It Ends As It Was Always Going To

We said this is how it would end the day it started, because it’s how these things almost always go. And everyone’s going to see what they want in the ending of the Patrick Kane rape investigation, because we’re at that point. Some will see the crumbling of an extortion of a famous hockey player. Some will see an accuser bullied into silence by an uncaring police or the frothing masses protective of a hockey player they’ll never meet. Never the twain shall meet, which I suppose it part of the problem. At least there’s time there’s not a Shecky Greene of a Tallahassee prosecutor cracking jokes after saving the Noles’ QB’s ass.

As most logical minded have said, no matter where they side, we’ll never know what happened that night for sure. For some, that cloud of uncertainty provides enough shelter to go on about fandom in the normal way. “Hey, I don’t know for sure, so why should I have to give up this thing I love?” I don’t know that that’s evil or wrong, we’re all trying to figure this out and lord knows it’s hard enough to find things in this world that make you happy. Some will have that cloud of uncertainty still cause an ill feeling in the stomach when watching the Hawks and/or Kane, which is still where I am. “How can I commit fully when I don’t know for sure?”

Obviously, I know there are plenty feeling like they won something today and gloating, as if this was just another contest for Kane and the Hawks to take on and conquer. That’s not what these things are, but it’s how they are treated.

I feel like we all lost. Because what happened here, whatever actually happened, that moved us forward? Why would any woman watching this, or Jameis Winston or whatever other case, who ends up being the next victim to whatever famous athlete in whatever place feel any more confidence that she won’t have her life doubly ruined by the reaction to her search for justice? Why would any young athlete now, dreaming of stardom, feel there will be any consequences for their actions more than they did back in July? It feels like yet another opportunity lost, to be tossed on the discard pile on top of the hundreds or thousands before.

For me, it eventually became not about guilt or innocence but how it was handled by fans and organization. Whether you think Kane should have been with the team or not, you would have to understand how announcing a bobblehead night for him or featuring him on the Twitter feed or whatever else went on looked like spiking the football in the face of those who were concerned. It was unnecessary, if having Kane here was necessary. What was the end goal? To tell everyone everything’s normal? It wasn’t, though it will be soon as this is erased by the passage of time.

Looking back, I don’t know why I thought the Hawks were any better than any other team in any other sport. I’ve spent seven years calling them out on their bullshit, why would this be different? Seriously, the next original idea John McDonough and Jay Blunk have will be the first. Maybe it was just hope. But they’re no worse than any other organization either. One need look no further than their opponent last night or their division rival in Nashville or anywhere else. This is what we sign up for by becoming fans of any sport. And perhaps it’s silly to think that sports can be a paragon of virtue and progressive thinking, when our institutions that are supposed to behave like that, government and universities, can’t even fucking manage it. It’s certainly a borked way to look at the world. And we know that it won’t matter a jot. Not one less ticket or merchandise sold.

Same goes for Hawks fans. While we might dismiss the ones who did threaten various reporters here and in Buffalo or polluted our Twitter feeds as the “lunatic fringe,” they bring us all down from the inside. It’s the same as those, though in varying degrees, who show up in headdresses to the United Center. Maybe our name is a part of that too, and maybe I need to look at that again. But I refuse to believe that the proper reaction to all of this is throw my hands up and just say, “That’s just the way it is.” (Insert Bruce Hornsby joke here) Even those who have disagreed with me have to agree there can’t be a place for those anywhere here. But it’s no different than you’d find in any other fanbase, and I know because I’ve heard it from Kings and Predators fans recently. Still, isn’t in humorous and simultaneously unsettling that there is far more vitriol amongst Hawks fans for Bryan Bickell, who saves dogs in his spare time, than there is for Kane?

The words of Claire Austin continue to ring in my ears (@Puckologist) (at least I was sure it was here but now can’t find it so apologies if it wasn’t). When Patrick Kane skated out at Notre Dame, he got the loudest ovation because he was accused of rape. That’s just… fucked up. There isn’t a better term for it. And tomorrow night, now that this is all coming to an end, he’ll be cheered even louder because he wasn’t charged with rape, which seems some pretty baseline shit doesn’t it? It’s not about his guilt or innocence, but how this is treated by sports and their fans overall.

I know I wish I’d handled some thing differently. I know I should have taken the long view at times. I know I lashed out when I was being lashed out at by people who aren’t worth the time. That only poisons the atmosphere, which is the problem in the first fucking place. That doesn’t mean I think I was wrong, I just wrote from too emotional a place or reacted in that way. It’s a very personal subject for me, for reasons I’m not going to explain.

I know I’m getting pretty tired of being angry. I know that’s a pretty shitty way to go through life. I know I still watch the Hawks and feel just a little off. I know I’d like to find a way to appreciate Kane simply for his hockey skills, which we might not see again, without somehow endorsing a destructive way of life. I’d like to be a fan again. I don’t know if it’s possible. God knows a lot of the artists and athletes I’ve followed are shitty people. I name everything I can after Guns n’ Roses and Axl Rose is a misogynist, woman-beating douchebag, for example. The list could go on forever I guess. But does that mean it has to go on forever into the future too?

While this chapter closes, the story isn’t over. There are issues that came into focus here that we’re still going to discuss, like the place of women in hockey, sexism, rape culture, all of it. It’s important, and putting our heads in the sand… it’s too easy. That’s how we end up here to begin with, trying to pretend that something doesn’t have anything to do with us. We can still do this job while not being the fans we were, while feeling something within us broke and waiting to see if it can be in any way repaired. At least I think so. There’s a balance to be struck I’m sure.

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