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The Milton Measure

Sexualized “Scouting Report” Scandalizes Harvard Mens’ Soccer

by Charis Palandjian on Friday, November 18th, 2016

The Harvard men’s soccer and cross country teams have received attention for the recent scandals in the realm of sexism. According to a November 4th article in The Harvard Crimson, a daily student newspaper run by the college’s undergraduates, the 2012 men’s soccer team produced a sexually explicit and offensive “scouting report” about the freshmen on the women’s soccer team.

This nine-page report included ratings, paragraph-long lewd assessments, and pictures of the women — all of which were circulated through the team’s email group. The document was recently uncovered on the email’s server and was first read by the Harvard’s Director of Athletics Robert Scalise on October 24th. Scalise brought the document to the administration and officials conducted an investigation that found that this practice of producing a “scouting report” continued beyond the 2012 season — even to this fall’s soccer team.

The administration canceled the rest of the men’s soccer team’s season, forcing the team to forfeit the two games left in their season. In an email sent to all Harvard student athletes, Scalise wrote that the soccer team must “decline any opportunity to achieve an Ivy League championship or to participate in the NCAA Tournament.” The strict ruling is consistent with the administration’s decision to ban “finals clubs” — social organizations on campus — because of exclusivity and gender inequality.

On November 4th, the Crimson published a respectful apology from the men’s soccer team to women everywhere, especially to those on the women’s soccer team. The letter refers to the women on the soccer team as “close friends” and that the relationship between them “means the world” to the men’s team. They continue to accept full responsibility for their actions and say that they are “deeply ashamed that it took a public revelation, a loss of trust, and damaged friendships for [them] to fully grasp the gravity of [their] conduct.”

The team optimistically looks forward and hopes to “start rebuilding the trust and relationships [they] severed, while doing anything possible to help heal the pain [they] have caused Harvard Women’s Soccer, their families, and women everywhere.” They also look to promote and guide conversations among other athletic teams at Harvard about sexism. The team writes that “all [they] can do now is take it upon [themselves] to be an example of change for the better,” and that this letter of apology stems from a place of “optimism and a willingness to advance an agenda of gender equality that is in line with the relationships that [they] want to cultivate.”

Two days after the scandal broke out, the men’s cross country team came forth with a similar situation. According to an article in The Harvard Crimson, the men’s cross country team created a spreadsheet that rated women on the women’s cross country team. Although the spreadsheet did not contain the level of crude language used in the soccer team’s “scouting report,” it was still derogatory and sexist. Speaking on behalf of his team, the captain of the men’s cross country team, Brandon Price, said “We [didn’t] want the school to find [the spreadsheet], without us first bringing it to them. The problem with the Men’s Soccer team was they tried to hide their stuff.” The men’s cross country team stepped forward with the spreadsheet, and although the 2014 spreadsheet included some lewd comments, Price claims that the team’s culture has changed since then, and the current spreadsheet is clean.

The Harvard men’s soccer “scouting report” and the men’s cross country spreadsheet are examples of the sexual harassment problems of our day. The Harvard administration’s intolerance towards sexual harassment ultimately communicates a positive message: to respect and acknowledge women everywhere. The apologetic response of the men’s soccer team proves optimistic for future changes in gender equity.

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Posted by Charis Palandjian on Nov 18 2016. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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