I’ll go on the record and say that the Red & Black, the student newspaper of the University of Georgia, is not the first place I choose to go for unbiased, factual, hard-nosed reporting. Quite frankly I’ve found a few of their articles to be a bit hasty in nature, often written without much attention to detail or investigative reporting. In short, they tend to tick off a fair number of Georgia football fans with articles that appear to be anti-Georgia and their latest offering—in regards to Sanders Commings’ two-game suspension—will be greeted with an equal measure of disdain, I’m sure:
…I am a Georgia football fan and would love to see a winning season in 2012, but it should not come at the cost of downplaying the seriousness that is violence against women.
Using Commings as an example, Richt has effectively told the rest of his players that not only is beating a woman OK if you don’t get caught, but even if you do, you’ll only sit two games. Not only is this particular punishment shamefully light, but the fact that Richt has taken other arrests more seriously in the past again speaks to his devaluation of this crime.
…Good to know that beating a woman is worse than illegal drugs but not as bad as carrying a fake ID, underage consumption of alcohol or stealing.
I think Mark Richt needs to take a good, hard look at the “code of conduct” and “team rules” he sets for his players. What he says and does speak volumes about his priorities as a coach.
After the fall suspension of the three running backs, Richt said he thought punishment of players had to be “… something that will sting, something that will make somebody think twice about doing something or other guys who are watching, make them think twice” [“Mark Richt blasts accusation that UGA selectively suspended running backs,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nov. 2, 2011].
But if that is what Richt really feels, he certainly dropped the ball on Commings’ account.
Here’s the problem. I can understand where Ms. Marshall, the author of the article, is coming from given the information we’ve been made privy to regarding Commings’ situation. And from an outside point of view, the punishment doesn’t appear to fit the crime (I’ll even admit that my initial response was to throw him to the wolves and not look back. As a woman who has both witnessed and counseled women who have been abused, this subject hits home for me in a way that other crimes don’t). However, I also understand the dangers of rushing to judgment without knowing the extent of the circumstances surrounding a particular situation.
To this point the investigation into Commings’ altercation with his girlfriend continues to be ongoing and none of us, no matter what we might believe or have read, is able to clearly place any assumptions on what happened that night until all the facts have been made available. That said, any rushes to judgment are likely to be met with a certain degree of vitriol—as Ms. Marshall unfortunately had to find out (the comment section after her post is not pretty to say the least. Even still, you have to give her credit for taking a stand even if you don’t agree with what she had to say. She had to know she was taking a risk by writing that piece).
On a personal level, I feel that if it comes to light that Commings did what was alleged at the start, he should not be allowed to remain on the team. I’m all for second-chances but physical abuse against women, children, or the elderly is where I draw the line. There simply is no gray area there for me.
For now, though, I am willing to allow the justice system to do it’s job before I fully condemn Richt, or the University of Georgia for “dropping the ball”.