Editorial: Athletes Need to be Held Accountable

Graphic Nadine Abdellatif

When the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes men’s hockey team took to the ice at home against the Concordia Stingers on Nov. 11, their opponents hurled insults towards the bench—deservedly so, following the controversy surrounding the Patriotes. The comments were not solely because of what one player did to gather this unwanted attention. Rather, such comments were triggered when a teammate was permitted to play days after his initial suspension.

On Nov. 7, TVA Nouvelles released a report indicating that one of the UQTR hockey players had created an Instagram account rating women on a scale of one to ten. Each post also provided personal information about the women, such as date of birth and cultural background accompanied by details of intimate relations the creator had with some of these women. The account actively posted content from Aug. 22 to Oct. 30. 

UQTR was notified about the account first. In response, the player was prohibited from playing with the team. The university proceeded to enact measures that would protect victims from coming into contact with the perpetrator—a decision made and assured to be in the best interest of the students. This is yet another occasion where a higher education institution pats itself on the back for implementing a Band-Aid solution for sexual misconduct—only for them to revoke the suspension when the Patriotes started losing. 

The story’s hearsay component is common knowledge, yet is unspoken throughout the league and media attention alike. This being said, as it currently stands, that player is active on the roster of the UQTR team. A failure on the part of the faculty at UQTR. The inexcusable offences that have presented themselves within the game of hockey, specifically from the men inside the game, are deplorable. This situation further promotes the idea that athletes should receive far more education on how to be a decent person, because what may seem obvious to most people is clearly nonsensical to this individual. 

Furthermore, UQTR has neglected to take proper precautions to protect the victims of this incident. Stating that measures to prevent victims and the perpetrator coming into contact with each other have been enacted is not enough.This hockey player may still have his image plastered on many UQTR posters and social media platforms. His name still is adored and celebrated in each article it appears in. The point is, he is not invisible. His identity may be concealed but for those involved, he still is a constant reminder of the trauma they faced.    

This incident is an example of a university coveting the prowess from a defending national championship title over the protection and support of those who were affected by this player’s actions. The promotion of the idea that if a player contributes to a winning team, they become untouchable, is a scary truth exercised regularly by higher education. His punishment is a mere slap on the wrist in comparison to what should have transpired. 

This line of reasoning is immoral. High-profile athletes cannot be put on a pedestal for their elite play and admired for how well they showcased this talent on the ice when they have acted so reprehensibly. The player did something wrong. As punishment, he does not deserve to play.

This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 7, published November 22, 2022.