I keep seeing quotes from people and press references to the similarity between the 2006 “Duke scandal” which I call the “lying stripper scandal” and the “Virginia murder” or “lacrosse murder”. The comparison is ridiculous for one huge reason – Hugely did it! The boys at Duke did not. They didn’t behave well but they did not rape or try to rape anyone. They did not deserve the aftermath of that party. A massive hangover would have sufficed as punishment for what they really did that night. Even the kids who were not accused lived a two to three year hell.
The Virginia men’s team, on the other hand, feels terrible and mourns the loss of a friend but perhaps deserves to feel bad, even a bit guilty, when it comes to doing something about their psychotic teammate. The idea that Hugely attacked Yardley twice before in front of other players and that they did not tell the coach is absurd or terribly irresponsible at best. Teams tell each other everything. I am assuming that every player on that team knew that Hugely was at least a threat of violence against Yardley Love. None told the coach? If members of the women’s team knew something, they should have reported it too.
I have seen too many comments from the men’s team directly and indirectly about moving on and I think while finishing the mourning process is appropriate and healthy, let’s not move on quite yet.
The Governor of Virginia has called for a process that informs schools when their students commit crimes. Perhaps Colleges need to make some changes too. Like when players know one of their own is a violent psychopath, perhaps they should be bound by school policy, at least, to tell the coach. Or maybe a rule that says when a coach knows one of his players is a danger to others with a proven record of it, they should, by mandate, have to report it to school officials outside of the athletic department.
These are good ideas no matter what happened at Virginia but finding out exactly what happened at Virginia is not only the right thing to do for Yardley Love and her family, but it’s the only way to really gain closure on the issue. Moving on is a little premature. Laws may not have been broken. I don’t know. But if I am pissed off beyond words at George Hugely for what he’s done to a beautiful young woman, his school and lacrosse itself, then I am at least angry enough to speak out on why it was not prevented, when it seems obvious that this kid should have been thrown out of school much earlier.
And if you think the game of lacrosse has not been hurt, you’re nuts. The term “Lacrosse murder” is used everywhere. Privilege is being associated with the game and the entitlement of our schoolboys is talked about daily on cable news. The class card is being avoided by blaming a game for the sense of entitlement that comes from living a “lacrosse lifestyle.” And we cannot deny that much of lacrosse is played at private schools or at least upper income neighborhoods. We also cannot deny that we have more that the average of entitled young people heading off to the major colleges to play lacrosse. We all know it.
I live in the area where Landon and Georgetown prep are located. Much of the criticism locally is split between Landon’s affluence and lacrosse’s entitlement. I have overheard many conversations about it at the grocery store, bars, sidewalks and restaurants. I was sitting at one restaurant with my wife and the sentiment of one woman sitting directly behind me was troubling and representative of the opinions of many. After a conversation, albeit a somewhat badly informed one, about the whole affair and the entitlement of Landon and lacrosse kids, she said, “maybe it’s not so much Landon as it is lacrosse.” Think about that. In other counties and other states, they don’t have Landon to blame so it’s all on lacrosse with at least a portion of the population. We will see if it affects the tremendous growth in the youth sport that occurs on an annual basis in new areas. If this is the thing they associate with lacrosse in an area that doesn’t know any better, lacrosse may never spring up there as it has in so many places lately.
For the sake of the sport, openness and accountability need to be achieved. For Yardley’s sake, all measure of justice, large and small, must be served.