If you're on the internet and an NBA or NFL player has been charged or accused of some form of mistreatment of a woman then it doesn't take long before you get the equivalent of #NotAllSports taking place as hockey fan after hockey fan brings up that their sport doesn't have athletes that beat or rape or mistreat women. Not like the thugs in those other leagues. People can be shockingly naive.
It doesn't take much googling to find numerous stories in the public sphere or rumours that everyone knows about NHLers treating women like shit. There's Semyon Varlamov, Jason Smith, Patrick Roy, Slava Voynov, Drew Doughty, and that's just off the top of my head. No case is clear cut and there are myriad reasons both systemic and cultural for why these players have largely escaped punishment but the reality is that professional athletes are not immune from the larger problems in society. No sport is immune and suggestion otherwise is Pollyanna-ish at best and outright racist at worst.
This weekend a story came out about a couple of junior hockey players that highlighted another problem in the way that women are viewed and treated. Reading the twitter conversations of Chad Heffernan of the Belleville Bulls and Greg Betzold of the Peterborough Petes you can the rage that these players felt just because they were being rejected by a woman that wasn't interested in being their latest disposable conquest. It's no wonder women can feel unsafe turning down the attention of men when this is the crazy reaction that you get.
I'm obviously giving short shrift to the complexity of the issues involved. There's plenty of work done to highlight them in a variety of fashions from the street harrassment video that went viral (and is now generating a ton of online harrassment!) to this great post about why one woman didn't feel like reporting her multiple sexual abuses but I did want to make the point that this problem isn't bound by any race, creed, religion, and definitely not by any sport.
The Peterborough Petes released a statement in which they did not condone the comments (the written story messed it up) but didn't acknowledge that this represented a serious problem in how Betzold views women. Betzold apologized on twitter about how those comments don't represent his true values or views. They just represent the ones that he doesn't think will see the light of day. OHL players are apparently provided some social media training but apparently some things were left off of the dos and don'ts. By the way, not that it matters, but neither Chad Heffernan nor Greg Betzold were drafted into the NHL and a quick look at their profile suggests that neither one is going to the show. They'll probaly just be another couple washed up OHL losers but hopefully they'll learn something beyond "any private conversation online can easily go public".
IMPORTANT UPDATE [NOVEMBER 4, 2014 - 4:57PM]
So it looks like Jake Marchment is taking responsibility for the messages using Chad Heffernan's phone. As far as apologies go, it's actually pretty good.
In the past 24 hours there have been some comments made about my teammate Chad Heffernan.— Jake Marchment (@JMarch11) November 4, 2014
I would like to make it very clear that these comments were made by myself on his cell phone, not by Chad.— Jake Marchment (@JMarch11) November 4, 2014
Even though it was a private conversation, my comments were inaproriate, disrespectful, and I accept full responsibility for my actions.— Jake Marchment (@JMarch11) November 4, 2014
I have embarrassed myself, my teammates, the Belleville Bulls organization and the city of Belleville. I truly apologize for my actions.— Jake Marchment (@JMarch11) November 4, 2014
UPDATE [NOVEMBER 5, 2014 - 6:01PM]
Both players have been suspended for 15 games each by the OHL. That sends a good message I think.