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Examining Jessica Luther’s New Book “Unsportsmanlike Conduct”

Jessica Luther (photo via Twitter)

Readers may know me as the fun loving, sports writer but today; I need to talk about a serious topic in the sports world: the intersection of sports and sexual violence.

Last week, I attended an event at a local bookstore that featured Jessica Luther discussing her new book. Luther wrote a book rightfully named “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” in which she documents the relationship between college football and rape in a playbook-type format. She uncovers all the standard ways that colleges, sports programs, the NCAA, and sports media respond to accusations on campuses involving student athletes. What makes this book spectacular is that every claim she makes is immediately followed with the facts, data, and research. The book took her over two years to put together and she finishes the book with nearly 23 pages of sources. The facts don’t lie and neither does Jessica Luther.

What I found very interesting about the book is that it doesn’t just point the finger at the athletes or the school, but heavily on the media. The author points out that sports journalists tend to only think about the athlete and not the victim, as if only one person was involved. It’s what they’re used to. Fans get so angry that this info is distracting from playoffs or the rival game, yet they aren’t angry about the actual event that happened. Part of that is because of the media and what they put out there. The media, she suggests, should write imagining the victim will read it.

At the event, she offered some suggestions to universities and the media alike.

One: Write with balance. Don’t make the story one sided by focusing just on the athlete.

Two: Teach what consent means early on, and reinforce it as a person grows up. You’re never too young or too old to learn about consent.

Three: Hire more women. Picture how the landscape would change if there were twelve women in a locker room instead of just one. How reporting on rape cases involving athletes would be more balanced.

Luther’s book can be found in your bookstore and also possibly in an upcoming episode of Fox’s new hit show, “Pitch”. Pitch tells the tale of Ginny Baker, the first female in Major League Baseball. After Episode 2, producers placed a copy of “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” on Ginny’s coffee table as she tackles first hand the unfair sexual connotation that comes with being a woman in sports. Ginny appears on “Jimmy Kimmel” in the episode and says, “We don’t need to make sure every girl goes in the right room; we need to make sure every boy knows it’s wrong to rape.” Which is possibly the coolest thing someone could say on television.

As a woman trying to enter the industry myself, I want to make a change. So pick up a copy of “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” and sit down and watch “Pitch”. As Jessica Luther signed my copy, “Thank you for reading and caring about this issue.”

You can (and should) follow her on Twitter twitter-logo-transparent-small @scATX

And if you want a copy of the book, visit any of these online retailers:

akashicbooks.com

bookpeople.com

… and as always, amazon.com

2 Comments

  1. Tj

    October 5, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Why is there never a mention on the percentage of women who have lied about being raped like the lady who lied on Mr. Banks which effectively ended his career and any chance of the life he worked so hard to achieve? Keep it 100, the woman sees a man about to cash in and if her advances are not taking exactly how she wants them to be taken she cries rape

    • cornerpubsports

      October 5, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      Usually because the number of claims that end up being falsified are significantly smaller than the number of rapes committed that go unreported.

      Look if you want to make the point that there’s a case to be made the other way, that’s fine, but it’s also not the issue that’s being addressed.

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