Category Archives: Sports

Brock Turner, Explained

Brock Turner is a rapist.

Brock Turner is a lot of other things, as well, but that is now the term that defines him, the most important and relevant descriptor to use when referring to him. He is a not a swimmer, though he knows how to swim fast. He is not a former Olympic hopeful, though he once carried that dream. He is not a Stanford student, a “baby-faced … freshman”, or a “record-setting … prodigy”, no matter what The Washington Post’s glowing fluff piece might have you believe. Brock Turner is a rapist.

You’ll notice that I am using his full name throughout this piece. That’s because I never want to forget his name, and I never want you to forget it, either. In America, we sometimes have had issues with the glorification of criminals, as we give neat nicknames and write books and make movies about famous serial killers and bank robbers and their ilk. That’s not what I’m intending. I want you to remember him because that’s the only punishment we have left now that the judge in this case has done little more than deprive Brock Turner of his summer vacation.  He should be remembered, feared, reviled and alienated. He should be made to feel alone, unsafe and insecure for the rest of his life. He should be made to feel the way he made his victim felt.

There is no apology one can offer that can atone for what Brock Turner has done, but one should still be offered, freely and sincerely, nevertheless. Instead, Brock Turner has continuously and vehemently refused to accept responsibility for his actions. In his rambling, nonsensical statement to the court, he repeatedly apologized for drinking to excess, for failing to ask for the victim’s number and for bowing to peer pressure: for all the things he did not need to apologize for. He has been enabled in his quest to absolve himself from all responsibility for the horrible violence he committed by absolutely everyone around him.

Brock Turner’s father Dan, in a disgusting, tone-deaf letter unfit to be printed on the toilet paper I use to wipe my ass, decried even the trifling sentence his son did receive as “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.” Apparently Dan Turner doesn’t believe anyone can truly do irreparable harm to another human being in a mere 20 minutes; that such a small amount of time isn’t enough to earn someone a trip to the state prison. One imagines that he might feel differently if someone spent 20 minutes hacking his identity to empty his bank accounts, robbing him at gunpoint or doing the exact same thing his son did to him or to a member of his own family. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 13 students and injured 24 others in 17 minutes at Columbine High School. It took Adam Lanza 10 minutes to murder his mother at home, drive to Sandy Hook Elementary, and take the lives of 26 additional people, including 20 elementary school children. A lot can happen in 20 minutes.

Then there is childhood friend Leslie Rasmussen, who shifted 50% of the blame for this rape upon Brock Turner’s victim, and the other 50% on our country’s mad descent into political correctness or, as normal people call it, treating other people with basic human decency. She actually said that “rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists,” which I totally get. While rapists are certainly a problem, it’s all these rapes that are being committed by non-rapists that are the real critical issue here. Are there real rapists out there? Sure. But rapes committed by people like Brock Turner aren’t the same as rapes committed by real rapists.

Finally we have judge Aaron Persky, who had the ability to put Brock Turner away for up to 14 years in state prison, but instead sentenced him to just six months in county jail. He said that he did so because “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.” That’s a wonderful thing, in general, for a human being to anticipate the effects that their actions might have on someone else before going ahead and doing whatever the entire shit they want to. Perhaps if Brock Turner had experienced that phenomenon for half a millisecond on the night he battered and raped an unconscious girl in an alley behind a dumpster, none of us would be here.

If you have not read the victim’s powerful letter that was read in court at his sentencing hearing, you need to do so, and you need to finish it, even when it makes you uncomfortable and is hard to get through. You need to read about her hurt, from that night and from every night since. You need to hear about her horrific experience at the hospital, being poked, prodded and photographed as nurses picked dirt and pine needles out of her hair and her genitals. You need to and so does everyone else, so that maybe next time we’ll have a judge who will enforce what begins to resemble a proper sentence, a father who is disgusted with the abhorrent acts of his son, and a friend who won’t come to the defense of a convicted rapist.

There is exactly one reason this rape happened. It wasn’t because the victim had too much to drink, and it wasn’t because Brock Turner had too much to drink. It wasn’t because of what she was wearing, how she was acting, who she was with, where she was, what she said or what she did. She was intoxicated, unconscious, and helpless, and Brock Turner forced himself inside her without her knowledge or her consent because he is a vile rapist who has been brought up in a culture that teaches people that it is a woman’s responsibility to prevent herself from being violated, and not a man’s responsibility to refrain from violating her.

