Should Ched Evans be allowed to carry on his career in football?
Debate Rounds (3)
Already, examples of the negative influence he has had have appeared, such as people using the term "I'd ched evans her" on social networking platforms. There are people out there who are easily impressionable, particularly young children, and Ched Evans is not a good role model for them to idolise. While most of you will think, "What idiot would watch a footballer and suddenly think "I want to be a rapist."?", this is actually a frequent occurrence. For example, in 1993, two 11 year old boys killed a 3 year old boy after watching Child's Play 3. We cannot undermine the influence of societal factors on children, and while they may not consciously realise it, there is a real risk that young males may unconsciously begin to justify awful acts such as rape.
Even now, many people are saying, "He's innocent, she's probably just crying wolf for the money." While this may be a possibility, we must understand that in the court of law, the defendant is only convicted guilty if the jury is 100% sure they are guilty. We have to trust that the law system has done their job accurately. In addition, what has the victim to gain from this? Would she purposely put herself through this ordeal, having to change her name 5 times and move houses, as well as receiving death threats from Ched Evan's fans?
I understand that some think it is unfair that Ched Evans shouldn't be able to carry on doing what he is good at after one bad mistake. But, this was part of his job. He knew that he would be going into a job where he would be under media limelight, and if he made a mistake, he wouldn't get a second chance.
There really are no excuses, he should not be in such a public position where he can easily influence the more impressionable amongst us.
Ched Evans, first and foremost, is not a 'role model'. He is not a beacon for good behaviour. He is not the person who society should point to and say, he is someone who's whole life you should model your behaviour on, there is a model of virtue. He is a human being. He has all the faults, the mix of good and bad, which that entails. You will find no sportsman who lives up to this fantasy 'role model' archetype. Life is messy - who, anywhere, is completely innocent and wholesome? So therefore, to present the wide spectrum of footballers, who are young, virile, and ridiculously wealthy for no other attribute than playing a game, and who generally will come from the lower strata of society, as moral exemplars is a fiction - only sustained through image management - and one which it is extremely unhealthy to perpetuate and support. The only example, by and large, which they may be held up to show is that through hard work and discipline kids might be able to become sports stars. Society demanded that Tiger Woods be a role model for virtue. And of course he played up to this image, until the reality was revealed. Likewise Armstrong. Sportsmen are not monks, they are fallible human beings, and it's time that we all faced up to that fact.
Of course, politicians, parents, the social media mob will say - it doesn't matter whether you say should not be role models - in our society, they are role models: they are the people that children imitate and look up to. I think this is again wrong. I don't know anyone of my peer group growing up who would model themselves on sports stars, and if they did, it was only to the extent that they were the ones who were disciplined and determined enough to succeed. This is all part of the culture of celebrity, this idea, and it shouldn't be perpetuated more than it exists already. The people who kids do look up to more, I believe, are the ones who they believe give them the truth - that is musicians, rappers. Why is this? Because these people speak to them personally, speak to their hearts, who give them some mirror of identity. Have you heard how anodyne and boring footballers are trained up to be? If you think that kids model their whole identity and moral compass on them, I think you're mistaken.
Furthermore, it is a cop-out for politicians, teachers, parents, to say - we'll give that card to the sportsmen, because we are so hopeless at providing a good environment for children to understand right and wrong in, we'll put it on Ched Evans. Make an example of him. This is an abdication of responsibility and they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. Perpetuating the sports stars are our role models fantasy only allows them to do this, rather than face the real problems and find solutions for them.
But it's not just children, it is even adults that people are so fearful will be suddenly overcome with the idea that rape is okay, and all the lads will be going out looking to, as you say, 'do a Ched Evans'. I submit that this is nonsense, a sort of 'fear of the great unruly masses' - these uncivilised gorillas who are all secretly racist and potential rapists. And so the only solution is that we need to keep 'sending them messages' about what behaviour is good and what is bad. And again, because we perceive that ordinary society has broken down, this is the only way we can send this message: through football. I think this is an incredibly patronizing and misguided perception and one which doesn't tally with how people really get their moral cues. I only have to ask, do you think people were inspired to drink and drive by Lee Hughes returning to football (following conviction for manslaughter through dangerous driving - far more serious in its consequences)? Or to go out a beat up someone in the street following Joey Barton's example? Of course not. These are shames which these men have to live with and, if anything, a person who has spent time in jail is someone who ordinary people can relate to as someone who has fallen down in life but been able to improve their behaviour and fit into society again. Isn't this a better moral lesson than the white-washed alternative?
In summary on the Public Life issue, I don't think footballers should be put in this light - it is only social campaigners, such as the anti-racist, anti-rape culture, anti-domestic violence, etc., these groups which want to use sports as a means to further their soicial agenda, which use these types of cases to whip up a storm, and put the stars in that unrealistic and artificial role.
If we accept this, that the notion of being a role-model, so putting sportsmen to a higher moral standard is a false one, Ched Evans should be treated like anyone else, i.e. normal standards of fairness. He has served his time in jail (granted on license), why shouldn't he be able to carry on with his career and give pleasure to the fans who would watch him play, to be useful to society?
Doubtless there are some crimes which are beyond the pale for a sports star to come back from. Cold-blooded murder? A seriously violent rape? He would have git many more years in jail for such crimes for one thing, but no doubt it would be curtains for a sports career. We will never know exactly what state of consciousness the girl was in at the time of the incident. It's drunken sex where the issue is consent - a notoriously tricky case, given that going out and getting drunk and having casual sex is a popular modern past-time in this country. Did he take advantage of her? Possibly, and he's already paid a high price for his actions, whether he was guilty in law or not (and we have to accept the verdict as it is).
The problem is though that in the current climate with the vociferous anti-rape new feminist lobby, and their dominance of the media debate, it's impossible to take a sensible view on the real severity of his actions. The agreed narrative says that rape is rape and it has dreadful consequences for the victim, and rape is one of the worst possible crimes, and therefore it is beyond the pale. Ched Evans is a convicted rapist, he is a footballer, therefore he must be held up as an example. And this view propels the social media mob, which in turn feeds the media, and so we have full blown hysteria, and mob justice rules the day. It is this climate which is preventing Ched Evans from returning to his career and it is wrong for justice to be meted out in this way. The test of our principles, such as rehabilitation, is in these difficult cases and people in authority should be standing up for this, even if it makes them unpopular in the short-term.
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