Monday, May 15, 2006
I have not been closely following the allegations and now charges of rape that have been made against members of the Duke lacrosse team. I will confess that during college I did not much like lacrosse players, and while I was at Princeton more than one of them got in hot water for gratuitous violence (in one case, shooting a BB gun at their fellow students). Being as prone to guilt-by-association as the next blogger, I have been worried that maybe the Duke players did rape and beat up that stripper.
However, I having watched this fairly astonishing video of Duke lacrosse captain David Evans protesting his innocence, I am betting that they are innocent. Not just "not guilty," but innocent. Evans may be the slickest dirtbag on the planet, but it seems to me much more likely that we are watching a truly awful miscarriage of justice unfold before us. Only time will tell.
CWCID: Lucianne. Gateway Pundit has more.
I wrote about the overall situation in this post: http://sportsprof.blogspot.com/2006/03/duke-lacrosse-situation.html. The situation has two worlds collide -- the world of major felonies and the world of the lacrosse team on this campus. Some have let the two collide, with the result that the three players are up on serious charges even though many publications seem to doubt the guilt of the accused because the time lines don't make sense (see Newsweek a few weeks ago, for example). The program's season was suspended and the coach fired; the program seemingly had behavioral problems on campus and appeared to be out of control, there's no denying that, and it needs to be straightened out (despite Mr. Evans' protestations that they're the best group of guys)and will be; the next coach will be a no-nonsense disciplinarian. That said, the program's off-the-field behavioral issues don't compel findings of guilt in the rape case just because the group as a whole had problems. I have been clear to make that distinction, but let's hope that the D.A. and the people of Durham do too and listen to the evidence -- and not the media hype that has surrounded this case.
Well, now you did it. Your earlier post on Las Vegas brought back good memories from nearly 25 years ago. Driving to Atlantic City with "Byron" to purchase items for "Casino Night" at the club. What chutzpah to hold that event. Good thing for the statute of limitations.
Then you bring up the two BB gun guys. There's a night I don't really want to recall. I had forgotten they were lax players. We had a few of those, didn't we?
I don't have kids. But if I did, lacrosse would be something I'd encourage. Where I live, the top young athletes seem to put down the ball and pick up a stick. I've followed college lax since the Tigers got good. I attended two final four tournaments and have seen the Tigers both lose and win the National Championship. That would not have crossed my mind 25 years ago on Prospect.
I've held my tongue on this point, but TH, you have provided good cover. There were exceptions, but by and large, the lax players I knew at our alma mater were not possessed of winsome personalities.
I'm very happy that my self-disciplined and slightly fierce 14-year-old daughter plays lacrosse. I'm not too sorry, all things considered, that my 12-year-old son does not. I also will remember, several years from now, to tell my boy the whole Duke lax story, however it turns out, and counsel him as follows: if you ever find yourself at a party where there are strippers, LEAVE -- right then, without delay, LEAVE. That is a not a good party and not one where you want to be.
There's an interesting dynamic that didn't really get much mention when this story was more nebulus and people were more inclined to believe the stripper's version of it:
This behavior is nothing new to college athletics. In fact, one would have a VERY difficult time coming up with a list of 10 high-profile college football/basketball teams that haven't had some kind-of player-committed rape controversy in the past twenty years.
Yet none of them was nearly as publicized as the trials and tribulations of the Duke lacrosse teams, in spite of the fact that the fanbase for college lacrosse is, to put it politely, highly centralized. The media will have you believe this is for two reasons:
1. The wealth associated with a university like Duke and a sport like lacrosse, especially given the obvious class divide between Duke-the lacrosse team/Durham-the stripper.
2. The fact that the stripper is black, the accusers are white and the alleged rape may have been racially-charged.
But I'm of the opinion that there is a third, potentially bigger factor at play in the minds if a majority of Americans
3. The fact that the lacrosse players are less than perfect athletic specimens.
This is the old "Crew, Hockey" dynamic, wherein a sport is delegitimized vis a vis other sports with significantly lower entry costs that are generally more accesible. There is no question that the rule applies to lacrosse. The majority of players, despite generously reporting their own heights, still clock in at around 6', still were middling high school football players in very middling high school football conferences, and still cannot be quantifiably compared in any favorable way with top athletes in more high-profile sports (except with regards to GPA and SAT score, I suppose).
We generally give great athletes a lot of latitude generally. Michael Jordan will be forgiven for confusing the "Louvre" with the "luge", Brett Favre's painkiller addiction can be overlooked, multiple members of the Nebraska football team will be allowed to play despite having been charged with a variety of very real crimes (not frivolous things like public urination) of which they will later be convicted . The Duke lacrosse team, contrary to what the media spin will have you believe, are not "elite athletes"; they are far from it, actually. It seems like this may make the story a little more believable in the court of public opinion.
This past week, USC Guard Ryan Francis was gunned down while at home in Louisiana. Texas Running Back Ramonce Taylor was caught with 5 lbs. of marijuana in a backpack after having been sought in connection with a large-scale brawl (he had assault charges pending when he scored a touchdown in the Rose Bowl).
I think the total paucity of supporting evidence for the stripper's allegations will carry the day, but it's something to think about.
There is an insanity in many black communities that says that any way you can get back at "whitey" is okay. Any way at all. The Envy factor also plays larger in this case due to the wealth disparity between institutions attended by the stripper, and the players.
The DA is acting very much like a race baiting opportunist, playing his electorate the way he knows they want to be played, to get himself re-elected. So far, DNA evidence is negative, and at least one of the accused has an ironclad alibi.
The reports filed so far on the stripper and her friend don't lend any conficence in their story. Calling lacrosse players "bad guys" is infantile generalization. Like calling everybody who doubts the complaints of a black plaintiff "racist."
A couple of comments.
First, despite my best efforts to get my sons to play baseball, the sport I love most, my two oldest became lacrosse players -- even worse, lacrosse goalies. The oldest was a four year varsity player in high school, the next is the starter for his school's varsity as a sophomore, so they are not bad players. It is a great sport. The athletes involved are as dedicated as in any other sport and have pretty much the same makeup as athletes in other sports -- some are leaders, some are multi-faceted kids, some are obnoxious jocks, some are bright, some are not, most are a combination. I don't think that Scurvyoaks should worry if his 12 year-old decides to play. Lacrosse has been a good experience for my guys, who also play other sports competitively.
Also, Anonymous 1, I would challenge the assumption that lacrosse players are less than perfect specimens compared to those in other sports, unless you mean that you have to be 6' 4" to be an elite athlete. Lacrosse midfielders are in better shape and need a larger variety of skills -- speed, stamina, strength, hand-eye coordination -- than almost any athletes I can name.
I had forgotten that the BB guys were lacrosse players.