This is our truth, tell us yours
Sportsmen behaving badly are making the news this week. If it’s not Ben Flower proving that the spirit of Big Jim Mills is not dead, it’s Ched Evans proving that he’s the gift that keeps on giving. Now we’ve got an ongoing relationship with Ched, having written about him previously.
Ched is, apparently, being considered for a job with his old employers. He isn’t the first convict to be considered for re-employment on his release, and he won’t be the last. It’s hard not to ask yourself why, however.
Let’s be clear about this. Ched Evans is not an exceptional footballer. He is, by the standards of his fellow professionals, mediocre.
Now, I’ve known a few people who’ve had jobs kept open for them – salesreps who don’t get sacked when they lose their driving licences, a bus driver who was re-employed after doing six months for GBH, but they’re exceptional enough for me to remember them.
Why would you re-employ Ched? Is it that, like a sales rep who gets banned for speeding, his offence is just an occupational hazard, or is it because his offence is utterly unconnected to his work, and doesn’t affect his ability to do his job in the future? Part of the problem is that his employers don’t seem to know which it is, or to understand that a rape of a woman who can’t consent is of a different order of moral magnitude to punching someone in a drunken fight that goes bad.
Ched, and his supporters, might feel of course that compared to Ben Flower Ched has been treated harshly. After all, what Ben did was nothing less than GBH, and some people have, foolishly, called for Flower to be prosecuted.
There are differences of course. Flower’s offence was during the game, and was dealt with by the refereee, and subsequently by the game’s authorities. English law has always made an exception for offences committed in the course of a lawful game, and it’s arguable that the response of the rugby league authorities has helped to deal with the issue. It’s also helped though that, in the world of rugby league, punches are not unknown, and it’s not as if he has tipped over into Hopoate territory.
It’s precisely the lack of a response from Ched Evans’ employers that makes it such a high profile case. There is an issue of principle at work here. Is there a vacancy at Sheffield Utd for a player like Ched Evans? If there is, why hasn’t it been filled?
Sales reps whose jobs are kept open for them usually have specialist knowledge of their area of work, or a locality. My friend the bus driver was lucky that his employers knew it would take almost as long to recruit a replacement as he would spend in prison.
There appears to be no explanation as to why Ched Evans should be re-signed. If there is some pressing reason, it hasn’t been articulated by his employers. In the absence of those pressing reasons, it’s hard not to imagine that they, like his girlfriend, feel he has been hard done by. That’s a good reason to be annoyed, because he hasn’t.
Ched and his friends would like to put the fact that he’s a rapist behind him. They have some curious ways of doing it.