One step forward, two giant leaps and a stumble backward.
That sums up the fallout of the Art Briles disaster.
When word got out that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were hiring the disgraced former Baylor coach, the negative response by fans and media was overwhelming. The Baylor controversy was not something fans wanted creeping north of the border. The messages sent to the Ticats and its president, to the CFL, were a resounding, “not in our league”.
This seemed to be a huge move in the right direction; finally, on the field conduct was not all that mattered. A man’s impressive football resume did not erase his utterly gross misconduct of brushing aside a female victim as a “fool”. His referring to an incident where a player exposed himself and propositioned a woman to perform sexual acts on him as “not as bad,” because it happened in a legitimate spa and not in a strip club (location of sexual harassment and assault determines the legitimacy of it, apparently).
The public was finally putting its foot down on sports figures getting away with violence as long as they put up some wins.
Enter Baylor’s letter to Briles, that seemingly cleared him of all wrongdoing. This was reportedly what suggested to Ticats’ management their coaching candidate was a good hire.
If I could insert a gif here, it would be Donald Trump’s infamous, “WRONG,” clip. Oh, I can.
What that Baylor letter shows is we have not advanced very far at all. It proves that Baylor learned absolutely nothing from its players repeatedly being involved in sex crime allegations, including gang rape and gun violence. The school, even after pretending to release staff members who failed both victims and players, is no better off.
The letter, written to Art Briles after their settlement deal, claims it is unaware of any player who had been found responsible for sexual assault.
I wonder if Baylor realizes Briles played a part in helping players avoid being held responsible? You would think they would. After all, the findings of Pepper Hamilton law firm are still on the Baylor website. A University wrote a letter of support to a man, while simultaneously hosting apparent proof of the man’s total disregard for human decency on their web site.
I want to dissect it and come up with a detailed description of everything that is wrong with it. Unfortunately, all I can think of is, “gross”. This is why so many victims, both men and women, of people in power positions sit in silence. This is why there is still a sense of entitlement amongst these offenders.
No one involved in this is innocent. The Ticats’ arrogance after their public shaming is unforgivable. The CFL gets partial points for stepping in and letting the Ticats know Briles was not welcome, but they lose credibility for not preventing it when they first learned of it. With the league’s so-called zero tolerance policy, which also applies to coaches, it should have stepped in immediately and not after the bad PR.
Baylor has continued to fail every student who walks in its doors. Their letter of support for Briles is victimizing the many women all over again. The school played dumb and kissed butt, just like what they fired Briles for doing.
I applaud every single person who spoke out and against the Briles hiring. That’s a good sign. Unfortunately, the progress is not what we thought it was.
– Allison Currie is an Edmonton-based writer, producer, customer service expert and social media guru. Follow her on Twitter @AlleyDalley.