September 11, 2015

Doesn't matter who said it, but here's who said it

League moving to educate players, curb off-ice issues

I'm in a particularly blunt sort of mood, so I'm not going to sugar-coat any of this. Most of the morning on Twitter, people have been talking about this article. The first and last quotes in it are why.

The first:
"I think as players we're all aware of it," superstar center Sidney Crosby told ESPN.com this week at the Player Tour event. "The league and Players' Association do a good job of informing us and making us well-aware of certain situations and consequences, things like that. I think it's something that everyone, whether you're a professional hockey player or a professional athlete, in general everyone is trying to educate each other in terms of situations you could be put in and making the right decisions. ..."
And the last:
"You don't like the negative image on the league," said Team USA Olympian Justin Faulk, of the Carolina Hurricanes. "But it is a little bit of a reminder that you need to be careful with everything you do. You don't want to jeopardize something in your life, let alone someone else's. You don't want to hurt your team, the league, or have an affect on someone else's life that can be bad."
Anyone care to take a stab at why one of these is good while the other is bad? No? Maybe they look the same to you? Because to many other people, they look like total ends of the spectrum - one end being how most people think, and the other being completely out of touch with most people's reality.

The difference comes down to this: "in terms of situations you could be put in" versus "or have an affect on someone else's life".

Crosby is the out of touch one here. He obviously believes that things just happen to him - that he's a spectator who has no control over anything that he's around. He gets "put into situations", rather than puts himself into situations. It's extremely passive wording, and it tells you a lot about how he views the world.

He doesn't see himself as a part of the world, so nothing is ever his fault. His own actions have no meaning, as he apparently believes that they don't affect anyone else. He views himself as a victim and takes no responsibility for himself; if bad things happen to him, then it's always someone else's fault. After all, how could it possibly be his fault if he has no control over anything? It's the view a child would take - or someone not very emotionally mature, at least.

Faulk's view is the more common view of people outside of sports - that his actions have consequences and those can hurt others, sometimes severely if he's not careful. He believes that he's at least partly responsible for the bad things that might happen to him. He is not a victim nor emotionally immature, but an adult who knows that what he does impacts himself as well as others around him. His view is one of someone who actively sees himself as a part of the world around him.

The problem is that most of the players in the NHL (as well as professional hockey in other leagues) view life like Crosby does, and not like how Faulk does.

Bad things "just happen" to players; it's not their fault. Even on the ice, you see this victim mentality where, if someone gets hit clean but hard, they think that it's a dirty hit and they were being singled out intentionally to be injured. You almost never hear anyone say, "I was sort of in a bad position when he hit me." Instead it's usually something like, "It was a dirty hit."

So it's no wonder that no one off of the Chicago Blackhawks would say anything bad about Patrick Kane's rape allegations. They supported their teammate because that's what teammates do - but also because they probably don't believe he did anything wrong. But how can a player know how to respect women when players don't even respect each other?

(Incidentally, this Washington Post report suggests that only 35% of rapes that happen are reported, and of those that are reported to the police, only around 7% are false accusations. Therefore, the odds that Kane actually did it are really pretty high. So before doing that classic knee-jerk reaction of "this woman's trying to just get money out of him" rationalization, look up the statistics.

Also, admitting to being raped is a profoundly emotionally painful, intensely shameful, and humiliating experience, and most people who have had that happen to them don't like talking about it in the first place to anyone - which is why most don't report it. So do you really think someone would want to do that in court in front of potentially hundreds of people? Especially in this culture of victim-shaming? And against a high-profile man such as a professional athlete?)

Two things need to happen to help hockey players help themselves, quite frankly.

One, they need to realize that they're a part of the world. They need to know that these situations that they "happen to be put into" are situations that they actually put themselves into. Even if they're just standing there, not saying anything to anyone, they're still a part of the situation. It's their choice, it's their decision, it's their body that they put there.

The Nuremberg Defense - "I was told to do it" - doesn't work in real life, you know. They still have the choice to say "no". They still have the option to walk away. The decision to follow through with something is still theirs, no matter what someone else tells them to do.

The second thing that they need to realize is what respect really is, what it means, and how to respect others. That starts with respecting themselves, and respecting their teammates. Because once they learn how to properly respect themselves and others, chances of them becoming a crime statistic seriously go down. That includes a team's front office and their coaching staff as well, frankly.

Part of the problem as well is that some athletes see women as fans see them - they're things; commodities to use and / or enjoy. So if they don't like being used by others without their express permission, then maybe they ought to not use others without their express permission. Being treated how you want to be treated - and not how you are treated - is almost never a bad rule of thumb.

This isn't hard, but if you're not taught it like most kids are, then it becomes hard. This doesn't start when guys hit the pros. This aspect of hockey culture starts way before then. And maybe they ought to address it when it starts, so that the NHL doesn't have to figure it out after the fact.

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