Monday, July 20, 2015

FSU: Treating symptoms not changing cultures

They say that the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem. So how does Florida State go about solving violent behavior among its student athletes? The football players are now banned from bars. The bars have not banned them--the coach has.

Jimbo Fisher, reports say, has told his players no more bars.

This is neither admitting to a problem nor solving one.

The directive was issued after a second FSU player was punished for assaulting a woman. Dalvin Cook was suspended from the team after he hit a woman outside of a bar. The first (?) incident resulted in quarterback De'Andre Johnson being kicked off the team after he hit a woman in a bar.

Bars are not the problem here. The problem is the culture at FSU and the precedent that has been set by the mishandling and outright denial of problems within athletics. I would suggest that the bar ban is simply treating the symptoms, but I don't even think bars are the symptom. As others have already noted, plenty of people go to bars--athletes, non-athletes, students, and others--without ever hitting women or anyone.

Counselors are also coming in, according to a statement by Fisher. This appears to be a treating of the symptoms, though arguably I do not know what the counselors will address or their methods and if there will some digging into the roots of these issues. Because as Fisher himself as already noted, student-athletes go to a lot of sessions about things like assault and drinking. Some of my male student-athletes (not at FSU) have reported being in workshops where they are taught how to interact with women. So is FSU not doing these things? Are they not doing them well enough? Or are they sending contradictory messages? Don't do this! (but if you do we may be able to get you off by ignoring the problem, keeping it out of the press, withholding evidence, questioning the reputation of your accuser in such a way that leads to her harassment, and assorted other methods.)

I think the counselors should be brought in for the staff, too.

Another matter: what will happen to De'Andre Johnson? Will he transfer--and when? (is he even still enrolled at the school?) Under the new SEC rule preventing transfers of student-athletes who have been punished for violence against women, he will not be headed to cross-state rival University of Florida or perennial powerhouses such as Alabama and Auburn. Johnson said he was provoked by the woman, alleging that she shouted racial epithets at him, but regrets his actions. This might be the opening to another spot at a non-SEC school. The second chance discourse. He had many offers from top football schools. Will one of them come back for him?

Will Cook be kicked off the team? He was a more highly touted recruit than Johnson. What is going to happen to this indefinite suspension? Do we have to wait for video evidence like the kind that caught Johnson hitting his victim? Not kicking him off the team for doing what appears to be the same thing might send a mixed message. Apparently President Thrasher addressed the football team and told them that playing for FSU is not a right but a privilege. Will some players receive more privileges than others?