With this election cycle, and frankly, the world being what it is right now, I have slowly been losing my faith in humanity. However, an unexpected source helped me slowly regain that faith, the Harvard University Athletic Department.
I am a huge soccer fan, and have been for as long as I can remember. Whenever I have been fortunate enough to go abroad, I have made it my mission to get a soccer shirt or jersey from that particular area. I mean, come on, how many other Americans can say that they own a Lichtenstein national team soccer jersey???
Anyways, back to my point. When I have the opportunity, I check for soccer news and try to watch any game that I can. Earlier this week, it was announced by the Harvard school newspaper that the men's soccer team had compiled a "scouting report" on the recruits for the women's soccer team. Sounds harmless enough, right? Wrong. It was full of lewd, sexual comments, ranking the women on "sexual appeal" as opposed to actual playing ability.
Colleges and universities have an unfortunate reputation of protecting their male sports players. Harvard shattered that reputation, suspending the rest of the men's season, and announcing that they would decline any opportunity to play in any tournaments, as punishment for their actions.
Why did this create a minor restoration of my faith in humanity you may ask?
With Donald Trump's "locker room talk", a harmful sphere of rhetoric was created, where women are allowed to be subject to derogatory, lewd comments, simply because it is "locker room talk". Personally, I believe that things like that are never ok, especially when they explicitly reference sexual assault, such as kissing and touching women without their consent. Below, although it is a humorous take on the situation, the meme shows an aspect of the absurdity that comes with it.
The irony of the Harvard case is that, in the United States, women's soccer grabbed the attention of the country and especially the youth. Men's soccer, although it is becoming more popular, has yet to catch up to the spark that the US Women's National Team provided in the 90s with their World Cup win. I understand and hear the arguments that the men's game is more competitive than the women's. However, competitiveness of the game as a whole had nothing to do with the women grabbing the nation's attention and inspiring legions of young women, including this writer, to kick around a ball.
Long story short, thank you Harvard, for stepping in to show that the kind of misogynistic "locker room talk" that your men's team engaged in by publishing the "scouting report" is unacceptable, and that it deserves the punishment of a suspended season. I sincerely hope that the punishment sends a message to other institutions, that this kind of "locker room" talk can not and will not be accepted.