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Archive for March 9, 2018

March 9, 2018 — A scandal for a technological age

The Internet universe has been all a-flutter late today, because a member of the United States U-19 national field hockey team was filmed uttering racially inflammatory language on an Instagram Live video.

The student was identified by classmates as junior midfielder Charlotte de Vries, one of the nation’s leading goal-scorers the past couple of years, who made a verbal commitment some time ago to attend the University of North Carolina.

The backlash was strong, and the consequences immediate. USA Field Hockey, through its Twitter feed, announced, without mentioning names, that the player was suspended until the matter could be reviewed.

There was also a vicious Twitterstorm late Friday, with a number of people weighing in, including a former member of the UNC men’s basketball team. Some went so far as to ask that North Carolina withdraw her scholarship.

Now, there’s a problem with that: de Vries has not signed a National Letter of Intent because she is a junior. As a result, UNC doesn’t have a scholarship to revoke.

Too, if UNC makes it known that she is no longer welcome to apply to the university, there are 79 other Division I universities with field hockey programs, and at least one of them will welcome her with open arms as well as perhaps a community service or racial sensitivity training requirement.

This is a very difficult situation all around, including on a personal level. Your Founder has gotten to know the de Vries family over the years, and Kerry de Vries is not only one of the best two-sport athletes (softball and field hockey) in the history of the University of Iowa, she’s also a straight shooter who will tell you what she thinks and does not suffer fools gladly.

That being said, what her daughter said in the viral video is wrong, always has been wrong, and will always be wrong. But as ugly as the video may be, I think a nuanced approach is best when it comes to next steps.

Why? Charlotte de Vries is a minor, and that she should have a chance to learn from her mistakes as she enters legal adulthood. I believe, unlike the attitude Hollywood has taken against Seinfeld cast member Michael Richards after a video of him uttering racial slurs became viral and ended his career, that de Vries should be given one chance to redeem herself.