I've never been prouder of my university.
Like all of you, I'm incredibly passionate about Gators football. I feel invincible when we win games. When we lose, it hurts. I remember how I felt when Jordan Reed fumbled near the endzone in 2012 against Georgia. That day was miserable. I remember beating LSU in the Swamp the same year, thinking, man, screaming your head off with 90,000 fans is an amazing experience that I'm lucky to be a part of. But Monday's awful news reminded me that the game I love so much, is just that -- a game.
I understand the grave situation our football team would be in without Treon Harris at quarterback. Can the Gators really win with Jeff Driskel? But then I think about the bigger picture. This is a case that involves an alleged sexual assault, and in that context, football doesn't matter. Not even a little. That's why Florida did the right thing in immediately suspending Harris.
The NFL is under fire for what critics say is the mishandling of several high-profile domestic violence and abuse cases. In three of them --- Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy --- the league was forced to overturn lenient, one or two game suspensions and make them indefinite. In these situations, football came first. It's inexcusable and appalling that a harsher suspension wasn't the first thing done to discipline these athletes.
And then we have Florida State's lack of an investigation of the Jameis Winston's sexual assault case. It took FSU 10 months after the police knew about the sexual assault accusation to collect DNA from Winston. It took the school a year to even question him in the case. It's taken two years for the Department of Education to finally begin a comprehensive investigation on whether or not the lack of an investigation violated Title IX.
In all of those cases above, football came first. The victims were just in the way of winning football games and making money.
In comparison, Florida learned about Treon Harris' situation and suspended him ONE DAY after the accusation. One day. Football games and revenue didn't matter.
"We have no tolerance for sexual assault on our campus," UF President Bernie Machen said in a release. "The university is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for every member of the UF community. We must strive to protect all of our students from sexual harassment and assault, and do everything in our power to promote a safe learning environment."
It's about time a school/team took a stand. I am incredibly proud that it was my school to do it. Let's make the process of reporting domestic violence and sexual assault cases easier for victims. Let's show that we care about them. Sixty percent of cases of sexual assault are not reported to police. Every two minutes, a person is sexually assaulted in America. When you see how poorly handled the cases were, excluding Harris', why would anyone report it? Making matters even more difficult, those who report abuse have to deal with short-sighted social media trolls. Stop making jokes about sexual assault.
Think about that. A jealous girlfriend? How awful is that? Subjecting women to ridicule for actually reporting abuse is nothing short of shameful.
It's time to stop putting football games --- or any athletic contest, for that matter --- ahead of accusers and victims. I'm so happy that my school chose to do that.
I can only hope that other schools and teams follow in the lead of UF. We're Gators. Let's lead the change.
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