An Apology from Harvard Men’s Soccer

On behalf of all of us at Harvard Men’s Soccer, we sincerely apologize for the harm our words and actions have caused women everywhere, and especially our close friends on the Women’s Soccer team. Our team has been blessed with the opportunity to know and learn from these incredible women, receive their unconditional support, and form with them some of the strongest friendships on this campus. In return, we hurt them with the things we said, in the form of the inappropriate scouting reports, and with the things we did not say, in the form of our dishonesty toward them, and for that we are very sorry.

We want to affirm that the scouting report did not and does not reflect our view of the members of Harvard Women’s Soccer or of women in general. The relationship we have enjoyed with their team to this day means the world to us, and we are deeply ashamed that it took a public revelation, a loss of trust, and damaged friendships for us to fully grasp the gravity of our conduct, for which each member of our team takes full and equal responsibility. No woman deserves to be treated in this manner; not our mothers, our sisters, nor our peers. We apologize to them, and to all those who trusted us, supported us, and believed in us.

Please do not misconstrue our silence up until this point as a lack of remorse on our part. Out of respect for the women’s team, who expressed their desire to focus on the remainder of their season, we postponed the release of our public apology so as not to burden them with further distractions. Now that the Athletic Department has decided to terminate our season, we feel it is appropriate and necessary to address the situation publicly. We accept responsibility for the mistakes and serious lapses in judgment that have led us here, and, in addition to accepting the sanctions from the Athletic Department, are shifting our focus toward the concrete actions we can take to address the fundamental issue of sexism in our community.

When our current coaches took over the program in 2013, they sparked a massive culture change, one in which it is paramount to hold each other accountable for our actions. These scouting reports, an inexcusable manifestation of sexism and misogyny on our part, persisted in spite of this culture change, and we must now hold ourselves accountable for them. Our coaches have also taught us to be open in accepting our mistakes and to always focus on the next most important thing—and the next most important thing for us now is to do everything we can to start rebuilding the trust and relationships we severed, while doing anything possible to help heal the pain we have caused Harvard Women’s Soccer, their families, and women everywhere.

To do so, we must first confront the issues of sexism and misogyny within our own locker room, so that we can take up the call issued by the women of the Harvard Women’s Soccer Class of 2016 to join them in combatting this sort of behavior. Starting with ourselves, all players on this team now commit our efforts to spur a cultural change that goes beyond the scope of our own team.

Over the course of the previous week, we have been devoting our attention to this problem as our top priority, and our meetings as a team and with University officials have yielded a few specific proposals to educate ourselves and to help others come to the same realizations that we reached without repeating our mistakes. We hope to guide conversation among the other athletic teams about sexism, and we ask for input from the community at large, openly welcoming and encouraging any and all constructive discussion of and collaboration with our efforts.

There are no excuses for our behavior, and all we can do now is take it upon ourselves to be an example of change for the better. Our apology comes from a place of optimism and a willingness to advance an agenda of gender equality that is in line with the relationships that we want to cultivate. We take responsibility for our actions, and we accept the consequences that come from them and now focus on what we can do to move forward. We wholeheartedly promise to do anything in our power to build a more respectful and harmonious athletic field, classroom, and Harvard community.

This op-ed was written by the members of the 2016 Harvard Men's Soccer Team.

Editor's Note: Due to this apology's content and its relevance to the Harvard community, at the request of the team we allowed it to be signed by the team as a whole rather than as individuals.

Nelson L. Barrette '17 and Ryan P. O'Meara '18, Editorial Chairs
Mariel A. Klein '17, President

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