Jock Culture Coming To Buffalo

Jack Eichel

Jack Eichel

This isn’t going to be a column that really has any answers.  With that out of the way, I was in Boston a weekend ago to watch the 2015 commencement for Boston University.  My sister, who was graduating, had an interesting comment during a conversation about the Sabres’ prospective draft pick Jack Eichel.  Well, first she talked about how he looked like a little kid and how adorable he was.  But then she expressed how good it was going to be for him to get away from the Boston University hockey team.  She meant specifically how it would benefit him as a person to be away from that culture, to get out after one year.  This wasn’t something that would have crossed my mind.

For a little perspective, remember when two BU hockey players departed both the team and the school in 2012 amid sexual assault and rape charges? Some shocking stuff came out of the fallout.  The culture of the team was exposed as one of extraordinary sexual entitlement among team members.  Details of a party/orgy in Agganis Arena in 2009 included shooting pucks naked and players having sex in the penalty box.  During the 2012 investigation, BU hockey coach Jack Parker was criticized for not having passed on to school officials what he knew of some of the ongoing conduct.  On a positive note, he told investigators that he had specifically advised players to avoid group sex.  So there’s that.  Speaking of group sex, Buffalo Bills draft pick Ronald Darby was one room over when Jameis Winston was having sex with the woman who later accused him of rape.  The third player present, Chris Casher, admitted to being in the bedroom on and off during the incident, saying he went in “to try to have sex with her as well.”  So there’s that also.

Karlos Williams with girlfriend Miranda Wilhelm, who posted pictures of herself with bruises on Instagram last fall and strongly implicated Williams.  Charges were not filed after Wilhelm asked police to stop investigating.

Karlos Williams with girlfriend Miranda Wilhelm, who posted pictures of herself with bruises on Instagram last fall and strongly implicated Williams.  Charges were not filed after Wilhelm asked police to stop investigating.

With Darby being so close to the Winston incident and 5th rounder Karlos Williams having been investigated for domestic battery, not to mention Ray Rice and everything else that went on in the NFL this past year, I suppose athletes’ treatment of women has been on my mind.  Like I said at the beginning, this isn’t a column with much in the way of answers, but in the case of BU, their answer was to fine-tune their student conduct policy and make athletes attend sexual assault prevention training.  As someone who has attended this kind of seminar as a student athlete, I don’t know if this will necessarily make an entitled jock see that women are people too, but at least they’ll have a good idea of what is and isn’t legal.  It is worth noting that the men's hockey culture at BU continues to have accounts of unwanted advances by players and even more pervasive accounts of enthusiastic advances by sometimes intoxicated young women.  My sister told me that a friend saw two young women proposition Jack Eichel for a threesome at a college party.

The good news is that Eichel’s behavior is not in question.  There is no indication of any illegal activity by the young star (aside from the usual college underage drinking) and the Bills’ investigators feel comfortable about their draft picks’ conduct.  There is the old adage that “absolute power corrupts absolutely” and it seems that what celebrity does to people is often similar.  I suppose humanity could suddenly stop putting athletes on a pedestal.  A sports site is probably the wrong place to say this, but sometimes both athletes and fans need to remember that it’s just a game.  Good talk.