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The Third Degree: Professional sports leagues must do more about sexual assault

Former MLB Pitcher and Cy Young award winner Trevor Bauer recently appeared on the “This past weekend w/ Theo Von” podcast, where he made the bold statement that he would play for any team at the league's minimum contract. 

In 2021, a year after Bauer won the Cy Young Award, the right-handed pitcher was suspended for violating the league's sexual assault policy. Bauer has since served the full length of his 194-game suspension; however, the former Reds and Dodgers pitcher is not on an MLB roster — and he shouldn’t be. 

The way that the MLB owners have handled the Bauer situation sets a healthy precedent that will hopefully soon be the norm for all professional sports leagues.

While the MLB’s handling of Bauer has been a step in the right direction, it is an unprecedented and unfortunately surprising change of pace for baseball fans. In the past, if a player was accused of sexual or physical assault, a suspension would be given, and at its conclusion, everyone would move on like nothing had happened. 

Players like Aroldis Chapman and Domingo Herman are both on MLB rosters to this day despite being accused of domestic violence early in their careers. 

Nearly every major sports league has had athletes accused of sexual assault, but what each league decided to do about it is vastly different. Some leagues, like the NFL, have shown particular negligence in handling such allegations toward its players. 

Professional athletes are primary candidates for many young children to idolize. When these athletes are accused of sexual or physical assault, and the governing bodies of their league do little to nothing as punishment, young people continue to idolize them. 

Players like Deshaun Watson, Ben Roethlisberger, Adam Jones and Adrian Peterson are all treated like gods by the fan bases of their respective former teams. Those fans are quick to forget that each was accused of assaulting women. 

Roethlisberger was paraded around the city of Pittsburgh to the enthusiasm and appreciation of millions when he retired. The former Steelers quarterback was accused of sexual assault twice in his career and proceeded to become one of the most idolized figures for young fans of the Steelers. 

Roethlisberger served only two separate 4-game suspensions following his two alleged assaults. 

Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher even went as far as to state that “He (Rothelisberger) truly represents what a Pittsburgh Steeler is,” following his retirement. 

Deshaun Watson is another example of this — he received a $250 million contract just a few short months after facing 24 accusations of sexual assault. Watson faced only an 11-game suspension. 

The NFL recently revised its sexual assault policy stating that a player who violates the league's policy regarding sexual assault more than once will be automatically banned

If this clause had been added from the start, players like Roethlisberger never would have been given a platform following his second alleged sexual assault back in 2010. 

While policy changes are a step in the right direction, players like Watson, Chapman and German still walk out onto a field every day and are glorified by the people in attendance. 

The MLB’s treatment of the Bauer situation, though it has faced criticism from some fans, should be the way all leagues handle sexual and physical abuse. 

It’s time to stop glorifying horrible humans because they can play sports.

Robert is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views expressed in this column do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Robert? Tweet him @robertkeegan_.

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