If you are a fan of understatement then you could say today is not looking to be a good day for the Flyers' PR department. In case that you missed it Ian Laperriere said some dumb stuff that was published in an article about Flyers prospect Nick Cousins on Philly.com. The offending quote have since been removed, but fortunately a few people grabbed screenshots of what Laperriere said.
At the pro leve, teams expect you to be an adult and act like one. He's got a good heart... Let's be honest, stuff like that has been happening forever. You can't get away with anything now. He can't put himself in those situations."
If you are wondering what "those situations" refer to, it is a rape case. Cousins hasn't been convicted, but the case and investigation is ongoing. Laperriere's apparently dismissive and cavalier comments seem pretty bad, but article author Frank Seravalli echoes that by referring to the rape accusations as an "embarrassing situation" for Cousins, his junior team, and the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Yes, it is just terrible that we live in a day and age where rape is allowed to inconvenience athletes and professional sports organizations.
My first thought was that maybe Laperriere was misquoted or possibly wasn't clear with his word choice. The prolific and wonderful folks over at Broad Street Hockey were able to get a few quotes from the former Flyer in hopes of clarifying what was said in the Philly.com article:
I would never say that rape happens all the time and that you can get away with it.
What I meant was kids putting themselves in wrong position, a vulnerable position.
Oh, ok. That's ok then. No, wait... how is that any better? I can't imagine anyone would admit that rape happens all the time and that its something that can be swept under the rug. The second quote just makes things worse. Being under investigation for sexual assault is certainly a wrong and vulnerable position, but it seems to me that that is further understatement. The innocence or guilt of Cousins is almost secondary to the casual way with which Seravalli and Laperriere approached the topic.
Sexual assault amongst young athletes continues to be a serious issue and student and junior athletes are not getting the right message when the worst response the media and pro teams can muster is "embarrassing." The Philly.com article and Laperriere's quotes show the fact that much of sports culture has not changed enough. It is possible to be supportive of guys like Cousins without underplaying the severity of his alleged actions. For all we know Cousins is taking the situation as seriously as he can, but it does not help him, other athletes, or victims of sexual assault if those in power don't truly believe in the seriousness of this problem.