eSports has exploded in popularity. While that’s incredibly cool for the players who are now getting paid to play games, it’s also a huge adjustment. Players who previously were anonymous, who were “just” good at playing games, are now role models thanks to eSports. Unlike other professional athletes, many of these guys don’t have coaches or other authority figures helping to teach them about how to behave in the public eye – just think about the scandals when Michael Phelps or other medal-winners were found to be drug users or womanizers. Traditional pro-athletes are taught from early on that anything and everything they do can and will be judged by the rest of the world; eSports pros are only just learning that.
Many eSports have started to crack down on unprofessional and inappropriate behavior, issuing warnings and bans for racism, sexism and general abuse. But this latest case has made me question my own prejudices.
Pro player, Noel Brown, is gone for the Street Fighter V season thanks to a ban from Capcom. According to GamesIndustry who go a hold of the statement from Capcom, they stated:
Over the past weekend, we were notified that an unfortunate case of sexual harassment occurred at Combo Breaker 2016, a Capcom Pro Tour Ranking Event, where a female attendee received unwarranted and unwanted contact from a male attendee, who is confirmed to be Noel Brown. This incident was also captured on camera during the live stream before the Street Fighter V Losers Finals match.
This was cited as a first offense, with a warning that a second offense will result in a lifetime ban. Additionally, these penalties are meant to serve as a template for similar incidents from other players going forward.
We do not condone any acts of harassment and we want all of our players and fans to know we will continue our work to ensure that all Capcom Pro Tour events provide safe, inviting environments where the focus is on healthy competition and exciting rivalries. We support Combo Breaker’s decision to ban Noel Brown and support any tournament organizer who decides to ban anyone from their event who they feel is creating a hostile environment for other attendees.
So, good guy Capcom, end of story, right? I mean, sexual harassment is bad and should be punished, no question. And this is something that needs to be drilled into our local guys, too – what you do and say can and will be held against you. Players need to be better behaved and if bans will keep them in line, I’m all for it.
But there’s always a but… You see, I decided to go hunting for the video of the sexual harassment. It shouldn’t matter – sexual harassment isn’t about “how bad was it”, but I’m curious and wanted to see for myself. So, thanks to reddit, I found this gif. Noel Brown is the man in the white t-shirt who grabs the butt of the lady in the blue hoodie.
So again, I know that any unwanted touching is sexual harassment, and therefore I support this lady and support the ban. However, I feel like this gif highlights something that’s wrong in me – I didn’t even notice the touching the first few times I watched the video, and when I did see it, I then checked to see if she “seemed” upset or if this was just two friends joking around. Why is my initial reaction “oh, that’s not so bad” and “oh hey, maybe she didn’t mind” when actually she shouldn’t have her butt grabbed unless she wants it? It’s not okay.
So, here’s hoping that Noel Brown learns his lesson while I also try to be reminded of mine. Not all sexual harassment is violent or horrifying – it doesn’t have to be over the top to still be unacceptable.
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Last Updated: June 6, 2016