Sometimes traditions need to die and today the Harvard Men’s Soccer team saw that happen. The Ivy League university canceled the remainder of their 2016 men’s soccer season following an investigation into reports of an annual team custom of ranking members of the women’s soccer team based on their physical attributes. As you can imagine these rankings were horribly offensive, sexist and lewd.
This custom, known as the “scouting report” was brought to light by the school’s newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, after they uncovered an email from 2012. From The Crimson:
“In what appears to have been a yearly team tradition… The author and his teammates referred to the nine-page document as a “scouting report,” and the author circulated the document over the group’s email list on July 31, 2012. In lewd terms, the author of the report individually evaluated each female recruit, assigning them numerical scores and writing paragraph-long assessments of the women. The document also included photographs of each woman, most of which, the author wrote, were culled from Facebook or the Internet…The author of the “report” often included sexually explicit descriptions of the women. He wrote of one woman that “she looks like the kind of girl who both likes to dominate, and likes to be dominated.”
“I was deeply distressed to learn that the appalling actions of the 2012 men’s soccer team were not isolated to one year or the actions of a few individuals,” Harvard President Drew Faust said in a prepared statement. “The decision to cancel a season is serious and consequential, and reflects Harvard’s view that both the team’s behavior and the failure to be forthcoming when initially questioned are completely unacceptable, have no place at Harvard, and run counter to the mutual respect that is a core value of our community.”
This scandal especially hits home amidst the recent backdrop of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign as his defamation of women has been written off by many as acceptable “locker room talk” which all men do. Some of the women that were named in the 2012 email have decided not to stay silent and have made statements to The Crimson. Kelsey Clayman, Brooke Dickens, Alika Keene, Emily Mosbacher, Lauren Varela and Haley Washburn said they were very hurt but not surprised by some of their close friends speaking in this manner about them. “The sad reality is that we have come to expect this kind of behavior from so many men, that it is so ‘normal’ to us we often decide it is not worth our time or effort to dwell on,” they wrote.
“In all, we do not pity ourselves, nor do we ache most because of the personal nature of this attack. More than anything, we are frustrated that this is a reality that all women have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives. We feel hopeless because men who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this.”