July 14th, 2024

Chinook matter raises questions, prompts debate


By Lethbridge Herald on October 20, 2023.

LEAVE IT TO BEEBER
Al Beeber

Well, we’ve made it to the national news once again. And not for a good reason again. The alleged sexual assault at Chinook High School by members of the school football team has gotten attention right across Canada. I say ‘alleged’ because the suspects are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.

If this incident happened – and our police service wouldn’t lay charges if it didn’t – that speaks horribly about the individuals involved.

But some will say it’s more than about the perpetrators, it’s about the mentality and culture of male team sports.  

Some will say the Chinook High incident is an example of toxic masculinity run amok among youth and lay blame on the athletic institutions of school sports, or all sports for that matter, involving males. Some will say it’s an indictment of Chinook High itself and its athletes.

Is that fair? 

Some of those who have never participated in team sports – or any sport – may emphatically declare ‘yes.’ But it’s not that simple. Victims of abuse certainly will be watching this case unfold carefully.

In case nobody noticed, children – male and female – love sports. They always have and probably always will. 

Sports such as football and hockey, basketball, rugby, and so many others appeal to youth because of the energy, combativeness and skill required to excel. 

Competition is appealing and exciting and it has nothing to do with anything toxic. I’ve been part of teams and have known many athletes over the years and nobody because of the culture within the sport systems, felt compelled to be physically or sexually abusive to other human beings. 

Of course, I’m well aware of the Hockey Canada matter and so many others involving male sports teams. Who isn’t? 

And no abuse, of any kind, should be excused. But that doesn’t just include the world of team sports.

Hazing rituals over the years have made headlines for rare and serious incidents but those aren’t confined to sports teams. And from what the police have said, the incident at Chinook High was not a hazing ritual.

We have been told it was unconnected from football activities and that point can’t be emphasized enough. It’s not a team issue, it’s a person issue from what we know. 

Until a judge or the police say otherwise, we don’t have any right to assume otherwise. So to blame whatever allegedly happened on sports culture or school culture is patently unfair at this point when so little is known. And until this plays out in the court system – if it indeed makes it to a trial or pleas – we likely won’t actually know anything.

Male sports are under the microscope and every leader in male sports from coaches to administrators should understand that. They should be making every effort to ensure their athletes conduct themselves respectfully.

 If they don’t, that’s a failure of leadership and leadership is what establishes culture, including cultures of bullying in any environment from family to sports to the workplace. Poor leadership establishes poor cultures anywhere.

Sports are about team work and team building means character building. When we learn to play together as a team that teaches us skill sets that are invaluable throughout life.

 Sports teach us loyalty, sports encourage us to strive to excel and to never quit – key attributes for a successful life. They teach us to work through pain, a valuable lesson in life which often in the adult world isn’t easy.

Sports brings together people of different backgrounds, religions and races for one common goal. 

Sports teach us how to work together to achieve a common goal. Sports are uniting.

Do male sports themselves encourage participants to denigrate or humiliate others? Many might argue ‘yes’ and will be able to provide studies and opinions to prove their point of view. 

Hockey has too often been in the spotlight for antisocial acts but should this be a blanket indictment on maleness? We recently had one letter writer state that Caucasians have genocide in their DNA. Is that fair? Can we say truthfully and fairly say that race or gender are specifically responsible for certain behaviours?

Being part of a team is something special. It’s part of acceptance and whether that team is football, baseball, soccer or even a musical ensemble, being part of a team is rewarding and contributes to a sense of self-worth. 

We need team activities and we need to quit branding everything that happens just because male athletes happen to be involved as “toxic masculinity,” a term which now is used to describe any negativity that may arise from male team sports simply because of the gender of those involved. It takes blame away from those individuals – and their leadership – who should be facing accountability.

Those students involved in the Chinook High incident – if found guilty of a crime, especially sexual – will pay dearly for their behaviours. They will be completely ostracized should their identities become known if they are found guilty.

That is because no organization, post secondary education institute or workplace will want to be associated with people guilty of a sexual assault. 

Because they are juveniles, in theory we won’t learn their names. And that will help them if they step foot on the road to redemption in their lives. 

And if they do head down that path of redemption and self-discovery, hopefully they will become better people, more sensitive men and learn from their conduct. Hopefully, they will become advocates for compassion and kindness.

Hopefully, they will seek redemption and society will allow them to find it. 

In the meantime, let’s not smear the entire culture of male sports or even every male period for an incident that is disgusting to us all regardless of our gender. Let’s not make innocent athletes suffer because of the behaviours of their peers. 

Let’s play fair.

However, if any other students were aware an assault was happening – and we have heard absolutely nothing to suggest any others did – or if anyone knew it was going to happen, if they failed to alert authorities or intervene they are complicit just like someone who knows a friend is planning or committing a robbery or a murder and says or does nothing. 

They are complicit like the nuns who knowingly led innocent Indigenous children to be raped and abused by priests and kept their mouths shut.  Let’s be blunt about that. The nuns may not have committed the physical acts but their knowledge doesn’t mean they were innocent. 

Again, let’s play fair.

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Sharkmeister

These 2 statements appear to be contradictory. Also, just because someone is charged with something DOES NOT mean it happened.

“I say ‘alleged’ because the suspects are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.
If this incident happened – and our police service wouldn’t lay charges if it didn’t – that speaks horribly about the individuals involved.”

buckwheat

In this instance and any other instance the crown is the arbiter of laying or not laying charges. The police did their job. Police do not lay charges.

Last edited 8 months ago by buckwheat
Dennis Bremner

I am totally confused? You say “It takes blame away from those individuals – and their leadership – who should be facing accountability.”
Sudenly the guiding light is school staff? Of course sexual assault is never allowed or condoned, so now boys who are at their height of sexual frustration are a 24/7/365 responsibility of leadership? In light of the new agenda within schools I would dearly like to know how when promoting male testostorone based sports, where the objective is to “slay the other guy” whether a coach is to reconsider hard tackling because someone complained they broke a fingernail? Perhaps all male sports should have Dylan Mulvaney’s as Coaches so they can pre predict the collisions of his type in the future?
I forsee the day, where anyone who has testostorone will decide its best not to play football and what we will see is two teams of “Mulvaney girls” flitting about the field trying to catch a football and crying if hit?
In pursuit of inclusion we are setting up everyone else and of course no one wants to say it because they don’t want to be considered anti-ABCDEFGHIJ+++ I am not one of those people, I am anti-stupidity which society seems to think is inclusion, where in most cases its “bait”!

Shauna

Al, do you know the actual details of the event, or are you going off rumor and speculation like 99% of everyone else who is ready to pull out the pitchforks and torches? Comparing youth to the nuns and priests of the residential schools?!? Seriously?!? With your opinions slapped on the news with, I don’t know how many readers, no wonder these kids are being harassed and receiving death threats! Shame on you!!

For the readers, remember that “sexual assault is a very broad term that can range from a slap on the butt from a teammate to violent rape. Be careful to not assume the worst of the worst because of fear.

These boys are good kids who made a stupid decision. Who here has never screwed up a time or two. But man, shame on everyone spreading gossip and speaking hatefully about kids when you weren’t there and don’t know the whole truth!!

biff

one may wonder how much of this incident is parent driven, rather than driven by the alleged victim. was the alleged victim in fact traumatised by any events that took place, or is it that the victim’s perception and feelings around the matter have defaulted to the outlook of others.