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June 8, 2016 — A series of troubling responses

ADVISORY: If you’re a teenager reading today’s blog entry, you may want to read this with a parent or guardian alongside you.


Last Thursday, Brock Turner, a former varsity swimmer from Stanford University, was sentenced last week to six months in jail and three years’ probation for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in a parking lot near the Stanford campus back in 2015.

A powerful witness impact statement was read in court. A letter from Turner’s father was made public. The juxtaposition of the two has resulted in a wide-ranging discussion of a number of hot-button issues in American society, including rape culture, privilege, and the direct election of judges.

The discussions are a good thing, and somewhere along the line there is going to be a consensus about how women are treated in society and in the courts.

There was one story, however, that came out in the last couple of days that struck a dissonant chord. USA Today spent time and effort publishing a story touching on Turner’s eligibility for the 2016 Olympics, which makes as much sense as publishing a story on Turner’s fitness for, say, singing opera or solving a calculus problem.

It is notable that, while Turner was a scholastic All-American at Dayton Oakwood (Ohio), he had recorded four times which would have qualified him for the Olympic Trials, but those times were far below those needed to make the top three for Rio.

These days, however, Turner has no standing within the swim community. He withdrew from Stanford University last year and no longer is on the swim team. He has let his USA Swimming membership lapse. And, as we mentioned a few weeks ago, USA Swimming now maintains and publishes permanent “ban” lists of people who violate its Code of Conduct.

The USA Today story may have illustrated the fact that Turner won’t have any athletic recourse, but there are plenty of activities and privileges that he won’t have. As a convicted felon, he won’t be able to own a gun or vote in many states. He will have to register as a sex offender for life, which will affect his freedom of movement or even his ability to own or move into a home.

Participating in a swim meet is the least of his problems.

As it should be.

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