Just when you thought 2017 was going to be a great year, here I come with another dose of Jibber.
A lot has happened since the last time I’ve written: Princess Leia died, The Cowboys kept winning, and the Clemson Tigers capped off an amazing Bowl season with a last-second upset over the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide, which is now feeling blue.
It was a great game, but I want to spend my time on the Tigers’ first college football playoff game against Ohio State — this moment in particular. bit.ly/2jDxeHV
The clip of a Clemson linebacker groping an Ohio State running back has drawn a lot of laughs in the media. Most of the people I’ve spoken to described the move as “weird.”
I call it sexual assault.
I don’t say that lightly because I know how serious sexual assault is, and I freely admit the Clemson player didn’t have a malicious intent, or at least he didn’t view his actions as anything sexual.
Clemson’s star linebacker Ben Boulware said his teammate went “A little too far. But when I’m just messing with someone, poking them in the belly button or grabbing someone’s butt, it’s just to break up the seriousness of the game.”
Fort Meade’s victim advocate Rick Ponder saw it differently.
“That would be categorized as an assault,” Ponder said after seeing the video for the first time. “It wasn’t accidental. It was obvious he was going out of his way.”
I’m not in the business of raking young adults over the coals for being honest, so I’ll leave Boulware’s comments alone and assume experience will change his heart. I’ll guarantee that change if he ever has a daughter.
My issue is with how much of the media coverage has perpetrated the narrative that what we saw on the field was OK, or maybe weird, but certainly not in the realm of assault.
I believe this reaction is due to society’s lack of understanding of what sexual assault is and a dangerous double standard. To a lot of people, sexual assault is rape or sodomy, not goosing, and it is something men do to women.
I am confident most of the people who laughed at what happened during the Clemson game would have a different reaction if that move would have happened at the mall or if a female was being grabbed at the bottom of the pile without the ability to consent.
According to AR 600-20, Chapter 7: Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention states: “Sexual assault is a crime defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, physical threat or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent.”
With that definition, I understand if some of you think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. The Ohio player (even I have a hard time calling him a victim) didn’t jump out of the pile swinging or press charges after the game was over. There’s a good chance he didn’t even notice what happened.
I’ve groped and been groped in the spirit of gamesmanship, and in no way felt sexually assaulted.
But here’s what’s dangerous: What if the Ohio State player did feel violated or intimidated? How much harder would it be for him to report those feelings after hearing commentators laugh about it and chalk it up as “no big deal”?
Now throw in the double standard caused by the misperception that sexual assault can only happen to women, or that it is somehow unmanly for a dude to report a sexual assault.
Where does that leave the thousands of male victims of sexual assault or future victims? Good chance this type of news coverage will make it harder for them speak out. Forget about filing a report.
So yeah, I may be on a high-horse or overly altruistic, or even a bit PC on this issue. But I’d rather be hung with those labels than be a silent bystander.
The garrison has a 24/7 victims hotline. Please call 443-845-0876.
If you have comments on this or anything to do with sports, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @CTJibber.