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Sport, booze, testosterone

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10 years 3 months ago - 10 years 3 months ago #1 by sozzled
Sport, booze, testosterone was created by sozzled
I'm so over the stories about Australian rugby league players who get themselves embroiled in sexual encounters - a euphemistic way of saying they have non-consensual sex - with women after a night of boozing. It's not just about whether the problem is confined to Australians or rugby league (or Australian Rules footballers, rugby union players, cricketers or swimmers for that matter) but there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence suggesting a link betweeen professional sportspeople and these kinds of behaviour. In the past we've heard disgraceful accounts, growing evidence, of what appears to be a deeply-rooted misogynistic and neanderthal-like "system" or "acceptance" of alcohol-fuelled sexploits by sports stars - or teams of them - that is taken for granted as part-and-parcel of what they do and who they are.

Of course I blame the sportsmen who engage in these drunken orgies. I condemn, just as equally, those who later cover-up these deeds or who, at the time, failed in their responsibly to stop players getting to the stage where they couldn't "control" themselves. However it's just too facile to write-off these incidents as cases of people having "issues" or harmlessly "letting off steam". The community has continually said before that the clubs, those who run the business, have a responsibility not just to the sport (and therefore the entertainment that it provides to the community) but also to the overall personal development of the players who provide that entertainment and as role models to the future generations of sports men and women.

The latest story concerns Manly rugby league player Brett Stewart who has been charged with the sexual assualt of a 17 year-old girl.

As we've seen in several earlier cases which, incidentally, did not involve either this player or this club, the machinery - the business end - of the sport has swung into action in a show of solidarity and support for its "property", the person accused. As with anyone who has been charged with any offence, Stewart is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty ... and fair enough, too! However, if this were merely a case of an alleged sexual assualt involving any 24 year-old man behaving improperly with a 17 year-old girl that would probably be the end of the matter; that's for the the courts to decide the outcome and deliver a verdict. Instead of that we have the Manly Sea Eagles rugby league club defending their player by allowing him to play in the season opening game this Saturday. Had this case, say, involved a Minister of State (or a minister of religion) they would have been stood down until the matter had been resolved by the court. It's this double standard that's at the centre of the issue.

I was watching the Today show on TV earlier this morning. Guest commentator and internet news opinionist, Mia Freeman, asked the rhetorical question "What has the 17 year-old girl to gain from making these allegations? " It's a good question. We don't know anything of alleged victim's character. Perhaps she knows Stewart and has her own, other "issues" with him - they live in the same apartment complex. Perhaps she idolised Stewart and, in a pique of unrequited "lurve", she's alleged that he sexually assaulted him in order to exact her own vengeance? Perhaps she was partly responsible, she led him to believe that she would consent to sex but, at the last moment, changed her mind? Perhaps she wants to profit from the publicity? Or perhaps she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. By the same token, if this case had only involved a nondescript 24 year-old groping a 17 year-old, the victim might have let the matter go unreported but, because it involves a celebrity, there's the distinct chance of gaining some mileage from it. While TV programs, like Today, have every right to comment how unfairly this teenager has been treated by "the system", not only does she claim that she was sexually assaulted but now she's being attacked and demonised by the press, I disagree that it's fair to raise questions about her motives by concealing these possibilities. There have been cases in the past when footy players have gone on grog-fuelled sexcapades where their victims weren't necessarily totally innocent.

And exactly what was the substance of the claim that Stewart sexually assaulted a female teenager? According to one witness, Stewart was seen to have "crash tackled" the girl. Grabbing someone, even when you grab someone in a way that brings that person to the ground, does not necessarily constitute sexual assault. In fact we have no idea whether Stewart intentionally grabbed a teenaged girl or whether he merely reeled, staggered and fell on her in a drunken stupor. Intentionally grabbing someone constitutes an assault; intentionally groping at a someone's "privates" may even constitute a sexual assault. Falling down drunk is quite different. Whatever may have happened, Stewart's conduct in the incident is inexcusable and the sporting fraternity's (and sororiety's) tacit or explicit support of him is ill-considered at best and seriously flawed at worst.

"What has she to gain?" asks Ms Freeman. This is a case involving a high-profile sports star, Ms Freeman, and therefore she possibly has more to gain than you might have considered.

What do you think?

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Last edit: 10 years 3 months ago by sozzled.

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10 years 3 months ago #2 by SweetNess
Replied by SweetNess on topic Sport, booze, testosterone
At the very least, he should be stood down from play until the investigation has run its course. If such a thing happened in any other place of business, the person would be put on leave until the authorities had covered all the bases.

Also, by keeping him in the public spotlight, isn't this the NRL's way of saying, "Sure he may be a pervert, but his ability to play footy far outweighs his possible immoral and illegal behaviour off the field."

