*Ray Rice and Jameis Winston have both been accused of violence against women albeit in very different ways.
Winston’s alleged victim was simply a young woman who made a poor decision and was allegedly sexually assaulted as a result. To be clear, I have no information regarding this case that isn’t already known. But from what I understand, the odds were against this lady every getting a fair hearing of her grievance.
I will admit to holding a bias in favor of the man in these kinds of situations. But I am also aware of this prejudice and I work to overcome it and look at the issue even handedly.
In this case I wonder what are the odds that a college student was awed by the fact that Winston took an interest in her: very high I’d say. What are the odds that she went back to his apartment with the intention of having sex: very high I’d say. What are the odds that she was still willing to have sex despite the presence of his friends and teammates: not as high. What are the odds that if she in fact changed her mind that Winston, who is an elite athlete and used to people pandering to his whim, was okay with not getting his way and simply said to himself “it’s not my night.” – very low. What are the odds that he pressured/coerced/forced her to do things she did want to: pretty good. And most importantly, what are the odds that his friends and teammates supported his version of events: 100%.
In this case while I can imagine a scenario in which a woman wants to falsely claim victimization by a soon to be rich athlete, I don’t think that is more likely than her trying to befriend him. And the way this situation has played out has made a friendship unlikely.
When a person who was abused as a child grows up and abuses children we point the finger at the perpetrator but also those who created him/her. In the same way Winston should be held accountable for his actions (perhaps he already has been and I just disagree – I recognize the fact that I could be wrong about what I have determined likely happened). But we should also look at how Winston came to be in a position where he would allegedly take such actions.
The financial stakes of big time college football make it possible for a university to repeatedly cover up misdeeds of its highest profile athlete. This is the problem. I have argued that athletes in revenue producing collegiate sports should be able to profit from their image. And I admit that a car dealership sponsorship would exacerbate the problem. But at least at that point we could all be honest about a young man who is worth a certain number of dollars getting in trouble instead of lying to ourselves about a good “kid” who is a student and needs to be shielded by the university.
When Ray Rice got in trouble I stated that it makes sense that he got an initial two game suspension; then I said it made sense that his suspension was extended. The key detail in Rice’s initial situation was that his wife was the victim and didn’t want to press charges. That isn’t the case with Winston’s alleged victim.
Furthermore when Rice’s situation became untenable to his team because of the potential financial backlash, they released him. The idea of due process aside, at least we all knew what we were dealing with. With Winston we are being sold the idea of amateurism which gives the impression that everything is less serious than it really is.
The structure of college football not only exploits the players but it facilitates the assault of those around the players. The structure must change.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.