March Madness

It’s March and I’m Mad

I’m not a fan of college basketball. It’s too amateur, too overhyped, and it is not in the least bit nostalgic (my undergrad school didn’t have a basketball team). But, thankfully, I can still participate in all the madness. I’m not talking about the brackets or the teams that made the “Sweet 16.” I’m talking about sexual assault and no self-respecting college basketball tournament would be complete without an Ivy-league school investigating yet another athlete accused of sexual assault.

This month, the spotlight was on Yale. The university expelled Jack Montague, captain of the men’s basketball team, after an independent investigation determined he had sexually assaulted another student. Unlike other schools who have failed to even report similar allegations (let alone investigate), Yale actually did something this time. It held an investigation and made a decision to effectively bench the team’s star athlete in the face of the single most important event in college basketball. Go Bulldogs!

After the captain was released, however, his teammates showed up to practice wearing T-shirts with his nickname and number. The team’s display of brotherhood sparked a backlash on campus and students held a “chalk-in” urging the team to "stop supporting a rapist” and “dismantle men’s athletic privilege."

Division I athletes entertain fans with riveting games, generate enormous amounts of revenue for their athletic programs, and currently the greatest threat to campus safety. A study done in the mid-90’s revealed that male student-athletes commit one in five college sexual assaults. Although they made up only 3.3% of the population at schools with Division I sports programs, they accounted for 19% of sexual assault perpetrators (Benedict-Crosset Study). Recent studies showed that twenty-percent of perpetrators were repeat offenders (United Educators).

The consequences for a star athlete accused of rape, for example, range from suspension from the team or in most cases…nothing! Division I schools, such as Notre Dame, are notorious for dropping the ball when it comes to reporting and investigating their athletes. That is madness!

Duke’s head basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski (better known as “Coach K”) recently expressed his feelings about the game and its ability to “unite the whole country.” He then added (or warned) viewers not to “mess it up, its too damn good.” If “messing it up” means holding athletes accountable for their crimes, excluding athletic departments from investigations, and eradicating the rape culture supported by college athletes, then that is what I hope happens.

Although I may not be as patriotic as Coach K, I do agree that college basketball is too damn good. Damn good at protecting “star athletes.” Damn good at smothering sexual assault allegations. And damn good at promoting rape culture.

 

By: Antionette Rodriguez