Various things came up in the last week or so, so I wasn't able to video myself saying words of support in the aftermath of the sexual misconduct allegations against an Ontario Blue Jays head coach. My buddy Pat Smith asked me to participate, but it just never came together. I might still do it at some point, but I thought I'd share what I wrote to say. This is Pat's video.
ONTARIO BLUE JAYS - Video of Support
In light of recent sexual abuse allegations of a former coach of mine on the Ontario Blue Jays, I felt compelled to create this video and discuss the topic, the culture, my experiences as well as offer support to those who may be victims of the abuse. If anyone needs to talk, I'm here for you. The whole community is. It's my belief that an honest discourse here could be very healthy for all involved and the baseball community as a whole. Cheers. Pat.Posted by Pat Smith on Saturday, February 20, 2016
This is what I would say:
Hello, my name is Joanna Cornish and I write a baseball blog called Hum and Chuck. I’m doing this video bequest of my buddy Pat Smith, who very bravely came forward to talk about his experiences with the Ontario Blue Jays and youth baseball in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations about the head coach of the under 18 Ontario Blue Jays team. I’m also doing this as a fan of baseball who is disturbed by some things I’m hearing about.
This is directed at all those kids that were in situations like what Pat described in his video, within the Ontario Blue Jays organization and in baseball in general. Some of them might be teenage boys. Some of them might be grown men.
There is no prescribed reaction one has to abusive situations, but men who have been abused might find it difficult to speak about it because of societal expectations we put on them- these expectations of being physically dominant, tougher, meaner and not soft are heightened in sports culture. It’s encouraged. And all of these things come at a cost.
Most of the bad news sports stories, if you really think about it, are linked to this- concussions in the NFL and NHL, performance enhancing drugs, unaddressed mental health situations, rape culture in university sports programs. It stems from the idea that men have to prove their toughness, their dominance, in order to be valued. I can almost guarantee most abusers within sports culture would use that as an excuse. "He needed toughening up. He needs to be pushed to the next level."
So I would like to say to any person who was in the situation Pat described, to all the men that might have contacted him privately about it, please don’t be afraid to seek help. You don’t have to make any public declarations, but if you are suffering, if you have trouble trusting people, if you feel out of control, there is help for you. And you are not alone. People will believe you. I will believe you.
As a culture, we need to stop accepting these things are part of “boys being boys” or assuming that physical or sexual humiliation is part of becoming a man. We need to stop expecting it of boys and we need to stop subjecting girls to it. We are all responsible for this culture change within the game, as a baseball community, which includes media, fans, players and organizations- from little league up to the major league. We need to demand it. And we need to do it now.