Football, says Brenda Tracy, might be the best weapon against sexual assault. The key is getting the good guys to take control of the culture, not just within the program, but on campus.
For Tracy, a sexual assault survivor who has forged a life as a victim advocate and lobbyist, a “good guy” is one who would never think about raping someone — and there are a lot more good guys, she insists, than bad guys.
“When I go into a presentation, I don’t go to talk to the kids who might do this, I’m talking to the kids I know are good,” Tracy said in a phone interview this week. “They’re the answer. They need to be the police force, so to speak: If you see something, say something. When there’s locker room talk, shut it down. They need to be role models and leaders.”
Tracy, 43, learned of the sexual assault scandal on the University of Minnesota’s football team like most, when the entire team, in a united front, threatened to boycott last month’s Holiday Bowl until 10 teammates suspended for their roles in an alleged assault off campus were reinstated to the team.
For Tracy, who in 2014 first shared her account of being raped by four men at an off-campus party at Oregon State in 1998, the message was clear.
“The feeling was that they were supporting sexual assault, basically,” she said. “It was a horrible feeling.”
Two of Tracy’s attackers were football players at Oregon State, which coincidentally was the team Minnesota beat on the night of a Sept. 2 incident that resulted in the Dec. 13 suspension of 10 Gophers football players upon completion of an investigation by the U’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
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