Harvard just canceled the men's soccer team's season after a sexually explicit 'scouting report' of female students emerged

Harvard UniversityRose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerThe men’s team was first in Ivy League standings and will forfeit the ability to finish the season.

Harvard University canceled the remainder of the men’s soccer season after finding the existence of sexually explicit documents about the physical appearance of female students, The Harvard Crimson reported.

“We strongly believe that this immediate and significant action is absolutely necessary if we are to create an environment of mutual support, respect and trust among our students and our teams,” Athletics Director Robert Scalise wrote in an email to Harvard student athletes, according to The New York Times.

Last week, Harvard learned of a “scouting report”
that the 2012 men’s soccer team produced, rating the women’s soccer recruits on their physical attractiveness. The document contained the female player’s photographs and assigned a sexual position to each, in addition to her position on the field, according to The Crimson. The scouting report seems to have been an annual tradition, and the document from 2012 had been public and searchable on Google Groups up until a week ago.

Harvard lawyers then began investigating the current team to see if a 2016 document existed. A lack of cooperation by current team members was partially responsible for the cancellation of the season.

Harvard University President Drew Gilpin FaustFrederick M. Brown/Getty ImagesHarvard President Drew Gilpin Faust.

“The decision to cancel a season is serious and consequential, and reflects Harvard’s view that both the team’s behaviour and the failure to be forthcoming when initially questioned are completely unacceptable,” Harvard President Drew Faust wrote in a statement.

Harvard’s Office of General Counsel found that the practice of rating women by the men’s soccer team continued into 2016.

After the 2012 document emerged, members of the female soccer team who were described in the 2012 document wrote an op-ed in The Crimson, disparaging the report and describing the degradation they felt as a result of its existence.

“We are these women, we are not anonymous, and rather than having our comments taken, spun, and published behind the guise of a fake anonymity offered to us by numerous news outlets, we have decided to speak for ourselves,” they wrote. They continued:

“In all, we do not pity ourselves, nor do we ache most because of the personal nature of this attack. More than anything, we are frustrated that this is a reality that all women have faced in the past and will continue to face throughout their lives. We feel hopeless because men who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this. We are appalled that female athletes who are told to feel empowered and proud of their abilities are so regularly reduced to a physical appearance.”

The men’s soccer team was first in Ivy League standings with two regular-season games to go. They have forfeited the ability to win a conference championship or participate in this year’s NCAA tournament.

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