Written by Garrett Brown – November 13th 2016
In an opinion article in the last issue of The Pacific Index, the author writes that he has an issue with how athletic programs, specifically football, were presented at Pacific University through media coverage by local news station, KGW. He wishes the reporter had interviewed coaches or players before doing a “hatchet job” on the program, with the news making it “seem as if rape was a product of the football team.” As a former athlete, I can understand that someone does not want to be pigeonholed into a stereotype or a category. However, if athletes want to combat generalizations, they need to stand up and take proactive measures that better, not only themselves and their teams, but their entire campus community. Athletes need to be more involved and address many issues revolving around sports, masculinity, sexual assault, rape and Pacific.
It does not matter how many good people are on a team. The issue is a sense of entitlement that floods sports from everything from professional leagues to high school. Research shows that athletes are dramatically overrepresented in instances of assault cases, according to a 1995 article by Crosset and Bennedict. We do not have to go very far back to see how athletes and teams perpetrate a culture of assault. This culture reaches beyond athletes all the way to the coaching staff, with the Penn State football scandal and Jerry Sandusky. Rape culture is real. Rape culture is my friend choosing to wear an extra layer when she goes out in the afternoon because she’s scared to dress how she wants to at night.
Ask any girl on campus and they will tell you how they learned to hold their car keys in between their fingers from an early age, in case they were attacked.
Rape culture does not just affect women; men are affected too by rape and sexual assault. In general, people who are affected by non-consensual experiences often choose not to speak out. I would know because I was one of them. Some time ago, I had a sexual experience that turned non-consensual. I know rape culture is real because when I was having sex with someone, it began consensual, but I later felt I could not stop. This person was not forcing me to do anything against my will, but I felt a sense of obligation, a sense that if I tried to vocalize my disinterest in continuing, something bad would happen. That is rape culture. And that is why we need more people to step up and fight for respect on campus. Here’s the thing, individuals do not want to be categorized or generalized as an athlete who does terrible things to people.
That is understandable.
However, people are asking for credit to be given simply for not being a terrible human being. We cannot give credit for the bare minimum, especially when the bare minimum was a requirement by the school and sports team. If the football team, and athletes in general, want to be respected, if they want to rise above accusations and generalizations, then they need to do more for this community. Coaches and players of all teams and sports need to unite and condemn Kasen Kunishima-Takushi and his actions. Athletes need to become advocates against assault, rape and not just pay lip service.
Simply saying you attended workshops is not enough. Being vocal and being an advocate for your community is essential for creating a safer campus environment. Plus, it’s the right thing to do. This is not about a single person, or a specific team or group at Pacific. This is about the larger campus community and protecting our integrity and safety as a whole. I believe everyone can come together to help this campus become a better, more supportive place. But that requires everyone to come together and help.