Look at that photo. That is how you should remember Brock Turner. Not as a swimmer, or a student, but as a criminal, with news cameras in his face. Brock Turner is a rapist, no matter what he, his father, his friends, or Judge Persky has to say. He does not need to accept responsibility or admit guilt for that to be the case. In his statement he spoke of how one night of drinking has the capacity to ruin a life, somehow referring only to his own with a straight face as the woman he destroyed listened in stunned silence. Brock’s father Dan said that his son’s life “has been deeply altered forever” and that he’ll “never be his happy go lucky self” again. Neither will his victim, you god damned lunatic. His friend Leslie said, “He’s not a monster.” Yes, he sure as hell is. Brock Turner is a rapist. Remember and beware.

Dear Stoolies

Note: This was swiftly written, out of the order it’s presented in, while I was at work, because I thought it was important for me to write it. I’m posting it here at my old site because I don’t know where else it belongs. Sorry and thanks if anyone makes it here.

Note II: You can see this in prettier, better edited form over at Crooked Scoreboard here.

This is not written to the general public, in order to expose the disgusting, festering underbelly of sports fandom that one finds in places like Barstool Sports. If you want to read about what’s going on there, read Nicolas Stellini’s piece, read what Jen Mac Ramos had to say, or read any number of people who are better at writing and at being human beings than I am. No, this is for the “stoolies” themselves. I write this to each and every one of you, directly, and even though I know most of you will never truly hear these words (and this may never reach you at all), if I can get through to just one of you, it’s worth the effort.

I was once like you.

Today, I’m a 28-year-old … something. I’m not sure what to call myself. I’m a sportswriter, because I write for Brew Crew Ball and BP Milwaukee, but that’s not really my job. So I’m a financial aid professional, but I won’t be for long, and I’ve never felt any sort of emotional attachment to my job. So maybe I’m a teacher or, at least, a future teacher, since I’m a Master’s student in UW-Milwaukee’s English education program. Or maybe I’m not any of these things. Maybe I’m just Travis, and that’s fine.

I like to think that today, I’m a good person. And I think that the majority of the people I’ve met in the past four years or so would agree. I try to treat people with respect. I’m not the friendliest son of a bitch on the planet but it’s only because I’m painfully shy. I have strong opinions on a lot of issues that sometimes rub people the wrong way, but I think I’m on the right side of these issues – I consider myself a feminist, I’m pro-gun-control, and I support movements like Black Lives Matter that seek justice and equality for everyone.

But I wasn’t always this way.

If we run the clock back 5 years, you’ll see a man that is unrecognizable from the person I am today, and one who would fit right in among the millions in David Portnoy’s flock of minions. At my apartment on the lower eastside of Milwaukee, the n-word was tossed around by both host and guests like we were all Lil’ Wayne songs manifested and made sentient. Even this fails to truly illustrate just how casually this terrible word was dropped among the circle of people I called friends; it was filler, just a word to say when you had nothing else to add to a conversation. It was truly disgusting, and when I think about the way I spoke just five short years ago, I am flabbergasted to know that there is anyone who knew me back then that still calls me a friend today.

It didn’t end there. We treated women like garbage, regularly throwing around the same type of vitriolic hate speech amongst ourselves that can be seen in the comments thread of every Barstool post. Our “jokes” took aim at anything and everything targetable, and for years I tumbled deeper and deeper into the darkness as I slowly watched my other friends walk out of my life, fed up with my antics.

I’m not proud of any of this, and it’s not fun to have to admit to the sins of my past. I may lose some respect from some of the people who I’ve met since I’ve changed, who might not know the terrible things I’ve done in the past. Yes – the things that I have done. The things you say matter. But it’s important that you know that I was once like you, maybe even worse. You have to know that, because now I’m going to ask you to follow me, get the hell up, and walk away from it.

It wasn’t some great moralistic uprising inside me that forced me to make a change. There were other issues among the group – lies, backstabbing and thinly-veiled hostility – that one might expect from people with such low moral fiber. I made no grand speech. I’m not a hero. I was a garbage person, and I made a change and became just a person. Today, I think that I’m pretty good. But I have a lot to make up for.

When I hear people say those words – you know which words, and you don’t need me to *-word them to stuff them into your head once more – today I cringe, not just like any regular human would cringe at hate speech, but as someone who is beyond embarrassed to acknowledge the way I used to be.

