Recently, I wrote about how issues regarding sexual assault, abuse and violence are tough to grapple with as sports fans and received an overwhelming response from men and women saying they were feeling many of the same things. Yesterday I posted a few things on Twitter regarding sexual assault statistics and applied them to hockey. I have included those below.
I make a lot of space for hockey in my life and so I thought that may help me and other fans get a better handle on this overwhelming societal issue. Many of the responses I got completely ignored the societal issue and instead were filled with accusations that I was holding one sports star out as a “sacrifice to the movement” despite the fact that I did not refer to him in any of those posts.
It seems like many are having trouble seeing the difference between the necessity of reevaluating the way we as a society view sexual assault, abuse and violence, and the guilt or innocence of one sports star. The discussion so many people have been having this summer and for years prior is about centering victims and tearing down the barriers that so often keep them suffering in silence.
Because many of us enjoy sports, the discussion has been framed in a sports context. The conversations we have been having involve taking to task the approach to these issues by sport leagues, teams and society in general and demanding that they do better. One man’s guilt or innocence, the intricacies of one case… these single events do not change the necessity of that conversation.
The criticisms of the handling of these issues by sports leagues and teams over the past few years will not suddenly become less valid because of how one legal case turns out. Victims of sexual assault, abuse and violence will not suddenly vanish because of how one legal case turns out. Perpetrators of sexual assault, abuse and violence will not suddenly disappear because of how one legal case turns out. The massive power imbalance between those who commit such acts and those who are the victims will not suddenly disappear because of how one legal case turns out.
I hope people are willing to remember this and focus on the important, all-encompassing conversation as we go forward instead of making these issues solely about one case.