We Need to Do Better

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Dec 7, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Duke Blue Devils at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In light of the Florida state prosecutor declining to pursue a case against Florida State University’s star quarterback, Jameis Winston, and the circus that was made of the ensuing press conferences, it’s time to evaluate where we, as Americans and sports fans, are in regards to sexual assault and rape.  Thankfully, we’re past the time where every crime against women was just written off as “boys will be boys.” With all societal changes, however, we are nowhere near where we need to be, not when there are so many sexual assaults that go unreported (most estimates state around 60%). In a civilized society, that is wholly unacceptable. And while this is a larger societal issue, the Winston case as well as similar cases involving stars Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger make this a sports issue worth examining.

Dec 5, 2013; Tallahassee, FL, USA; State attorney Willie Meggs announces that Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (not pictured) was not going to be charged with any crime following allegations of sexual assault. Mandatory Credit: Mike Ewen-Tallahassee Democrat via USA TODAY Sports

If you want to know why so many women don’t report sexual assaults, look at the press conference that Florida state attorney Will Meggs put on. It was unprofessional. It was unseemly. The laid back, jovial nature of the proceedings defied the weight of the charges being discussed.  Sexual assault and rape isn’t funny. Even when dismissing and not pursing charges against the accused, it still is not a laughing matter. While some of his colleagues have come to Mr. Meggs’ defense, his behavior and the tone of the press conference were inexcusable. And Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen, didn’t add anything to the story by holding his press conference on FSU’s campus with garnet and gold clad students as his backdrop.  It was a farce and everyone, from the accuser, to Jameis Winston deserved better.

Beyond the Winston case, there are others such as what occurred in  Steubenville and Maryville. All cases involving star athletes accused of vicious crimes where the local authorities at best, boggled their investigations, and at worst, covered up crimes in a concerted effort to seep them under the rug. But why? Why would law enforcement, prosecutors and other authorities put their careers on the line with their actions?

The answer: We want them to.


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