Dave Jamieson of Slate.com answers something I had been wondering about. I haven’t said a word about the Duke Lacrosse fiasco, mainly because I don’t think it’s a sports story. In the realm of sports, I wouldn’t give a fuck about Duke Lacrosse, no matter what they did or didn’t accomplish. A rape was alleged, something I’m very reluctant to comment on anyway, and I don’t think it becomes a sports story just because the guys involved hold sticks with nets on the end of them. That’s not a criticism of any other sports outlet that’s covering the story, but that’s just how I personally see it.
Anyway, completely unrelated to what’s going on in Durham… consensus seems to be that lacrosse players are the world’s biggest dickheads. I’ve only known three lacrosse players in my life, and they’re all decent enough guys (except for you, Jim). But from what I’ve seen people saying elsewhere, my experience is the minority. And here’s one explanation as to why:
More than any other sport, lacrosse represents the marriage of athletic aggression and upper-class entitlement. While a squash player might consider himself upper-crust, he can’t prove his superiority by checking you onto your ass the way a lacrosse defenseman can. And while lacrosse may share with football a love for contact, it is far more socioeconomically insulated than the grid game (except in odd places like Maryland, where it’s managed to cross class lines). Some aficionados take pride in the fact that their sport was invented by Native Americans, but I don’t imagine many members of the Onondaga Nation end up playing lax at Colgate.
Still, how could college lacrosse players be any more misogynous than your typical football-team steakhead? Perhaps it’s because, unlike their football brethren, an unusually large proportion of college lacrosse players spend their high school years in sheltered, all-boys academies before heading off to liberal co-ed colleges. Most guys from single-sex schools are able to adjust. Others join the lacrosse team. The worst of this lot become creatures that are, in the words of a friend of mine, “half William Kennedy Smith, half Lawrence Phillips.” In the warm enclave of the locker room, safe from the budding feminists and comp-lit majors, their identity becomes more cemented. How else to explain the report in a Duke school paper that, roughly two weeks after the alleged rape, members of the team were spotted drinking in a Durham bar, chanting, “Duke lacrosse!”
I don’t know if he’s right or not, but it sounds like a pretty sound theory.