In sports, boys need to be men

The Boston University men’s hockey team, among the most successful college sports programs in the country, is reeling after the dismissal of two stars who were arrested and charged with sexual assault.

It is the latest in a troubling trend for the BU hockey team, whose players are treated like kings and according to some on campus exhibit some of the same entitled behaviors. But it’s taken a non-sports – and female – columnist to point out the “boys will be boys” attitude isn’t playing well in this day and age.

The Globe’s Joan Vennochi today turns the spotlight on BU and its legendary coach Jack Parker after the arraignment in Boston Municipal Court Tuesday of star defenseman and pro prospect Max Nicastro, who pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault. Vennochi says, tied in with the December arrest of then-teammate and leading scorer Corey Trivino on charges of assault and battery and assault with intent to rape after he allegedly broke into a woman’s dorm room, Parker has more on his hands than a “horrible coincidence,” as he said in the aftermath of Nicastro’s arrest.

Vennochi points out that Trivino and another hockey player made a rap video called “Party like a puck star” that featured derogatory names for women and boasts of sexual conquests. BU’s student newspaper, The Daily Free Press, ran a story following Trivino’s arrest reporting that some residents of a dorm said some hockey players in the building routinely behaved in an inappropriate and threatening manner toward women residents.

“How much circumstantial evidence does this coach need?” Vennochi asks.

It’s not Vennochi’s first foray into the male sports world’s diminutions of women. Last fall, she scolded the Patriots for “walking away from Myra Kraft’s legacy” by trading for Albert Haynseworth, who was awaiting trial of sexual assault of a waitress in Washington.

Vennochi was referring to the late team matron’s influence in 1996 of releasing then-high draft pick Christian Peter, who had a history of sexual assault charges when he was a player at University of Nebraska. At the time, the issue was the focus of another female Globe columnist, Eileen McNamara, and the questions she raised led Myra Kraft to insist the team cut ties with Peter.

It also brings to mind the role the Globe’s Bella English had in cleaning up Fenway Park more than 20 years ago. Fenway, especially the bleachers, was not the place for the faint of heart. Regular fights, vicious taunting of other team’s players, including one who had Tourette syndrome, and racial slurs were routine fare from the Bleacher Creatures.

But no one did much until English wrote about the popular new drunken game of Fondle the Doll, where, when the fans would get bored, an anatomically correct inflatable woman was blown up and punched around like a beach ball and fans made lewd comments and simulated sex acts while being cheered on.

“Call it Perverts on Parade,” English wrote at the time.

Eventually, Fenway was cleaned up and made more family friendly, with limits on alcohol purchases and more security in the stands, mainly because of English.

Perhaps the lesson is, when it comes to sports in Boston, boys will be boys. But keep in mind, the women are watching.

                                                                                                                    –JACK SULLIVAN


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