copyright Bettia Network, inc. 2012 for Marceline Donaldson
Today, the American Brotherhood is pulling in its antenna and licking its wounds.
It will be interesting and very educational to see how they come back from the Sandusky Affair.
Normally, the oppressed lose – especially in areas which re-enforce one or more of society’s isms. In this case sexism and pedofilia in sports was rampant and on view for all who didn’t put their heads in the sand. The areas which have our rituals and symbols; which we use to pull in the unsuspecting fans and followers who are just along for the ride – these were the areas under a very high, hot microscope all during the Sandusky revelations. What the fans and followers perceive as the excitement of ‘their team’ winning and losing has been totally exposed for what it is and we see it, for one brief moment, stripped naked.
I was not raised in a sport, nor watching sports games, nor close to anything that had to do with sports. When I became an adult, I was missing the language, history and excitement which sports and sport figures could invoke in most people around me – and for this blessing I am grateful.
To talk about Chopin was not very exciting – especially when one had the option of talking about the local ball game. I didn’t even know which sport the different named ball clubs played. I did know it was all male, all the time and the testosterone which exuded from this area was more than a little overwhelming. Women were included and had a very important place in this Court as cheer leaders, team followers, extras for those times when team members needed more sex. When you think how women and girls were pushed into cheering and accepting all of this if they wanted to exist even on the periphery of society, it is heartbreaking.
Sandusky’s trial has thrown all of that in high relief. This was not simply a case of one man, all by himself, corrupting and destroying the life and future of many mother’s sons. It is a case of one man, because of his position in the sports field, bringing the men in the sport together to support and draw the wagons around him so he could continue his ‘sport’ unafraid and unstoppable. In fact, at one point didn’t he brag to one of his young victims that he was ‘unstoppable?’
I can just hear the furor of those reading this and being quite upset about my painting all sports and participants in sports with the same brush. Well, why not. We have had more scandal in the sports arena than anyplace else. The only area of society which tops politics in its sleeze. The difference between the two comes from the fact that we readily talk about how low one has to stoop to participate in politics. Sports is still a sacred cow. We protect and hunker down to make sure we take out those who would dare to talk out loud about the corrupting influence of sports on everyone.
What is at stake? Have you ever tried to buy a ticket to a game? The cost is prohibitive. Have you noticed how much the players are paid? For doing what? For not growing up past their adolescence and being able to play with each other the way they did at 13, 14, 15, and on? For being ‘real’ men in the locker room for men only where men’s jokes were told, and men bonded in a male way. Women could never come close to this sacred space. In the religion of sports, the sports locker room is its sacristy for its clergy.
Where your money is there also is your value system. Our value system is in the ‘top dogs’ – the sportsmen, the political men, the business men. But the sports area far exceeds the power and prestige of any of the others. What do they have in common? They share a bond around elevating sports to the very highest level and taking their manhood from their ability to participate in, talk about, go to sports events.
What was given to you as a business person for your clients? Tickets to the ballgames because this was a big deal gift. What did you talk about sitting around having coffee? Sports! Who did you want to be around to prove you were really one of the ‘in’ guys? Sports figures – the bigger the sports figure, the more important you looked to those with whom you were trying to do business. And what does our biggest politicans and businessmen want to own? A sports team!
And then comes Sandusky! Opening closed doors – showing us what happens in those ‘male only’ places – initiating young boys into a life which makes them vulnerable to those who come after him. And then comes the Sandusky supporters – sports figures all! Many years of covering-up, hiding, coming together to make sure he was free of and not encumbered by any ‘justice’ issues. Males all! Sports males all!
So what now? Do we eliminate sports? Do we clean it up? Do we go on as if nothing happened? Do we blame Sandusky and try to clean up everyone else? How can we when Sandusky followed the pattern set out by many unrecognized sleeze-its who came before. He became big in his field – too big to fail. He lived his life so the conscience of others could be eased – he set up a foundation to help others (although there are claims that he set it up to corral young boys so he wouldn’t have to go out looking and risking) – he kept the façade of a family man with a loving family – he was almost the beat your chest Tarzan guy from whom one would expect to hear the jungle call at any moment.
When all of this broke, I went back to look at some old film of Sandusky at work – sometimes surrounded by those who ‘protected’ him from the potetial charges of his young victims. The film shows him being held up by those around him – held in high esteem by those who knew the truth of his activities with young boys. In some films he looks invincible! Given what I watched, I don’t see how any of his victims had the courage to come forward. He looked like an awesome, respectable, very much in control of his sport kind of guy.
To try to modernize sports – with the success of the Women’s Movement – we have allowed in a very small percentage of women as players. Not women making the kind of money the men make, but enough to have kept the civil righters from marching against the sports establishment.
With sports came men’s clubs – closed to women and non-whites. At one time they were only open to Northern Europeans, but over time some non-Northern Europeans were allowed in. In many private men’s clubs, they kept the curious and more aggressive women out by putting their locker room at the entrance to the club. To enter one had to go through the locker rooms and the locker rooms were a reflection of the sports arena’s locker rooms.
Suffice it to say, it is time to take down and dismantle this bastion of male superiority which is one of the ground floor structures of sexism – racism and pedofilia. It used to be the ground floor structure of all the -isms before teams were forced to accept African American and other minority males. And what happened when those doors were open? You can’t tell the difference. Those minorities taken in totally reflect what went before – to a color blind person, there has been very little change. With the exception that minority sports figures are hung out to dry if they are not squeaky clean. That should speak to them loud and clean.
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