Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hypocrisy & Double Standards in the Jameis Winston Saga

There may not be a better example of the pathetic state of college football's administration and its portrayal in the media than the ongoing situation with Jameis Winston.  It is looking more and more likely that any potential long-term suspension or dismissal from the team will be the result of Winston profiting from his signature (something 99% of college students can do without repercussions) as opposed to being accused of a sexual assault in which the school and police department botched the investigation.  Now, this article is not about Winston's innocence or guilt, but rather it is about an unfair and asinine process in which extremely biased administrators arbitrarily dole out punishment without any thought to anyone except themselves.  And except for a few rare instances, major sports media either outright defends or ignores this flawed process.

Photo Courtesy of ABCnews

Rewind to 2013.  Late in Winston's Heisman/National Championship season, the state attorney announceed an investigation into sexual assault allegations that were made against almost a year earlier.  It quickly comes out that the initial investigation was "open/inactive".  Almost instantaneously fans and media alike start the chorus: "due process!", "let the criminal justice system play out", and "you can't suspend him until he is found guilty".  Obviously, it seems, when it comes to allegations of sexual assault, due process and guilt beyond a reasonable doubt are important to fans, administrators, and commenters alike.  And we know how this portion of the story goes: Winston and the Seminoles win the national championship and Winston takes home the Heisman after the Tallahassee DA (with some light-hearted chuckling) announces that charges will not be filed.

Now, lets juxtapose the sexual assault allegations with Winston's most recent snafus.  Winston was suspended for a game for shouting a vulgar phrase popularized on the internet after the World Cup.  That's right, Winston was suspended a game for saying something millions of other people have said.  Where is due process now?  What about Winston's freedom of speech or the arbitrary nature of punishing only him for saying something many others have said?  Better yet, what about letting the criminal justice system play out before suspending him?  Shouting something vulgar is not even a crime.  Yet, Winston is suspended a game anyway and the media, for the most part, thinks it was the "right thing to do".

Currently, Winston is in hot water for possibly profiting from signing some memorabilia.  Hopefully, all readers have come to understand just how grossly unfair this rule is to begin with.  But in what can only be described as insanely hypocritical, the NCAA is now investigating these allegations and are likely to rule Winston ineligible if they are able to substantiate the claims.  Once again: not a crime (not even close), no due process, and no guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  The key difference, it appears, is that the NCAA feels Winston's actions affect their interests in maintaining their amateurism rules.

The hypocrisy and double standards in the Jameis Winston situation are abundant.  Winston is afforded all the benefit of the doubt in the world when it comes to allegations of sexual assault.  However, when Florida State's or the NCAA's public image come into play then Winston is singled out and made an example of.  In sum, being accused of sexual assault results in no discipline, saying something vulgar warrants a one game suspension, and getting money to sign memorabilia may result in ineligibility.  

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