Jock Culture Questioned … duh!

Is "jock culture" somehow responsible?  Does sport culture spur (sexual) violent behaviour?  CNN's Anderson Cooper says that "the accusation has never been definitively proven".  The only response I can muster is: WHAT MORE "PROOF" DO YOU NEED??? 

For chrissakes, citing "one" 2002 study from Rutgers does not constitute sufficient research into a phenomenon that has been widely acknowledged as endemic in sport culture and society.  Just off the top of my head, I would cite Crossing the Line: Violence and Sexual Assault in Canada's National Sport by Laura Robinson, Men at Play: A Working Understanding of Professional Hockey by Michael Robidoux, and last but definitely not least Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb by Bernard Lefkowitz.  That doesn't even mention the countless other academic efforts to address sexism and sexual violence in sport.  Definitively proven???  Come on!

As fired up as Cooper's blog got me around this whole idea of whether or not this type of behaviour is common in jock culture, this also is an excellent flashpoint to highlight the role that the media plays in facilitating our "historical amnesia".  Sure, this whole Duke thing is a headline story now, but how long until it is on the back pages or off the radar screen entirely?  I'll tell you how long.  It won't be until the next sports team/athlete sexually assaults someone and it gets reported.  Even then, the issue will come to the foreground, but this Duke incident will be long forgotten.  People don't forget Mike Tyson.  I don't think there has been a mention of Tyson without reference to his imprisonment for the rape of the beauty pageant contestant (what was her name?).  But, a lot of that has to do with the saliency and ever-present myth of the black rapist (I won't even get into the racial tensions that this Duke case has incited because the one black team member was the only one not required to provide a DNA sample).  I guess 1989 was too long ago to remember the Glen Ridge rape case for folks in the USA.  At his fingertips, Anderson Cooper must have access to countless headlines easily recounting hundreds of sexual assaults in the country.  Of those, how many would have had "jocks" as perpetrators?  Fuck, the sports pages alone are often referred to as the crime report.  Nothing there?  One study from Rutgers, that fails to definitively blame jock culture for the sexual violent acts committed (blame shared equally between "gang mentality", "alcohol", and victim blaming for (implied) both "asking for it" and failing to report it), as the validation to state that "solid answers remain as elusive as ever"???  Mr. Cooper.  As such an accomplished and respected journalist/anchor on the "world's most trusted news source" I would hope that you would do a better job of answering your charge to "look into" this issue.

In the wake of the controversy swirling around Duke University's lacrosse team, I was given the job of looking into that question, and I found that solid answers remain as elusive as ever. 

Do NOT allow this Duke incident to become just another anomolous act of (sexual) violence in a world full of violence.  Sport culture plays an undeniable, inextricable role in this type of act.  The most frightening aspect of this whole thing is that you will not label its cause(s) as anything but "elusive" or "indeterminable".  It's equally frightening that the "historical amnesia" has struck even you.  These kinds of scenarios have been playing out for a long long time.  And, unless you, as a representative for the media as a whole, take a stand and actually point the finger and "definitively" address the role sport/jock culture plays in this kind of violence, this will surely continue to happen time and time again. 

As was the motivation for Laura Robinson to write Crossing the Line, this is a contemporary flashpoint that can serve as a prime opportunity for us to "rethink the game [sport/jock culture and all its concomitant entitlements] and consider ways to fix it". 

Who's up for the challenge?  Mr. Cooper, are you? 

Dig it!      


2 Responses to “Jock Culture Questioned … duh!”

  1. Yvette Todd Says:

    I’ve not read a more eloquent piece on the Jock Culture and how we as fans and others fail to really demand consistent accountability.

  2. Great post, Roddy….I’ve linked to it on SportsFilter.

    For what it’s worth, I think that “historical amnesia”, as you call it, is a symptom of postmodern media culture. It seems to me that sampling in hip hop is an expressly political act that attempts to serve as an antidote. Perhaps this aesthetic will continue to disseminate to other cultural forms?

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