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Why MLSE's handling of FHRITP fell flat

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On Mother's Day, CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt fell victim to a cruel joke from a group of men who decided to sexually harass her on live television. The aftermath left MLSE scrambling and what they came up with wasn't quite good enough.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The culture accompanying professional sport has always been dominated by male bodies and their ability to relate to one another by wishing they were on the field, court, or ice.

Women have always been on the outside looking in when it comes to male-dominated professions of any ilk including NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL players in that discussion.

There is a notion attached to the highest level of sport played by men; it's for men, not women. If women were on the field, it would be for women. This way of thinking is unequivocally sexist.

On Mother's Day, a Toronto FC fan ran up to CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt and said "F**k her right in the p***y." A woman, who was on live television, was victimized by a vulgar and demeaning trend someone without any respect for themselves and others started.

Shauna, as any frustrated and disrespected woman would do, confronted the crowd of men waiting around to see the aftermath.

For a woman who was just embarrassed on live television her first question to the group of men laughing was not "What the f**k is wrong with you?" but a civil, "Can I ask why you would want to say something like that?" The response was telling of the intelligence level of the human being who responded, "I feel like it's quite substantial."

After Hunt rightfully told the men in many more composed words that assaulting anyone with such vulgar language is obscene and degrading, she was clearly getting nowhere.

Two days later Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment released a statement and ensured these kinds of offences would not go unpunished. MLSE has banned the four men identified in the video from all MLSE facilities for at least a year. Only one year though as to not lose too much money from the four sexist men who acted like little boys.

MLSE's ban was a necessary move. If nothing was done, it gives the impression they tolerate verbal and sexual harassment. If they banned them for life, it would set too high a precedent showing the city of Toronto those comments and actions will never be tolerated. You win some, you lose some.

One of the men identified in the video lost his job at Hydro One and has since had his face plastered all over the news. This is an unfortunate tale of feeling invincible at the ripe old age of too old to consider yourself invincible.

Once the employer caught wind of the actions, they had no choice but to fire the man for his behaviour, purely from a public relations standpoint as MLSE acted. This isn't a solution, this doesn't mean these things will never happen again and this is only one man of millions who still believe sexual harassment is a joke.

One of millions who believe words don't mean anything and joking about harassment is just that.

Sure, Twitter, TV and the internet helped get a man fired for endorsing sexual harassment on live television. These cases don't often present themselves so well, of course he deserved to be fired if his world view is to ignore decency. The bigger picture is far more intricate than a one-year ban.

When I attend professional sporting events I do so with the colours of whatever team I'm supporting and a friend or two. I go to the game to watch the game, I attend because I want to see a live sporting event. I attend because I know the sport, not for the check-in on Facebook. I am knowledgable, I have studied many different sports and have extensive knowledge. This shouldn't matter.

Going to a game doesn't mean you're a "true" or "real" fan, it means you want to experience a live showcase of athletics. There is no prerequisite to attending a game. You pay your money and you watch just like everyone else. There is no screening process for jerks, or verbal harassers.

Each time I've gone to a game whether it be baseball, basketball, hockey, etc. I have heard and ignored more than a few vulgar comments hurled my way. This is not a problem unique to Toronto.

This is an everyday battle that women face when they enter a stadium or arena filled with men who think they are superior to the women among them.

When I meet new people and describe my passion for sports I get the typical, "Wow, a woman who knows her sports, you are few and far between." Actually, I know many females who indulge in the world of professional sport and know more than a thing or two about everything to do with said sport.

The notion that women don't belong is alive and unfortunately thriving. I would feel uncomfortable going to security and saying "This man over here double-fisting beers won't stop yelling that I'm pretty and how he'd like to take me home."

Any security guard would probably ask me what they wanted them to do about it. I cringe at the thought of them telling me, "You should be flattered." If I feel unsafe or harassed that is enough reason for security to step in and remove the individual from my section at the very least. It is far too difficult to ask the man's friends to calm him down or tell him to cut it out instead of laughing at it, you see, because harassment is funny to a lot of people who aren't being harassed.

If you're caught on camera harassing or abusing someone or using unacceptable language, there's a high chance you're going to lose your job once that video starts to circulate. It's not a matter of if, but when. If you do these things without getting caught, you're likely to find them normal until someone steps in and says enough is enough. That is where we are in 2015 with sexual harassment.

Until the greater population learns what consent and respect are, these stories will continue to pop up. It's not OK to harass someone while they are trying to do their job. That is the message with the FHRITP story. The bigger message should be sexual harassment is still a term undefined by millions of people who don't understand what it is to respect others.