of it.  The actors squeezed every last laugh out of every last line without chewing the scenery in any way.  Flawless. Brilliant.  If you have the opportunity to see it here in NYC, don't miss it.  Freezing here in New York City.  More snow on the way.  

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