And just how is this man gonna get a fair trial with all the media coverage he's attracting by staying out there and carrying on like it's any other day? Guilty or innocent, all this media attention is making it impossible to find an unbiased judge/jury pool. How is this girl going to go about the process of healing if she truly is a victim? It can't be easy for her seeing him on tv and hearing all the messages of support for him coming from all sides of the viewing public.

Something has to be done. Sports stars of all caliber have a responsibility to carry on as if they have a sense of responsibility. I'm all for the occassional celebratory party, but they have to find the maturity to conduct themselves like young men and not hooligans. If they can't do it themselves, then it's up to the sports governing body, the heads of the teams involved, and the trainers, coaches and players management to see that this type of counselling is carried out.

*•.¸¸ζẃεε†Йεςς¸¸.•*

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10 years 3 months ago #3 by sozzled
Replied by sozzled on topic Sport, booze, testosterone
SweetNess wrote:

And just how is this man gonna get a fair trial with all the media coverage he's attracting by staying out there and carrying on like it's any other day? Guilty or innocent, all this media attention is making it impossible to find an unbiased judge/jury pool. How is this girl going to go about the process of healing if she truly is a victim? It can't be easy for her seeing him on tv and hearing all the messages of support for him coming from all sides of the viewing public.

Thanks, 'Ness, well said!

I suspect that justice will be better served if players, like Stewart, are suspended. I realise this puts the team under additional pressure but that's the way it is. If players put themselves in jeopardy by grogging-on until all hours of the day, to the stage where they claim they're unable to remember what happened, then maybe sporting clubs have to face the possibility that they're going to lose a few match games while their players are sitting in the sin bin. That's what happens.

But, more than that, if the players are sin-binned then they just might receive a more accommodating trial. It's possible that the alleged offender is innocent (or that it's not possible to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt) and it would be wrong to deny him his means of income while he's awaiting trial. I don't think that celebrity sports people have a reasonable claim to compensation because of their own stupidity in the first place. Perhaps players should be reminded of that fact: "if you get yourself so blotto that you can't remember what you did last night or who you might have done it to, then don't expect us to bail you out, you idjut!"

Yes, 'Ness, it would be fairer in all respects to take celebrities out of the public spotlight altogether. Once charges have been laid, then let it become sub judice so that alleged offender and victim both can receive an unbiased, impartial court hearing.

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10 years 3 months ago #4 by Tushy
Replied by Tushy on topic Sport, booze, testosterone
Yep well said Sozz and Ness - I agree with you

I see they are standing him down now - and so they should
I get sick of these idiots and the way they act -- blame the booze blame everything else but themselves......

If they want the money, then act accordingly otherwise go play for the local club.. who cares..

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10 years 3 months ago #5 by ConcertForGeorgeNut
Replied by ConcertForGeorgeNut on topic Sport, booze, testosterone
The rugby league season kicks off this weekend in NSW. An television advertising campaign to mark the event, and featuring Brett Stuart as the pin-up boy of rugby league, has been pulled.

I really dunno about this case. I realise it's a fantastic story opportunity, but I just wish the media would lay off, and allow the law to do its job.

I don't like my chances, though :P

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10 years 3 months ago #6 by Tushy
Replied by Tushy on topic Sport, booze, testosterone
Oh well, wouldnt be a fantastic story if he didnt stuff up - I have no sympathy for these people - they have it all and blow it.. I am glad they have come in hard on him and should do from now on with all of them......

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10 years 3 months ago #7 by stormyfeathers
Replied by stormyfeathers on topic Sport, booze, testosterone
The young girl could very well be telling the truth. If I were her, then it would have been a hard decision to make to actually go to the police where an assault occurred with a high profile figure. The odds would be stacked against her as as she is a "no-body" and she would know that she would need a lot of proof to substantiate her claims.

The road ahead will not be easy for this teenager.

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10 years 3 months ago - 10 years 3 months ago #8 by sozzled
Replied by sozzled on topic Sport, booze, testosterone
stormyfeathers wrote:

The young girl could very well be telling the truth. If I were her, then it would have been a hard decision to make to actually go to the police where an assault occurred with a high profile figure. The odds would be stacked against her as as she is a "no-body" and she would know that she would need a lot of proof to substantiate her claims.

The road ahead will not be easy for this teenager.

I agree: the young girl may indeed be telling the truth. However, maybe I'm just naïve, but I don't imagine it should be more difficult reporting a crime to the police knowing the profile of the person I was accusing; it shouldn't matter. Nor, should it matter how much proof I would need to substantiate my allegations. I should need exactly the same amount of proof to substantiate the charge as I should need irrespective of the former, existing or prevailing "status" of the person I was accusing.

If we should require a different body of evidence because the circumstances involve a high-profile celebrity then that's saying that our legal system is prejudiced. If, for example, someone blows .09% in the breathalyzer (and it's subsequentlly confirmed by analysis of a blood sample) and that person was driving a car that's all the evidence that's necessary to substantiate a charge of "driving with more than the prescribed amount of alcohol" irrespective of whether that person is an habitual drinker or an upstanding teetotaller, whether they're homeless or whether they live in a luxury mansion, whether they're jobless or whether they're the Prime Minister. The same law applies and the same test of law applies regardless.

