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03rd Aug 2021

Opinion: More men need to publicly call out their teammates like the US fencing team

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Yes, more of this please.

In case you missed it, the US men’s fencing team took a huge stand against one of their own teammates during the Olympics last weekend.

When the team of four found out they’d be going to the Tokyo games, it wasn’t all good news as it was immediately followed by Alen Hadzic being accused of sexual misconduct between 2013 and 2015 by three women.

While he is denying the allegations and appealed a suspension to take him off the team, his three teammates are still fighting against having him fence alongside them.

Hadzic has also been banned from staying at the Olympic Village due to these allegations and was made take a separate flight over to Tokyo.

Making the stand against him, Jacob Hoyle, Curtis McDowald and Yeisser Ramirez all wore pink face masks to show support for victims of sexual assault, while Hadzic was singled out in a black mask.

Knowing the allegations against their teammate and the fact that he was still allowed to compete was enough for them to want to disassociate from him, and we need to see this a whole lot more.

More and more in recent years, we’re hearing of people in the public eye having allegations made against them like this, and as they become more common, we still see such little action being done.

When it comes to team sports, casts of TV series or films or even regular friend groups, lads often back each other up or simply don’t call each other out for their behaviour.

Look, I know it’s not all men, we all know it’s not all men, but it is those who don’t say anything or don’t take a stand that can be just as bad as those who commit these acts or have allegations against them.

By this, I mean that if a person witnesses or knows about their friend committing something like this and says or does absolutely nothing, they’re a huge part of the problem too.

The way that these three US fencers didn’t care what others thought or if it could potentially ruin their Olympic career, standing up and so clearly showing their support for survivors is something men need to do more of.

The stigma around not speaking up and holding back when it comes to this type of thing, keeping it to yourself to protect a friend or not telling them it was wrong out of fear, all needs to end.

Women have been endlessly asking that men make a stand for years, but it is so refreshing to finally see three men publicly show their support and so clearly not having any of it.

Not saying anything when you know is not good enough, we need to hold people accountable for their actions, especially when it’s something as serious as the allegations made against Hadzic.