Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

An Open Letter to College Football

College football's rape and domestic violence problem has reached a critical mass. Women on campus have lost the ability to count on administrators and campus officials to protect them. This simply cannot happen in modern society and those with the ability to speak up have a responsibility to do so.

To Whom It May Concern:

Over the past several years it has become increasingly difficult to reconcile my passion for collegiate athletics with repeated acts of willful ignorance that have allowed the worst kind of humanity to thrive under their umbrella. Once more, journalists across the nation were forced to digest unpalatable page after page after page of administrators and coaches eagerly neglecting their duties to uphold university mission statements and, above all else, carry out a program capable of winning without consistently violating basic human rights.

Add to this the fact that many of these administrators sat in the same room as these victims, tears likely streaming down their face as they recounted what had to be the worst event of their lives, then walked out of the room to make phone calls that would assist in the burying of details and suppression of justice, and it is enough to make your blood boil. It certainly does nothing to bolster the idea that this is something we should be celebrating as a society. Sadly, however, Baylor is far from the only program to place winning above all else. They are simply the worst offender of which the public is aware, and therein lies the problem. 

The simple truth about rape, domestic violence, and how these issues are handled by those in charge of a multi-million dollar football program is that we do not know how deep this problem runs. To a certain degree, it's almost understandable how we reached this point -- Almost, but not quite. As you read through the Findings of Fact by the investigatory group, a theme of malicious apathy jumps right off the page. These women followed all of the proper procedures and they were denied justice at every turn. What more is a person supposed to do when the people who are supposed to protect them end up turning on them instead? 

As if the entire process wasn't humiliating enough, these women turned helplessly to a system whose mission statement read like a dream, but was carried out like a night terror. Only these women may never wake up from the pain and suffering that haunts them day in and day out. The fact that these cowards sat in a room with them, sworn to protect them, and failed them at every conceivable level isn't just unconscionable, it is unforgivable. This wasn't a mistake, it was a calculated act of terror with wanton disregard for human life. 

The very thought of what must have gone through their heads when these women realized just how much more football mattered than their very existence is enough to bring tears to my eyes as I write these words. I've lived through the pain of two women trying to escape an awful predator and those two women were my mother and my grandmother. That horrible monster was my grandfather. 

Boliver, that son of a bitch used to call me. It was his nickname for me whenever he got to see me, which thankfully wasn't that often. Wrapping his arms around me with that proud smile, he spent his life hiding the fact that he had beaten my grandmother deaf in her left ear and had sexually assaulted my mother so many times as a child that it left her broken and unable to take care of me when she had a teenage pregnancy with a man who still denies he is my father even after a court-ordered DNA test proved otherwise. In many ways, that man's actions had a catastrophic effect on my life before I was ever even conceived. 

A high-ranking military officer during the Kennedy and Johnson administration, my grandfather carried out his acts of abuse and terror without fear of reprisal. Most people knew what was going on, I'm told, but it was a "man's world" back then and "people thought differently back then." At least that's what I was told to believe, but the truth is that people still think that way today and not a damn thing has changed with regard to it being a man's world. 

If Baylor has taught me anything, it's that the problem had never gone away, society had just grown immune to its effects. In order for action to be taken, critical failure must occur. The fact that these firings may serve as a launching pad for more women to come forward is encouraging and terrifying all in the same breath. How many women will now come forward only because Art Briles is no longer there? How many women will still stay silent because Phil Bennett remains? More importantly, how many women across the country will read a report like this and believe in their heart that their school would do the same such that it causes them to not report an incident?

This is something that society simply cannot allow to be the case. As human beings, we owe these women more than a 140 character tweet or a promise to "do better." They deserve action, they deserve integrity, and they deserve to know that there are people out there ready to listen if the administrators are not. I cannot solve the world's problems and I cannot solve this problem on my own, but I can be part of a solution and not a silent majority. 

I promise that I am here for anyone who has ever turned to an administrator or teacher only to be told that they will handle the problem internally. I promise that I will listen when others will not. I promise that I will make sure I would happily undergo physical harm before allowing important details about your name, gender, religion, or sexual preference to be trotted through the media as a means to discredit your life. I promise that I will treat you as a human being. 

My name is Josh Webb and I am sick and tired of seeing people abandon their obligation to report, investigate, and find the truth about these allegations. If you are feeling like you have no place to turn, nobody you can trust, or simply just need someone to listen, I am here for you. In addition to whatever I can do, I also promise to make sure that I will help you find trusted individuals who can provide answers, services, and proper counseling that I am not qualified to give. But more than anything on this earth, I promise to follow through and be persistent.  

I can also promise that I will not stop until college athletics does better. 

Josh Webb


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