That, however, is not what the Steubenville story is ultimately about. It’s not about a rust-belt community suffering the woes of an enfeebled steel industry, and it’s not about how important it is for Steubenville to simply “get over” its ignominious moment in the national spotlight. It’s about a 16-year-old girl who was raped by two young men who thought that being good at throwing and catching an inflated ovoid meant that they had cultural carte blanche to behave however they wanted. Being good at a sport doesn’t entitle anyone to automatic public sympathy, and delving into our cultural sympathy reservoirs to bemoan the tragedy of a football player’s young career cut cruelly short does not make news coverage sensitive.
Maybe Richmond and Mays cried at their sentencing, fine. They should have cried. They should feel very fucking sorry for what they did, because it’s awful. We, however, should not feel sorry for them because a university will most likely not give them a scholarship to play a game. The sooner this country comes to terms with that fact, the more civilized and empathetic a place it will be.
I can’t seem to wrap my head around this coverage regarding Richmond and Mays’ guilty verdicts yesterday. I realize that teenagers/people make mistakes and that many people are disheartened when an athlete turns out to be flesh-and-bone mortal. I even understand our modern society’s rejection of black and white views on morality, and the paradoxical need for criminals who are absolute monsters.
All of this aside, Doug Barry makes a great point in his piece from Jezebel: the important fact to take away from this trial is that these men are not somehow better people because they throw a football around for a few months a year. These athletes not only sexually assaulted an unconscious and noncompliant girl, they mocked her. They (and their friends) went out of their way to document her state and ridicule her. If you ever find yourself sympathizing with these boys, please watch this one more time and steel yourself against the bullshit narrative our media has taken to these past several weeks.