As an Oregon fan and alum, I am embarrassed. I don't like hearing allegations that our star running back beat up his girlfriend. Or that our kicker got into a brawl. Or that our quarterback allegedly took some computers. Or that our linebacker got a DUI. I don't like that we have players who make bad decisions. I don't like the reputation that my school has amassed the last few weeks. We have a problem. It's a problem that needs to be dealt with. I expect, nay, DEMAND, that guilty parties will be dealt with harshly.
Most Duck fans I know feel the same way. We are not happy with these events. We don't want things to be this way. It needs to change.
We all recognize there is a problem. What we disagree upon is what to do about it. Chip Kelly has taken a wait until we get all the facts in approach. The media, most notably John Canzano, in what is the same self-righteous but logically flawed article that we've come to expect, is declaring the program out of control and demanding swift and decisive action.
Lets take a look at where swift and decisive action gets you.
Humans as a species love quick and decisive action. It seems to end a problem rather quickly. However, it can also get you into quite a bit of trouble. I think the most apt example here is the infamous Duke lacrosse case. If you remember, three members of the Duke lacrosse team were accused of raping an exotic dancer at the party. Adding a wrench into that whole affair, the accused players were white and the stripper was black.
The outrage was widespread and immediate. Media coverage was almost exclusively pro-prosecution, because questioning the integrity of a victim was unacceptable. We heard stories by the truckload about how these privileged, out of control athletes were guilty of taking advantage of others without the same advantages. Students protested. Faculty public supported the protesting students. Two of the accused had a prior record. The Duke administration took swift and decisive action. The rest of lacrosse season was canceled. 47 students who weren't accused of anything were punished. The coach was forced to resign. This was widely praised as proactive action at the time. There was only one problem:
The entire incident was a fabrication.
A good coach lost his job. The team lost its season. Three people lost their good name, were nationally declared guilty and chastised in the court of public opinion. All of this, and no crime was committed. Duke University and the City of Durham are still the defendant in legal proceedings by many players on that team.
But, hey, action was swift and decisive. Too bad it was horribly, horribly wrong.
Yes. Most of the time when these incidents happen, some kind of trouble has occurred. But not every time. Should we revoke LaMichael James' scholarship and throw him off the team? The crimes he is accused of look very bad. But none of us was there. Its possible that nothing happened. I don't think its likely. I think its likely that James has played his last game in an Oregon uniform. But who has the right to make that decision now? What if he didn't do it? Once you make the decision to remove him, there is no going back. If he indeed did nothing, and you punished him anyway, you have lost that player forever.
The Masoli thing is even less clear. I hear calls for people demanding that Masoli be suspended. He hasn't even been named a suspect. Or even a person of interest. So he's in a police report. I can get anyone's name I want in a police report. It doesn't mean anything. If he's eventually charged and found guilty, then punishment should be handed out. But how do you punish someone who is not even suspected, let alone charged, in a crime.
Then there are those saying that there is a double standard because non-star players like Embry, Holland, and Alonso were punished, while the star player walks. Embry's dismissal was reported by the pay-only sites in early January. I already knew Embry was off the team before the events happened. Holland has a long series of fuck-ups before the actions of this weekend. And DUI's are much simpler events to sort out than assaults and thefts. It's no surprise that information in the Alonso case was wrapped up pretty quickly. Its not a double standard. Embry and Holland were multiple-time fuck ups, and it was pretty obvious that Alonso was driving under the influence. This is contrasted with Masoli, who hasn't been charged with jack, and James, who maintains his innocence.
I have no doubts what Kelly says. If players mess up, they'll be held accountable. Lets just make sure they actually messed up first.
But people love swift and decisive. That's why they lauded the decision for Duke to cancel the lacrosse season.. Swift and decisive is the easy thing to do. But to protect people until you know what happened? That's the right thing to do.
After all, what if the falsely accused was you?