Acknowledging Kane and Rooting for Castro

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When is it okay to start rooting for the Blackhawks again?

I’m asking as someone who’s been disappointed, angry, and at times outraged about how Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks have handled the allegations against the star winger.

The pre-camp press conference was tone deaf and a disaster. Jonathan Toews didn’t “no comment” on an interview. Ex-Hawk Daniel Carcillo bombed his public opinions. And, of course, Kane was allowed to participate in training camp and start the season with the Blackhawks. All of those things have been heavily scrutinized by local and national reporters and personalities and, of course, in the Twitter-sphere.

At Cheer The Anthem we have a pretty longstanding and in-depth group text that talks everything from politics to music to sports. Mostly, though, we talk Blackhawks hockey. Throughout the Kane investigation and the subsequent mishandling from Hawks management we’ve struggled to really get a grip on how we want to deal with this team as fans. We debated the writings of columnists like Julie DiCaro and Tim Baffoe — two well-respected folks on Twitter — and how they chose to educate us on how we talk about rape culture in sports. We talked about how entertaining a trade for Kane would be a great way to get value for Kane and allow Kane to be someone else’s distraction. We talked about how our friends and colleagues would react and we were confident that we didn’t know any of the subhumans that choose to threaten reporters for reporting.

We mostly sat on the sidelines and left the takes up to others. Punching down and documenting idiots and calling them idiots, in my opinion, doesn’t help further the discussion of misogyny and rape culture in sports. The “Patrick Kane is Not Your Friend” column, to me, was fairly insulting from Baffoe. The folks who read and shared that story, for the most part, aren’t going to be changed by that column because they’re probably all on the right side already. It turned into a whole bunch of people shouting the same things at one another – don’t support sexual assault in sports and athletes aren’t heroes. But, we kept being told that if we weren’t shouting about it, we were somehow part of the problem.

That’s neither here nor there, I suppose. Because, like I said, we’re on the same page here. Patrick Kane’s track record is not a good one. He’s punched another human in public and there’s rumors of his antics with women in Wisconsin that are appalling. Patrick Kane is an unlikeable character who’s being investigated for rape. Despite that, he’s not been charged yet. And even though he hasn’t been charged yet, many of our friends and people that we respect are stepping away from the game (though some have written that and then have continued to support the team by attending games).

It saddens me, because hockey is supposed to be this communal thing. Something we can all get behind and gather to watch so that we can cheer and cry and yell and high five. And this year, I don’t get to interact with one of my favorite CtA personalities — Mike D. He was an asset to the site, a wonderful personality, and someone I consider a friend from across the pond.

That sucks.

What the Blackhawks’ PR disasters and the decision to let Patrick Kane to play this season has done to this community is upsetting. Hell, I understand the decision to step away and re-evaluate one’s fandom. It’s noble. It’s not one that I am choosing and that should be okay too.

But this leads me to the question that I asked to kick this whole thing off. When is it okay to root for the Blackhawks again? I ask because there are plenty of people who have disowned (for lack of a better word) the Blackhawks over the last two months that are still readily cheering for the extremely fun and talented and exciting Chicago Cubs.

The front office that brought us Jake Arrieta and Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber is the same one that allowed Starlin Castro to show up to spring training and play 14 games before charges were officially not going to be filed against him for rape. After a garbage season, his resurgence in September has been lauded by everyone, including a column by Baffoe. DiCaro wrote a piece 9 months after the allegations against Castro in which she hoped he was still a big part of the Cubs’ future.

I’m just curious about the consistency of the messages here. Many who have stepped away don’t seem to have much issue with Starlin Castro mashing taters and playing good baseball or the fact that the Cubs made no effort to keep him from Spring Training. Yes, it was two and a half years ago and some things change, but I don’t think you should retroactively get a pass — especially if we’re content (and I am) to absolutely hate that the Blackhawks use Bobby Hull as an ambassador.

Is the rule of thumb nine months for us to step away? If so, the bandwagon should fill right back up around playoff time. If not, then maybe we should think about how the consistency in our messages and outrage affects the overall conversation of rape culture in sports. It’s easy to feel this way about the Blackhawks — we’ve gotten to see Stanley Cup wins. We got ours, and walking away isn’t that tough when you’ve reached the peak of the mountain a few times. Walking away from a team on the upswing — that can win multiple titles after 100+ years of futility — is a tough one.

Outside of a tone-deaf press conference and some ice girls, what’s the real difference here?

8 comments
Emoji
Emoji

I think what's happening with Kane is that there has been a lot of anger building about a lot of related issues for a long time - a long history of similar allegations not being taken seriously and no real consequences for a lot of athletes in a lot of sports (and a lot of other people in a lot of other industries). Castro was long enough ago, even if it was only a couple years, to benefit from that. People are more aware now than ever about the influence of sexism in our culture and there's been a lot of high-profile shitshows in and out of sports - the visibility of twitter harassment, football's endless stream of disasters, gamergate, just lots of stuff happening that I can't point to any statistics for but do think has been kind of swelling in cultural importance, particularly among People Who Read Shit on the Internet. Folks are angry. They want to see actual consequences for bad behavior that don't require video evidence so heinous that even the NFL can't ignore it.