I never hated black people. I never hated women. I never hated anyone. And I think that’s what made it so easy to continue to act the way I did without having to reckon with the fact that I was swiftly becoming an extremely shitty person. It didn’t mean anything, it’s all just a joke. Don’t you get it? It’s the same defense that comes from Barstool – from el presidente, as he’s styled himself, all the way on down to his newest crony – when anyone takes up the mantle of Social Justice Warrior (how in the world has this term become pejorative?) and jumps into the arena to do battle with their army of rabidly-misogynistic drones. It. Is. Not. A. Joke. You have got to realize that before you can start to make a change. It’s not that we don’t think that the joke isn’t funny. It’s not that we don’t get the joke. It’s just not a joke, It’s not a joke to tell a woman she has a “fuckin gross fat frog ice cream looking ass face.” What the fuck is wrong with you? Would you really ever say that to someone that was standing in front of you? It’s not a joke to tell her there’s “no job market for ugly broads with an extra chromosome.” It’s not a joke to call her a c-, a b- or any other disgusting, hateful word. IT’S NOT A JOKE. It’s real, and the people you are hurting are real.

A couple years ago, I briefly reconnected with the ringleader of the posse I used to spend time with. I think I needed his signature on something to finalize a dispute we’d had upon moving out of the apartment we’d been living in at the time. We got to talking a little bit about real stuff, with him accusing me of grandstanding about the changes I’d made in my life. He sent the following text:

“I don’t believe you don’t think that shit is funny anymore.”

I know you don’t. That’s why I left. Some people change, and some people never do.

Sometimes in our society, we hold up men who take such radical stances as “women should be treated equally” or at least “maybe it’s not okay to threaten to rape someone on Twitter” as heroes, but we’re not. That’s literally the baseline of not being a horrifically shitty person. It’s unfortunate that a need exists for someone to stand up and say, “Hey, stop harassing women you fucking idiots.” But we do, and the reason that need exists is you. You have created the need for the “Social Justice Warriors” that you demonize.

So that’s my message for you. The groupthink that emboldens you to act and talk the way that you do is wrong, and you can break free from it if you try. You don’t have to be this way. If your real-life relationships are more important to you than pats on the head in the form of twitter notifications from your favorite Barstool writers, then you don’t want to be this way. Some of you really do think that women are beneath you, lesser-than, and you’ll never change. But if you don’t think that way, and you this is all a big joke to you, it isn’t. It’s not a fucking joke, and there are real human beings that are reading your hateful diatribes that you’ve launched against them. It’s time to grow up.

FAQs for People Who are Trying to Argue With Me on the Internet

Hi.

I am not a laid-back individual.

This is something you may have noticed about me. If I disagree with someone, I will usually tell them. Loudly, bluntly, and without reservation, whether you’re an acquaintance or a dear, personal friend. For both of those types of folks, I have created this FAQ about my feelings about certain things. I will add to and subtract from this FAQ periodically as things become more and/or less relevant to the realm of current events. If you have been directed here by a link that I posted, please refer to the number that I mentioned in posting the link — but feel free to browse the entire FAQ if you wish.

1) It’s fine if you do not think it is a good idea for Milwaukee to build an arena for the Bucks. It might be a good fiscal move, and it might not. I do not know because I am not an economist and I do not have all the facts. Neither are you, and neither do you. I want them to build it because I want my basketball team to stay in Milwaukee. That is the only reason, and it is selfish. There are all sorts of things that I don’t use/care about that I still pay for with my tax dollars. We all just have to deal with that, because we live in a society and that’s the way it is.

2) I am not saying that all police are bad. To echo Donald Trump’s views of the Mexican population in the United States, “I’m sure some of them are good people”. When I say things like, “Hey, maybe that police officer shouldn’t have shot that unarmed black person because he might have committed an non-violent crime,” or “Hey, maybe it was wrong for that policeman to wrestle that woman to the ground and arrest her because she didn’t want put her cigarette out,” please stop setting up the Straw Man argument that I hate all police, that I think your friend Paul the Nice Police Officer Who Never Does Anything Wrong is a jerk,  that I am condoning violence against police, or anything of that nature. Please take my anger at face value, and stop projecting my frustration with the actions of the police officer(s) directly involved in the incident on the population of law enforcement as a whole. Your weird position of defending a murderous and/or out of control police officer in the name of protect the good names of some nebulous group of people that I’m not disparaging is discomforting and I would like you to stop.

3) Yes, I do think the Cardinals are the worst and that all of their fans are also the worst. This also applies to Seahawks fans and anyone from Boston. If you don’t like it then quit being a fan of those teams because they are objectively the worst and that is a fact.

