Q: To whom it may concern,
A few years back on a sport tour I got into a bit of a situation with a fan. What started out as a regular after game sex session with a female fan got out of hand. Some of the other guys turned up and joined in. I thought it was okay at the time, but now the whole thing has blown up and turned ugly. The thing is I’m the only one who has been named and shamed for this, and there were all these other guys from the team involved too. I know who they are, but they are staying quiet. I’m sick of having to cop it all. Can I reveal their names? It seems like the wrong thing to do, to break that team code, but I’m out here getting plenty on my own and no one else is coming forward. What should I do?
M.J, Rockdale, NSW
A: It’s so hard to come face to face with the fact of our ultimate aloneness M.J. Most of us avoid this confrontation unless we are forced to face it. It sounds as if you are struggling with the question of how you will face it. So much has changed since this night and it sounds as if the repercussions are overwhelming. When a team is working well, it protects and supports us to go beyond what we can do ourselves. When it is not, we realize more clearly that we ultimately have the freedom to make our own decisions. And we must stand alone when we are held to account for our actions.
It is frustrating and painful to experience the desertion of our friends. It is lonely to face up to our choices without the acknowledgement that they were made with the approval of others. But can we ever really share the blame? Each decision we make, even within a group, is our own. Each of you is responsible for the situation getting “out of hand”. Each of you is part of the ugliness. That you are being named alone is not your concern here it seems to me. This is not because team codes are sacred, but because we are each responsible for the hurt others suffer at our hands. You stood alone then and you stand alone now.
It’s a fantasy to think that sharing this public condemnation would lessen the burden. It would perhaps ease your understandable feelings of unfairness, but it would do nothing to address the knowledge that you hurt someone. That what you thought was okay at the time was “ugly” for her. You are alone now, as she was and may still be.
You did not have the choice to stay quiet as your teammates have. But do you want to reveal their names to soothe your shame? Would it help to be one of many here? Who would it help?
These are important questions I think. Equally important is what you now understand as “okay”. It sounds as if this too has changed and, with it, the whole landscape you once inhabited.