I recently wrote a column about DeflateGate, the much-ado-about-nothing conflagration in the NFL this past offseason and preseason. Unfortunately, I have to write something about the thoroughly disheartening nothing-about-much-ado that the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks are foisting upon us in the lead-in to this years NHL season.
This isn’t some naive and sanctimonious rant about athletes being role models. I’m way past that. (Though anyone who doubts the potential of an athlete interested in that job description might just want to do a quick Internet search on Subban,PK.)
For those unaware, Patrick Kane is an unbelievable hockey player for the Blackhawks. He is also under investigation for sexual assault in his hometown in Western New York regarding an incident during the offseason. Currently, no charges have been filed. Currently, Patrick Kane is at the Blackhawks training camp at Notre Dame.
I’m not a lawyer and I’m not going to pretend to be. My understanding of the legal situation is that under the law, and the players’ collective bargaining agreement with the league, the Blackhawks have every right to have him there, and Patrick Kane has every legal right to be on the ice with his teammates. That doesn’t mean that he should be.
Whatever the league or team rules are, Kane shouldn’t be in training camp, in front of the media, doing press conferences, or any public appearance representing either the Blackhawks or the NHL.
Kane may very well be exonerated, or a settlement may be reached in his case. It is entirely possible that he has done absolutely nothing wrong, and that this is all a terrible misunderstanding. (That doesn’t seem likely, but until there is an official report of the investigation and its facts, it is possible for that to be the case.) Just because Patrick Kane is famous and has a bit of a reputation for being an idiot, it doesn't mean that he is guilty of what he has been accused.
However, this accusation isn’t some financial violation or bar fight. He has been accused of a premeditated sexual assault. We live in a society in which violence against women has been entirely too politicized. Occasional false accusations (Google Duke Lacrosse or UVA fraternity) obscure and undermine the very real victimization of women, young women in particular.
His “accuser” (as she will be known unless he is found guilty, in which case she will be his “victim”) is, for now, an anonymous woman who subjected herself to a rape kit and has to suffer through hearing all about her willingness to throw herself at a good-looking young hockey player. Patrick Kane, on the other hand, gets to play hockey and tell us all how when the truth comes out it will show that he did nothing wrong, though he might want to amend his initial foray into self-defense.
Patrick Kane’s accuser deserves to have her privacy protected until this criminal investigation is complete and charges are either filed or they aren’t. Until then, she will be invisible. Unfortunately, Patrick Kane won’t be.