Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hard To Stomach What Happened at Steubenville

There is nothing more devastating or catastrophic, and nothing more disturbing and upsetting than what happened at Steubenville.

This was profoundly an awful story involving two high school football players who not only destroyed their football careers, but their lives by using poor judgment and by choosing the wrong path. Judge Thomas Lipps found Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond guilty Sunday of raping an intoxicated 16-year-old girl.

The defendants were sentenced to a minimum of one year in a juvenile correctional institute, but Mays received an additional year for transmission of nude photos, which he will serve after his rape sentence is completed. It’s often someone is found guilty of rape, but it’s not often that teenage boys are charged for sexual assault.

It’s an unbelievably sad, sad story, the worst tragedy involving kids. It is also an example of what could happen to those who sexually assault someone. It’s also a way of cracking down on rape and sex offenders, something that needs to be taken seriously.

What happened at Steubenville, a public high school in Ohio, sends a strong message to children who may have attempted to attack, dominate and express masculinity through sex crimes against women. The outrage of a troubling case grabbed national attention, and because sexual assaults are more common especially in high school and college, it should have taught every high school student about the severity of sexual assault, just as parents should instill in their children a sense of responsibility and stability.

Much of the media attention has focused on this case, and for good reason, considering that these are teenagers who chose to ruin their lives, their family’s lives and those victims’ lives. It’s hard to forget and, without a sense of sympathy for the convicted Steubenville rapists, rape culture will haunt Mays and Richmond for the rest of their lives.

There is zero chance they will ever play football again. Sadly, the real problem these days is that rape involving athletes turns into a sports story. It’s a small community, where everybody knows everybody and where football is the identity.

One day soon, maybe even a couple of years from now, they can be motivated speakers and enlighten high school football players about the realities of rape and lecture to them about rape culture.

They can make a difference in their communities, by encouraging student-athletes to not take the same path, long after their juvenile sentences — promising careers that are forever destroyed. It’s a trial that featured all sorts of sickening, outrageous testimony about everyday teenage behavior and it shocked the world, a trial of which was in the spotlight nationally and a rape scandal that was so disgraceful and despicable.

The case of two teenagers, no doubt, embarrassed and polarized a town of almost 20,000 in Ohio, but it’s the moment when America must stress the danger of rape. It’s a good thing that a disturbing case is exposed in the sports world, even though the Steubenville rape is very uncomfortable and so repugnant.

It’s awful what happened at Steubenville. It’s an event I hate to talk about since watching negativity on the news all the time, a feeling that makes me numb, a feeling that angers me as I express my deepest sympathy to the 16-year-old victim. It’s beyond alarming what’s happening today, and what happened at Steubenville can happen anywhere and to anyone. This isn’t about football but two teenagers who played the game, which turned out to be a sports story.

This isn’t about football but it involved two football players, which turned a story into an endless chronicle in sports sections of newspapers and on sports websites, when in fact, there was one website that had an article that featured on the front page with a picture of Mays’ and Richmond’s face.

But it’s not a sports story. It never was. It was a story about real life, and what’s happening every day in a troubled society.

Yet, through it all, thankfully, the Steubenville story was a teachable moment for teens, an eye-opener.