September 17, 2015

There's outrage because what happened was outrageous

NHL supports Blackhawks in Patrick Kane training camp decision
There was some thought that the NHL could step in to suspend Kane if the Blackhawks chose to have him at camp, evoking Section 18-A.5 of the CBA that gives Commissioner Gary Bettman the power to suspend a player that creates “a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the League.”

Obviously that’s something that isn’t happening now, but Daly’s “given the circumstances that exist now” signals that if a grand jury indicts Kane, the NHL’s approach could change. It suspended Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings after he was arrested for domestic assault. The Blackhawks also said they would reevaluate if Kane was indicted.
So here's the thing.

Yes, Patrick Kane is innocent until proven a court of law. In the court of public opinion, most of the hockey media - and most female hockey fans across the NHL - are pretty sure that he's guilty. Many of the male fans think so, too. Basically, the only people who don't are the people who think women lie about being raped, and people who think of athletes as things.

Now, I'm sure Kane genuinely believes that he's also not guilty - just as this woman who's pressing charges obviously believes that he is.

However, I've seen time and time again over the years on message boards, on social media, and in comments sections that a lot of men don't always know when they've raped a woman. (Or women don't know they've raped a men, for that matter.) What women think of as rape, a lot of men don't - and a lot of that is based upon assumptions rather than facts. Just because you think something is true, doesn't always mean that it is.

The bottom line there is that, unless the other person specifically says yes, you always assume that the answer is going to be no until you ask and are told directly otherwise. And that means don't be putting hands, fingers, or other things in places without the other person saying yes, it's okay. Rape isn't just intercourse, after all.

Despite that, the entire point of the Chicago Blackhawks press conference, I'm sure, was to announce that training camp was going to be business as usual. That there's nothing to see here, and to just move along. That everything was essentially normal for them.

However, it's definitely not normal, and we all know it. All anyone wants to ask about are the allegations. No one cares about the hockey part of things - they want the details about the controversy. And if no one's going to talk about that, then there's no point in even showing up.

So why go through the motions? Why put on this farce of a press conference in the first place? Why try to ignore the elephant in the room?

Regardless of what Brian Burke says at the end of this post, in the real world, companies will suspend (often without pay) or outright fire employees in legal trouble. It happens all the time. The more high profile the case, the more likely the employee will be fired or suspended, in fact.

And that's where part of the fan outrage is coming from. Fans aren't necessarily jumping to conclusions - though, if asked, most have already made up their minds about this case - and they're not convicting Kane. All they want is for the Blackhawks, or the NHL, to treat Kane like they would be treated if they were in his place by their place of employment.

The other part of the fan outrage are the multitudes of female fans who have either been abused, sexually assaulted, or raped - or have had friends or family that have - that are being told by the actions of the Blackhawks and the NHL that women are liars about that sort of thing.

Men would be surprised by how many women have had something shady happen to them. For example, while I have not personally had anything serious thing happen to me, I have had inappropriate things happen. A friend's father put his hand on my hip while he thought I was sleeping, for instance. I was probably 14 years old at the time. But that's as far as it ever went - and I was never comfortable around that guy ever again.

Every single woman that I know or have ever known has at least one story like that. And there are plenty of men in the same boat as well. Some are the extreme ends where family members sexually molested them as children or being brutally raped by someone they knew, and some are at the less horrific end like me. No one likes to talk about it openly, however, because they're afraid of being made fun of, ridiculed, or worse.

So to have a team that you love, or the sport that you love, defend a guy that's been accused of doing something like that to another woman is beyond appalling. There are women - life-long hockey fans - who are questioning whether they want to watch hockey anymore because of this. And still the team and the league refuse to acknowledge that it's even a possibility that it happened.

And not just the them, but this guy's teammates as well. Everyone's blindly standing by Kane, simply because he's a teammate. Now, I get wanting to get along with your teammates, and how guys spend at least seven months in each other's constant company. But there are teammates that don't get along, and they avoid each other whenever possible. That's just how it is. Frankly, it's just better not to discuss it at all if they're put in that awkward situation.

So you have the NHL and the Blackhawks both trying to sweep this under the rug while the fans want transparency. And that's the disconnect; that's the problem. If you're not going to talk about the problem, and you want to carry on like it's business as usual, then don't call a press conference. It's really just that simple.

Because, obviously, it isn't business as usual if you're calling a press conference about something you refuse to discuss.

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