After listening to the most recent podcast, I find myself with a bone to pick. It may be a small one, since the item in question represented probably 1/30th of the podcast, but I still think it is worth mentioning. My esteemed colleagues Parks and Ben spent an early minute or two in the show plowing through the recent news about the two Oakland players - Duke Mondy and Dante Williams - who were arrested and later released after it was found that the rape charges against them were unsubstantiated. It was how they discussed it that got my ear twisted.
First we have Ben's commentary on the topic (sarcasm emphasized by me):
"Two games was enough for being out after curfew, being arrested, having to fly home before your team, leaving them shorthanded... I can see where two games was enough.
I struggle with the whole... the police found no evidence, not enough to charge them with, but something went on, something you don't want in the vicinity of your program, so two games seems small for the amount of shock by everybody when it came out."
This is misguided. Did something happen? Judging by Coach Kampe's tacit disagreement with their reinstatement, it's more likely than not. However, we can't make the logical jump and say that because charges were filed, and because of everyone's response to the news, something must have happened, namely something deserving of a longer suspension than two games.
For Oakland (and of course the rest of us), it should certainly be about treating these boys as "innocent until proven guilty." However, doing that would mean taking no action until the charges were either confirmed or dropped. As we have seen all too often, it is a much cleaner process for a school to automatically suspend a player, then end or extend the suspension when the final truth is determined, rather than doing nothing and then having to drop the hammer because the truth that gets revealed is an ugly one.
Add in the fact that these charges are for something as serious as rape, and the populace at large would lambaste the school if the charges were legitimate and the school did nothing until confirmation of the players' behavior came out. Comments would be made about the school trying to cover for their players or hide some tacit knowledge of the events, and that is what would be run with, rather than "let's not treat them like criminals until they are convicted as such."
Which leads to that very point - both the police and the school did investigations, and in both instances the conclusion was not just that no rape occurred, but that no crime of any kind was committed. The school's reaction of sending the players home for what wound up being a week as a de facto suspension from the team is a pre-emptive strike in an attempt to save face, not proof of guilt.
Yes, something probably did go on, especially given Coach Kampe's later comment about his disagreement surrounding the "morals" of the situation. However, it's probably illegal to suspend a player for more than two games for "generic douchey behavior towards women" and would certainly incur backlash from the players, their families, and so on. Disagree with the players' relative morality in the moment, but the suspension probably was everything it could have been.
On somewhat the other end of the spectrum, we have Parks' comment (all sarcasm, no emphasis needed):
"The girls saw they were from Oakland and probably thought they were Golden State Warriors players, then the charges were dropped when they saw the Grizzlies uniforms."
Just as it is incorrect to assume that, because the players were arrested and/or suspended, they clearly must have done something wrong and deserve a longer suspension, it is equally wrong even to insinuate that because the charges were dropped, they must have been fabricated, namely by some woman gold-digging for a paycheck.
Both ends of the spectrum have existed before, of that I have no doubt. You need only the last three years of professional sports to find an athlete who probably got away with something because both the evidence and the testimony were inconclusive. You also in that same time frame have an athlete who didn't just get falsely accused, but spent five years in jail for it.
There are massive muddy issues involved that we will likely never know; did alleged victim and alleged assailant(s) know each other prior to meeting? Who said and did what? Which of those actions comprise a crime, versus simply behavior that the alleged victim found offensive or otherwise unsavory? All of this, and more, falls into the cloudy world of "he said/she said" without any concrete evidence. Furthermore, that lack of evidence could be due to it not existing, or it could be due to an unwillingness for the alleged victim to provide it, which are two completely different perspectives.
It was initially mentioned in our news stream for the story that it's unwise to jump to conclusions without the full evidence. This is challenging, because it's hard not to form an opinion based on the available evidence at the time, and it's almost never the case that you will have all the information necessary to make a truly informed judgement about everyone involved. All I'm asking is that we not wind up making off-hand comments full of unprovable assumptions that look silly when you really examine them.