Before I say anything in this post, I must tell you that I am a huge sports fan. I've followed the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, and KU Jayhawks with devotion that is just this side of obsession for my entire life. I am also a fan of good sports stories in general. That is why I am so disgusted with the current state of society when it comes to what we will forgive of people who can perform exceptionally on the sports fields.
This was brought into stark relief as I was browsing through my usual blog roll today. I was, unfortunately, drawn to this post at the marvelous blog, www.feministing.com. As is very evident, if you've read anything that I have ever written, I was disgusted and disturbed to see that these events had occurred in the first place, and that they are being ignored just to get a talented football player to attend a school. I have some thoughts on this, but warn you that the details of what this young man did are disturbing, and I will be discussing them after the jump. So, please consider that before reading the rest of this post.
In excerpts from the court transcript of Daniel Hood's trial for the kidnapping and rape of his first cousin, found here, it is revealed that:
The cover or blanket was then taken off of the victim. Sanico inserted the handle of the plunger, which had been wrapped in the cellophane, inside the victim's vagina. Sanico asked the defendant (Hood) if he wanted to do it himself. The defendant answered, "No, man, that's my cousin." After the plunger was taken out of the victim's vagina, a liquid was poured onto her body. According to the victim's testimony, the defendant and Sanico stated that the liquid was Sanico's urine. Later testimony would suggest that the liquid was actually Kool AidIt is then revealed that after the crime was committed that they two perpetrators sat down to watch TV as if nothing had happened.
I am sitting here re-reading the details that I just wrote above, and I can't even find the words to describe how horrific of a crime this young man committed. He robbed this girl, 14 years old, of an innocence that she deserved to be able to hold onto. His accomplice in the crime, Sanico, was 17 and sentenced to 10 years in prison, yet Hood, because he was only 13, did not serve any time in corrections, even though he was convicted of aggravated kidnapping and rape. In a very real sense, Daniel Hood has never been punished for his crimes.
In fact, as of May 5th, he has been awarded a scholarship to play football at the University of Tennessee. Upon hearing that news, the dean of students at his high school said, "He’s one of the most looked-up-to young men at our school." Far be it from me to say that Hood hasn't lived an exemplary life since committing a horrific felony, for which his only punishment was a short stint in a rehabilitation program at Mountain View Youth Development Center, however, he is still a rapist. There is no situation in which a responsible educational administrator should be okay with calling a convicted kidnapper and rapist "one of the most looked-up-to young men" anywhere. But I guess being able to throw a football fixes that.
Sadly, this isn't the only recruit with "character issues" that will be getting a Division 1 scholarship this year. In fact, he's not the only one at the University of Tennessee. A second recruit, Dwayne "Deejay" Hunter, just had a court hearing for allegedly assaulting his 17-year old girlfriend after their prom, which is the second assault accusation of that sort with the same girlfriend. This young man, who, because he plays good defense, is probably one of the most looked-up-to young men at his school too, was then arrested for violating the terms of his bond from an incident in which he shot a 15-year old in the face twice with a BB gun from a vehicle.
I wish I could say that this sort of horrible misplacement of priorities was only found at the University of Tennessee, but I can find it much closer to home. At my university, the University of Kansas, the Jayhawk football team recruited a Junior College transfer just last year by the name of Jocques Crawford. Crawford pled guilty to misdemeanor assault in high school, after a district attorney in his hometown lowered the charges from felony aggravated rape. This was a "character issue" that kept him from being a Division 1 NCAA player straight out of high school. Even after 2 years of playing at a Junior College level, Crawford came to KU and, after one season, is currently suspended from the team for "multiple violations of team rules in a short period of time".
Why is it that we look the other way when talented athletes commit crimes against women? It has been shown, time and time again, that if we allow these misogynistic men to continue to be idolized by sports fans that they will never learn that their actions were wrong. You don't have to look far down the list of past athletes to see the likes of Lawrence Phillips, a star at Nebraska who assaulted his girlfriend by dragging her down a stairwell, yet was allowed to continue on the team. What did that result in? Phillips had a troubled NFL career in which he pleaded no-contest to assaulting a woman in a Miami nightclub and, after his career, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon and two domestic abuse incidents, one of which involved him choking his girlfriend to the point of unconsciousness.
Perhaps if somebody had intervened sooner and given Phillips a wake-up call by telling him that his actions had consequences, then he would not have continued to go on abusing women. But, instead, we see a society that continues to say that, as long as you can play a game better than other people, you can get away with anything. This is unacceptable.