“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”George Santayana
On March 13, 2006, there was an alleged incident at a house in North Carolina involving a stripper and members of the Duke lacrosse team. Whether the allegations were true or not doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things because an incident occurred that night and it changed the landscape of lacrosse for players across the nation for years to come. The deepest wounds were cut into the Duke lacrosse team and the players who were accused of sexual assault before a nation of prying eyes, but the image of lacrosse players for an entire generation changed overnight. This event and the spiraling fallout that came after the accusations are memorable for how they brought so much negative attention to lacrosse before becoming a lost tale amidst the flood of information we now live in. But for lacrosse players who are unfamiliar with the Duke Lacrosse Scandal, there are lessons that every lacrosse player should learn and remember.
Why to Remember the Duke Lacrosse Scandal
Playing lacrosse, or being involved in any extracurricular activity, is a privilege that not all are afforded. Being a part of a group that works to achieve a goal can be a wonderful thing; but, when you achieve more, you have more to lose. The 2006 Duke lacrosse team lost their entire season because of the actions of some players, and most lacrosse players would kill to just to play in one practice for a Division I lacrosse team. While this event could have been a massive exaggeration of the truth that was blown way out of proportion, lacrosse players were involved in something that they probably shouldn’t have been doing. The facts matter in a court of law, but the story alone is enough to destroy years of work in an instant.
College and high school are both times when peer pressure and the the desire to be involved in social gatherings can be at an all-time high. These times can difficult to navigate for young and impressionable players, but a strong set of morals and values can save well-meaning players from falling into a regrettable situation that ruins their athletic career. To help young lacrosse players recognize the possible dangerous moments that could hurt their reputations, we’re looking at the Duke lacrosse scandal as a learning opportunity for lacrosse players in general. Some guidelines on how to traverse the time you spend on a college or high school lacrosse team are discussed below. Giving them a quick read can help you realize when you’re approaching or involved in a potentially damaging situation.
The Seal Is Always On You
This lesson is a universal message for players that can be said in several different ways. You may have heard it said as “Act like your Grandma, Coach, Mother, etc. is always watching you,” but the application is the same in principle. Your actions represent more than just yourself, and the program that you’re playing for will also suffer the benefits and consequences of your actions. While your jerseys, team hoodies, and other apparel have your team’s seal on them, you should act as if you’re always displaying your team’s logo because the news will always go back to your team.
Side tip; if you’re every going to involve yourself in any social activities that aren’t exactly the most dignified, don’t wear your team’s gear. Try your very best to not bring negative attention to your program and not involve yourself in something illegal that could take away the chance to play lacrosse from you and others.
Guilt By Association
This is a lesson that involves athletic eligibility, reputation, and potential prosecution for crimes, and athletes need to know that presence without participation is still going to hurt you. Even simply being a known, or assumed, associate of someone who is accused, not even guilty, of something can seriously take a toll on your life. The players on the Duke lacrosse team who weren’t even at the house the night of the incident were still not allowed to play college lacrosse during the 2006 season.
While the NCAA did grant an extra year of eligibility to the students because the allegations were not found to be true, obviously not all students were able to take advantage of this and attend school for another Spring semester. And, even with no conviction or solidified accusation against the players of the Duke lacrosse team, the reputation of lacrosse players on that team and others took a serious hit during and after the scandal. Just by being associated with lacrosse, especially Duke lacrosse, put a stigma on players around that time because the incident was so polarizing.
When a devastating event occurs, the damage lingers after the initial destruction. A split second decision or action can create years of harm for yourself and people coming after you. It can be difficult to think forward and try to understand how your actions will affect future events, but being insightful and taking the time to weigh your options before deciding what to do can make all the difference. And, the worst part about not carefully weighing your decisions is that you’re often hurting someone else in the process without realizing it. Just like the Duke lacrosse scandal, your Coach could be held responsible for your actions that they aren’t aware of or condoning.
A Rising Tide Raises All Ships
Being the voice of reason can go a very long way, and speaking up when you feel like something is going wrong can stop something terrible from happening before it’s too late. When you’re a part of a group that might be heading down the wrong path, it can only take one person to change the direction of the group. If you’re worried about losing the respect of the group or ruining their fun, then you need to realize that you’re in a group that you probably shouldn’t be a part of.
If It Looks Like A Duck, Smells Like A Duck, and Quacks Like A Duck; It’s A Duck
The best way to prevent a bad situation is to be able to recognize when you’re approaching one. Being able to catch yourself before falling into a destructive decision can save yourself from a lifetime of regret. And, if you have to question whether something is a bad idea or not; it’s probably a bad idea. It can be difficult to take yourself out of the moment to realize the error of your ways, but the foresight to prevent yourself from actually going through with something that could ruin your life is the most valuable asset you could have.
Remember the Past
Learning from the mistakes of others is less painful than learning from your own mistakes, but the lessons are just as important and useful. With the ability to look back at what has happened in the past so that you can make the most informed decisions is exactly what history is for. If we couldn’t really learn from history, there would be no point in recording it or writing. But, we do record history and write, so take advantage of the information that’s available to you today like the unfortunate circumstances of the Duke lacrosse scandal.