“I lost faith in humanity”

Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans - Credit: Logan Riely/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans – Credit: Logan Riely/Getty Images

According to Bankrate, the average cost of a NFL the ticket costs $457. Drinks and snacks could easily net you an extra $100. And there really is no limit to what you can spend on merchandising.

The payoff for these financial and emotional investments can come in waves of euphoria after the team wins at home. Your dedication and money can give you fond memories of game day tailgates and parties. Soccer can be linked to certain holidays for some, to traditions imbued with all the veneration of an ancient religion.

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But what does it cost to continue to have esteem for a player – or a team – mired in ugliness and controversy? What happens when there is a stark juxtaposition between love of the game and disgust for an individual’s actions?

Without being the first to do so, many Cleveland Browns fans have mastered the art of self-delusion when it comes to their new quarterback, Deshaun Watson. They willingly allowed themselves to be led into ignorance for the sake of the game.

Well, there was no conviction, so we can’t really know what happened.

I don’t praise the player, I praise the team!

Everyone deserves a second chance.

At first glance, comments like these may seem diplomatic, even wholesome.

But just below the surface lies a much darker truth: erasing evil fosters a world where those evils will multiply.

Willful ignorance of Browns fans disregarding Deshaun WatsonThe actions sow a cultural shift where one man is given the benefit of the doubt over dozens of women.

This is dangerous for many reasons.

Sue L. Robinson, a former United States District Judge who serves as disciplinary officer for the NFLhad previously pointed to the NFL’s finding that Watson was “using his status as an NFL player as a pretext to engage in a premeditated pattern of predatory behavior toward multiple women”, and found that the league had proven “Mr. Watson engaged in sexual assault (as defined by the NFL).”

So I ask, after his findings and the cooperation of Watson’s victims with NFL investigators and Houston police detectives, how is his career now restored after his tiny punishment?

Watson has maintained his position that he is innocent throughout this saga. So how can he find redemption when he hasn’t asked for forgiveness? The answer is simple: he cannot and does not deserve another chance.

He should not have been allowed to continue his career, but the precedent was set that talent trumps abuse.

When I was asked to witness Watson’s return to the field on December 4, I felt enraged. The continued humiliation, despair and anger of knowing that I lost my career because of him are my constant companions.

I didn’t just lose my livelihood; I also suffer from crippling social anxiety. If a stranger attacked me, how can I trust someone? I can’t.

How could I bear to see my abuser return to his life of glory – the same life that shrouded him in immunity for his actions?

I wake up every day wondering what I want out of this life, and I try to tell myself that I have value as a person. I’m looking for hope and reasons to survive. Many days I fall short of these basic comforts.

How can my life have any meaning when masses of people continue to support the return of a talented monster? To say I lost faith in humanity would be an understatement.

When do we stop separating the player from the sport?

It must be to the point where it harms others. Otherwise, we deliberately alter cultural expectations that dangerous men can live without consequences, and their victims should simply suffer and disappear.

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