So when Patrick Kane gets accused of rape during a championship offseason, it's basically a perfect storm. He's incredibly high-profile and he's certainly earned no benefit of the doubt. The accuser went straight to the police and the hospital, which even putting aside the statistical unlikelihood of false accusations, is not the behavior of someone simply looking to extort a payout. For the first month and a half of this disaster, there was no real reason to think this wasn't a case of a star athlete doing something heinous. Patrick Kane seemed like the poster boy for doing something awful but being good enough at hockey to get away with it. So when the league declines to suspend and the team holds a pretty boneheaded press conference and welcomes him back to camp, plenty of people hit their here-we-go-again limit and pushed the big red apoplectic button - fuck all this, they're done. I get it, it's a legitimate response, I've done it myself in other situations that I hit my personal limit on, and the Blackhawks are not owed anybody's allegiance, money or attention. Anyone deciding that this was just another entry in a long list of negligent behavior and that they considered it the last straw is certainly within their rights to do so.


The poke in the eye is, individual cases rarely stick strictly to the expected narrative and are not required to conform to statistics. I absolutely assumed for the first month that the state of NY would eventually get all their ducks in order, there would be charges filed, and at that point he would be suspended and I wouldn't have to look at him anymore. But watching that DA's press conference, with the Brady rule DNA disclosures and the evidence tampering hoax and the uncooperative witnesses and the withdrawing attorney.... I don't know if it's officially ironic that the case everyone finally decides is the Final Straw is the one where there's this much legitimate doubt, but it sure is something. And I think you're right that everyone looking for a better institutional response on sexual assault allegations going all-in on the outrage in this particular case has the potential to blow up in the face of everyone who wants the world to be better. It already is, to some extent, which is just making everything worse. 


It's undeniably hypocritical to root for Castro and the Cubs (or the Kings, or the Avs, or pretty much every other team or sports league) while declaring yourself done forever with Kane and the Blackhawks. It's not a mortal sin, though - lots of people are hypocritical about lots of things, all the time. I know I sure am.


sammysue
sammysue

Thanks for this.  I don't begrudge fans the decisions they make in light of the awfulness of this situation.  If it's too much right now, walking away is reasonable and I wish them the best of luck.  However, I DO begrudge the hypocrisy of some sports writers and columnists in their coverage of the Patrick Kane case.  It seems pretty clear that Kane's past history (whether rumored or accurate) is a big factor in the stance some have taken on his issue.  That is the difference between him and Castro.  Do we think that all these writers would have taken the same stance if (god forbid) Jonathan Toews had been accused of this crime?  No, reputation is huge here.  Some think that's fair, other's don't - but it is pretty clear with the recent DNA evidence, contradictory reports, and the bag hoax that this situation is not as cut and dried as we were led to believe in August.  I don't think a wait and see approach is as horrid as it has been painted, as long as no one engages in victim blaming.


I hope that we get a clear resolution to an increasingly muddled case, but that is not always how investigations or the politics involved within those investigations actually works.  The DA in this case seems incredibly competent so perhaps we can have a resolution that allows for fans to feel more comfortable in their decision to either give or withdraw support.

sammysue
sammysue

Thanks for this.  I don't begrudge fans the decisions they make in light of the awfulness of this situation.  If it's too much right now, walking away is reasonable and I wish them the best of luck.  However, I DO begrudge the hypocrisy of some sports writers and columnists in their coverage of the Patrick Kane case.  It seems pretty clear that Kane's past history (whether rumored or accurate) is a big factor in the stance some have taken on his issue.  That is the difference between him and Castro.  Do we think that all these writers would have taken the same stance if (god forbid) Jonathan Toews had been accused of this crime?  No, reputation is huge here.  Some think that's fair, other's don't - but it is pretty clear with the recent DNA evidence, contradictory reports, and the bag hoax that this situation is not as cut and dried as we were led to believe in August.  I don't think a wait and see approach is as horrid as it has been painted, as long as no one engages in victim blaming.


I hope that we get a clear resolution to an increasingly muddled case, but that is not always how investigations or the politics involved within those investigations actually works.  The DA in this case seems incredibly component, so perhaps we can have a resolution that allows for fans to feel more comfortable in their decision to either give or withdraw support.





The Other One
The Other One

Simple question - what is he's exonerated (or to a lesser degree, no charges are filed and the DA makes a statement at the thinness of any evidence)?


And no, I am not supporting "rape culture" with that question..................................

neverAcquiesce
neverAcquiesce

Fantastic take, thank you.


Guilty or not, charged or not, this nebulous period for Kane may never truly end. To ease a conflicted mind, many of us at SCH are donating $1 for every point Kane scores this season to RAINN or a similar organization. Doesn't mean we think he's innocent, doesn't mean we think he's guilty, just means I can ease my conscious as I watch my team.

fromheretoinfirmary
fromheretoinfirmary

Thank you so much for this article. It has indeed been hard to get excited about the Blackhawks this year, due to the constant negativity by a lot of the community. Now, that negativity may be warranted, but the suggestion that rooting for the team or, hell, for patrick kane to make an awesome play for that matter means you support rape or think rape is fine or think rapist should get a pass as long as they're a famous athlete just isn't fair. Patrick Kane hasn't been charged with anything yet, and even though some have said that doesn't necessarily matter, I still think that means that I'm not the scum of the earth for rooting for the hawks. The last few paragraphs of this piece are spot on too.

fromheretoinfirmary
fromheretoinfirmary

Thank you so much for this article. It has indeed been hard to get excited about the Blackhawks this year, due to the constant negativity by a lot of the community. Now, I'm that negativity may be warranted, but the suggestion that rooting for the team or, hell, for patrick kane to make an awesome play for that matter means you support rape or think rape is fine or think rapist should get a pass as long as they're a famous athlete just isn't fair. Patrick Kane hasn't been charged with anything yet, and even though some of said that doesn't necessarily matter, I still think that means that I'm not the scum of the earth for rooting for the hawks. The last few paragraphs of this piece are spot on too.