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Bravo, Melisa: Good WILL come from the Addison Russell saga

It stinks that I’m listening to the Cubs giving a press conference about an alleged domestic abuser who’s in their employ. This isn’t the first time my favorite team has faced scrutiny because they’ve harbored a bad dude in their clubhouse.

I have been following this story closely since it broke, way back in 2017 when Addison Russell’s now-ex wife first brought to light the issues in their relationship. Today, I read Melisa Ready-Russell’s entire blog, from start to finish. I also followed the Aroldis Chapman domestic abuse story back in 2016.

(Link to Melisa’s blog post: https://lifewithmelis310373032.wordpress.com)

In NO WAY do I have Cubbie-blue blinders on, nor do I hold the behavior of their players against the franchise. As a lifelong sports fan & long-time sports reporter, I know this stuff is equal-opportunity. There are bad dudes everywhere, from high school sports to college sports to pro sports and everywhere in between. I’ve witnessed it firsthand, from casual misogyny to outright offensive behavior that’ll…put hair on your chest? Poor treatment of women is a societal problem. We know this. It’s only magnified in sports.

You idolize these professional athletes, or hold them to a higher standard, at your own risk. You don’t even realize how much negative shit is perpetrated by your heroes that never sees the light of day.

Let me pause to say, no one knows what really happened in the Russell relationship. I’m not here to demonize this particular guy, or convict him in the court of public opinion. I want to make a statement about women standing up for themselves, in general, and making changes in the way the world sees us. You don’t have to have been actually physically abused to feel deeply affected by this topic.

Sometimes, it doesn’t seem much like it, and maybe we’ll never reach a real SOLUTION to the problem of institutional sexism in a society men still feel belongs to them, but there has been progress in recent years. I LOVE that Melisa Ready-Russell feels strong and brave enough to tell her story. I LOVE that she says she developed that strength and courage because of a network of friends who support her! I LOVE that the “Me Too” movement and all the brave women who built it into an actual “movement” have exposed and taken down the bad dudes in Hollywood and network TV. I LOVE that we as a society are eating away, little by little, at that sense of male entitlement.

This situation sucks for the Cubs, and by extension, their fans. But it WILL lead to progress, just like every case before it has. Women are a formidable force in this world, to be respected and taken seriously, and the world is filled with intelligent, evolved people who understand that already. But there are still a lot of bad dudes out there, and a lot of women who are beholden to them, whether because of actual violence or mental manipulation or just deep-seated fear of stepping up and breaking out of that neat little box of “women’s place in society.”

We’ve probably all been there at one point in our lives. Every woman you know.

Personally, I know I am done compromising myself or holding back what I really think, or want to say, because I want to fit in and be accepted in a man’s world.

I’ve long been done expecting my professional athletes to behave like perfect gentlemen, or even decent humans, off the field. What I know is happening, though, because of women like Melisa Ready-Russell, is that we as a society are waking up to reality. We’re eroding the status quo. And just like every other situation that (thank goodness) doesn’t “kill” us, this makes us stronger.

 

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