Last week Harvard University suspended the season of its Men’s Soccer team. The school did this in response to findings of a 2012 Google document in which the team members assessed the attractiveness of members of the Women’s Soccer team. The dubbed “Scouting Report” was a vulgar description of these young ladies that had a numbered rating scale of their looks and assigned to each lady a nickname and sexual position.
The scandal came to light once the “Scouting Report” was published by Harvard’s student newspaper The Crimson. These young men were brazen in their actions as this document was publicly searchable until recently. Once the story of this hit national news outlets the school was forced to act. The team may have not had their season suspended but after they were not very forthcoming in the initial investigation and that the behavior was not just isolated to just 2012 but continued up to 2016 the institution was forced to do something.
The Harvard Soccer team was having a successful season and was ranked nationally and expected to make it to the NCAA tournament. This incident comes at time in the country where the term “locker room” has been a hot topic in the news thanks to President Elect Trump’s own recorded disrespect of the opposite sex. Harvard took a bold step in taking a team off the field, which I am not confident that most universities would have not stepped up under similar circumstances.
Look at the football program at Baylor University. They let go of Coach Art Briles prior to this season because of issues they were having with sexual assault cases. Now at Baylor it was a much more widespread issue than the football program and I do believe that Briles became kind of a scapegoat for institutional failure. Honestly that’s the case at most of these schools where there is a campus issue but it is obvious that there are some special considerations are given to the athletic programs.
The scandal at Baylor is not unique to them, as University of Tennessee just settled a Title IX lawsuit regarding allegations of sexual assault from eight women on campus. The women allege that there were raped by student-athletes and the institution fostered a culture to allow this kind of thing to thrive. Now school contends that they did not encourage such a culture but still ponied up the money. Some of the most damning allegations came against the football program and Coach Butch Jones. There is even a story in the lawsuit of a player getting beaten up by his teammates for encouraging a young lady to come forward with her story of being assaulted. Of course this is denied by the school and Coach Jones.
Now both Baylor nor Tennessee have entertained the idea of shutting down the football seasons at their respective schools. I would love to tell you that these are all just one off or isolated cases but there have been scandals at schools all over the United States. Harvard has uncovered another issue with their Men’s Cross Country team having similar behavior as their soccer team. There is no word yet of any coming punishment for the Cross-Country team. The way the university has handled things so far has garnered them a lot praise and that’s simply because it’s a move that most schools would not have made.
What institutions have shown us in the past is that they would rather not make waves in the press instead of attacking the dangerous culture on campus. These problems of misogyny, sexual harassment and rape run much deeper than the athletic programs and are usually a result of our society not valuing women. The sports just put these things in a higher profile space.
Keith B. Holt
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