The difficulty in establishing proof in cases of sexual assault lies in the credibility of the witnesses. It doesn't matter if the teenaged girl is a "somebody" or not; it only matters whether the court believes her testimony and the testimony of the prosecution's witnesses or whether the court believes the accused's testimony (if he chooses to give any) and the witnesses for the defence, if there are any. The burden of proof is the same. The prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused is guilty ... not that the accused should have to prove their innocence. That's how our legal system works and, I strongly believe, how it should work.

The fact that this particular case we're discussing has attracted (and will attract) media attention may have made it easier or more difficult to decide whether or not to press charges and, for that reason, I agree that the road ahead may not be an easy one for the teenaged girl. However, there should be no stacking of the odds in favour of any side in this case merely because it involves someone who has a certain notoriety outside the courtroom. On that point we disagree. :)

If you think I'm wrong then say "I think you're wrong". If you say, "You're wrong", how do you know?
Last edit: 10 years 3 months ago by sozzled.

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10 years 3 months ago #9 by Tushy
Replied by Tushy on topic Sport, booze, testosterone
Thats exactly right Sozz - who the hell do they think they are?

They are people same as us - whether they are out on the field or at a club, they should be treated the same as anyone

do something against the law and it should come down on them like a ton of bricks regardless........

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10 years 3 months ago - 10 years 3 months ago #10 by sozzled
Replied by sozzled on topic Sport, booze, testosterone
Tushy wrote:

I get sick of these idiots and the way they act ... blame the booze, blame everything else but themselves ...

and

Who the hell do they think they are?

and again

I have no sympathy for these people: they have it all and blow it.

I realise, of course, that Tushy's remarks were directed at people like Brett Stewart who get themselves into "difficulties" (shall we say) with the law.

Now, it may surprise some of you, I have a certain amount of sympathy for people like Brett Stewart. Not a lot of sympathy, perhaps, but more sympathy for him (in these particular circumstances) and others like him than for those who profit from his athletic assets. I could just as easily say, about the Many Sea Eagles rugby league club, or the National Rugby League, "I get sick of these idiots and the way they act. Blame the booze, blame everything else but themselves ..." etc.

We briefly discussed this subject over dinner last night. My point was this: how can you not expect that when you give kids (people like Brett Stewart) celebrity status, give them a half-million dollar salary, treat them like heroes, shower them with fame, riches beyond their wildest dreams and the attention of thousands of adoring fans, invite them to parties and gatherings where they can have all the free grog they could possibly drink and then expect them to act "grown-up" and responsible? I'm sorry, but I can't get my head around the fact that the sport has an ingrained culture that expects its players to behave like neanderthals when they're on the playing fields but with urbane civility when they're off it. I can't accommodate the double standard where the club provides free booze but expects a "no drinky-winky" policy to apply to their players while the club's patrons, sponsors, non-playing staff and hangers-on can get as tanked-up as they like. It just doesn't work for me that you take kids, treat them like gods, and expect them to behave as models of decorum when you fail to do a single thing to instil any of those virtues in them!

This is where I have the problem in cases like these. This is why I started the discussion with the comment that I'm so fed up with the continuing parade of stories like the Stewart case. I blame the players who cannot control themselves - yes I do, they must be held accountable for their actions - but I also blame the clubs and the sport that provided them with the volatile ingredients that led to their undoing!

At last, the stink of public opprobium has reached the nerve centre of the Australian Rugby League and they've decided that enough is enough. They've hit the Manly club hard. They've intervened where the club failed and suspended Stewart (as I always felt was the right thing to do, anyway) for being drunk. That, in my opinion, is appropriate. Stewart went too far. On the other side of the argument, people may also feel that the NRL (and it's affiliated clubs) may have the attitude towards their players "you can do anything you like as long as you don't get caught." That, in my opinion, is just as wrong as doing nothing when people do get caught. What the code has to do, and what the sporting clubs need to do, is to eradicate this culture of tolerating sick behaviour. The sport needs to be cleaned-up. More effort needs to be put into educating young sports men and women about the pressures, responsibilities and consequences of fame and fortune. More effort needs to be put into rooting out these outdated notions that society expects its heroes to behave no differently from the yobbo fans who adore or envy them. Sports stars are human and they need to be helped just like anyone else who finds themselves in similar circumstances.

What I'd like to know, though, is how the NRL intends to spend the $100,000 that it has fined the Manly Sea Eagles club. I think they should use the money to establish rehabilitation services, counselling or other help for the players. Obviously the clubs aren't doing their share!

If you think I'm wrong then say "I think you're wrong". If you say, "You're wrong", how do you know?
Last edit: 10 years 3 months ago by sozzled.

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