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An Open Letter to the Baylor Football Coach Who Let Players Get Away With Rape


By Lauren Wigren

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Dear Mr. Briles,

Firstly, I cannot refer to you as “Coach Briles.” Not only because you were fired, but because frankly, you are not deserving of such a title anyway.

You see, Mr. Briles, the quality of your football team is certainly important; but students’ safety and quality of life should come before football. The character of your players, integrity, and justice all should come before football, whether you’re a coach, professor, parent or student.

I am angry, Mr. Briles. I am disgusted, disillusioned and frustrated, to say the least, but unfortunately, your cowardice and immorality do not surprise me.

As a college-aged woman in 2017, I came to the morose and frightening conclusion that athletics are more important than a woman’s well-being long ago. I realized it when Heisman Trophy winner and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was able to continue his thriving college (and later professional) football career without facing the slightest consequence from either the Tallahassee police department or Florida State University, even though he allegedly assaulted Erica Kinsman. In a cruelly ironic turn of events, it was Kinsman who faced hostility and eventually chose to leave Florida State.

I came to a similar conclusion when Brock Turner received a mere six-month sentence (of which he only served three months) for raping an unconscious woman, because, of course, he was a talented swimmer and it would be a real shame to ruin his life and reputation over “twenty minutes of action.” Turner’s “mistake” taught me that, as a woman, I should not drink at parties because if anything were to happen to me, it would be my fault, and certainly not worth ruining the reputation of such an honorable athlete.

I understand perfectly. The reputation of a college sports team or even of an individual collegiate athlete is more important than my rights and my safety. If all it takes is the silencing of a few rape allegations to make it to the championships, then why shouldn’t you have done it? If a woman drinks too much, wears revealing clothing, flirts, smiles, or agrees to host football recruits, isn’t she asking for it?

You said it yourself, Mr. Briles. Women should know better than to hang around with “bad dudes” like the players on your team.

I certainly hope you can read sarcasm, Mr. Briles.

The truth is, you, and every other coach, player, student, parent, etc. with a similar mindset to yours absolutely disgust me. I will not sit down idly with my mouth shut while one in three women has experienced sexual violence. I don’t care if your career would have suffered from these sexual assault allegations. I don’t care if the reputations of your players would have been tarnished, and I definitely don’t care if they would have been expelled or criminalized.

You see, the welfare of Baylor University’s football team was far from my top concern when the news of this scandal broke. My heart aches for Elizabeth Doe and anyone else who has suffered due to your negligence and your players’ sense of entitlement.

Despite what you may believe, Mr. Briles, a woman is not an object whose only purpose is to sexually gratify men who feel they are above everyone else. The women you tried to silence were actual people: human beings who wanted to feel safe, get an education, be a part of their school community and above all receive respect and basic human rights such as the right to say “no” to sex.

You and your players ought to be ashamed of yourselves. You valued winning and glory over the safety and quality of life of your fellow human beings. That is despicable. That is unforgivable. And until our society wakes up and realizes the sickening violence being perpetrated in the name of college sports, I’ll continue to call you and your type out on it.

A woman who’s fed up with coming second to another trophy

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