Monday, August 12, 2013

Are the Commodores Better Men Than David Climer Thinks?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 12, 2013 at 5:08 AM

On Sunday, David Climer at The Tennessean wrote a column about the ripple effects of the rape charges four ex-Vanderbilt football players face. How does this event affect Vanderbilt?

I'll admit that for me, "how does this affect the team?" is probably the least of the concerns surrounding this incident. But I want to focus on how Climer thinks it will affect individual team members, though the problem I'm about to point out runs all the way through the column.

Climer thinks it will affect individual team members because:

a) They might have to testify. "Vanderbilt’s presumptive starting quarterback, Austyn Carta-Samuels, is on the state’s witness list. So are four other team members: reserve tight end Dillon van der Wal, offensive lineman Jake Bernstein, wide receiver De’Andre Woods and long snapper Mack Prioleau."

b) They will be worried about what happens to their friends. "The four players charged may no longer be in school, but they have friends on the team. Those friendships carry on even though the four are now estranged from the team. It’s natural to worry about what might happen to your friends."

c) There will be gossip. "At Vanderbilt, more so than many colleges, football players are indeed student-athletes. They interact daily with other students. And charges of aggravated rape will be the talk of the campus for days and weeks to come."

That's it? Those are the only reasons Climer thinks this situation could mess with players' heads? So how big a set of monsters does Climer think Vanderbilt's football team is?

Remember, the four players are charged with "aggravated rape of an unconscious 21-year-old student." This student dated one of those four players. She likely knew other players on the team.

But even if she were a stranger, she is a human being to whom something terrible happened. And if the allegations are true, the former players not only didn't rescue her but participated in it. Any player with a girlfriend or sister — or just a sense of decency — would have to feel shaken.

So this idea that the football players' sympathy would only be with the accused and not with the victim is fucked the fuck up. The fact is this: At the center of this ugly incident is a woman who was preyed upon. And until we get evidence that says the Vanderbilt team is a toxic squad with a systemic disposition toward sexual violence, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt — and believe that the team is as sickened as the rest of the city.

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