4) It doesn’t matter that the Bible says that being gay is wrong, because it doesn’t matter what the Bible says about anything ever when it comes time to make some laws. If you don’t think it’s “right” for gay people to get married, then don’t go to their weddings, don’t let them get married in your church, and you can’t wear any clothes from anywhere except Farm and Fleet from now on. It doesn’t affect you. Most of the gay folks don’t think it’s “right” for you to cut your hair like that but they aren’t trying to make your mullet illegal because they aren’t jerks.

5) No one should have any guns. I don’t think all gun owners are bad or irresponsible. But facts tell us that other countries that have banned and/or restricted guns have significantly decreased their crime rates. In Japan, where it is nigh impossible to legally obtain a gun, they have a 0.3/100,000 murder per capita rate, and no one has been shot by a police officer since 2012. That is the 5th lowest of all countries for which such information is available. By contrast, the United States has 4.7 murders/100,000 people, which ranks them among Niger, Yemen, and a host of other third world countries. Unfortunately, we have to make laws to protect us from the few people who do use things inappropriately, which is why we also have to ban and/or restrict alcohol, drugs, etc.

6)I don’t care about your baby, I don’t care about anyone’s baby unless the baby is related to me. Babies are useless. They can’t carry on any kind of decent conversation, they don’t even know how to work a toilet, you have to carry them around everywhere because they can’t feed themselves or even walk and they’re always crying. It’s really good that you care about your baby, because someone definitely should care about it and I am not going to. Just don’t  be offended if I don’t want to see 12 videos of him doing some super easy shit like rolling around on the floor. Everyone can do that. Now if he’s doing some cool shit like drilling threes while blindfolded or playing the piano really well, definitely show me that video.

7) It doesn’t matter what [Skip Bayless/Colin Cowherd/Jay Mariotti/Other Old White Upper-Class Sports Talker] said. He said that so that you would get upset and talk about him for several days, and now that is what you are doing. If you stop paying attention to him he will go away.

8) Just because I disagree with you about something doesn’t mean that I think you are a jerk. I might think that you are a jerk, but my disagreement with you probably doesn’t have anything to do with that. I think sometimes people aren’t jerks can act like jerks, either because they get carried away with an argument and end up saying something they didn’t really intend, or because they just aren’t that well informed. I love you even if I think that you are wrong.

MEET THE BLUE DEVELS

Who likes Duke well it's no one that's who

Who likes Duke well it’s no one that’s who

#1 Duke Blue Devils
34-4 (15-3, 2nd in ACC)

How did they get here?
Duke blew through their half of the bracket with relative ease, as their only single-digit win was against #5 Utah in the second round. They received an at-large bid to the tournament after being bounced from the ACC Tournament semifinals by Notre Dame. The Blue Devils haven’t lost to a team that wasn’t Notre Dame since January 13th, when they dropped their second of two consecutive games against ACC also-rans.

Who is their best player?
Freshman Jahlil Okafor is your headliner, and with good reason, he’s one of the best players in the country and a certain top-2 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, barring a catastrophic injury. He’s averaging 17 and 8 and makes two thirds of his shots, which is preposterous. But the Blue Devils have a pair of freshmen in Tyus Jones and Justice Winslow (dig that name, bruh) who are pretty dang good too. Senior Quinn Cook provides #leadership.

Can the Blue Devils beat Wisconsin?
Of course they can, they already did back in December. But the Badgers were a very different team when they met Duke for the ACC Challenge. Beyond the natural growth of a team throughout the season (a process magnified by Bo Ryan), that game was played under the widely-held but false assumption that Sam Dekker was a human being. Now of course he has revealed his true nature to us, that of the ancient god of ball, Threesus. Dekker scored five points in that game. If he scores five points tonight I will eat my hat.

Did you ever imagine you would wake up on Opening Day and care more about something other than baseball?
Nope. I can’t put into words how much I want this. Not only for myself as a fan, but for these young men. Has any team ever been so damn likable? We know we’re losing Frank and Josh after tonight and at this point, it’d almost be irresponsible for Sam to stay, as he’s almost certainly played himself into the lottery over the last month. The Badgers will reload, as the always do, but this team is special, on and off the court. #MakeEmBelieve

What is the best case scenario?
Any scenario in which this game ends with the Badgers having more points on the scoreboard than the Blue Devils is the best case scenario.

What is the worst case scenario?
The Badgers one-in-a-million shot misfires, and the Evil Empire wins another championship to add to their pile of trophies as Wisconsin and the entire nation outside of Durham mourns. Everyone that conceivably could declares for the draft and Bo is left having to replace 80% of his starting lineup, a tall task even for him. The Badgers finish 3rd in the B1G next year.