NZ Cricket should stop protecting Black Cap Scott Kuggeleijn
OPINION: New Zealand Cricket needs to pull down the barricade around Scott Kuggeleijn over his rape trials and lead an example on how sport can change attitudes towards women.
On Waitangi Day a woman at the Black Caps' T20 match against India in Wellington was made to feel uncomfortable because NZC, which is constantly reminding us it strives to be more inclusive of women, made a bad call.
NZC and Westpac Stadium security asked her to remove her "no means no" banner promoting sexual consent.
The banner was directed at Kuggeleijn, who was found not guilty of rape in 2017 and is now in the Black Caps' ODI and T20 teams. Security staff embarrassingly surrounded the woman, attempted to confiscate the sign and then escorted her from her seat. They later admitted they had over-reacted.
* No means no banner taken down by NZC
* NZC happy with how they handled rape trials
*NZ Cricket should stop the silence
* Kuggeleijn rape trial: Jury finds cricketer not guilty
* Kuggeleijn rape trial: Complainant's clothes 'provocative'
* Top Waikato cricket player 'set up' on rape charges - mum
NZC has barricaded Kuggeleijn from the media since his second trial - the jury in the first could not reach a verdict. There has been no word of remorse over his actions in the 2015 incident since the not guilty verdict. During his trials he admitted the woman had said no at least twice to his persistent attempts to have sex with her. He apologised to her the next day.
The lack of remorse is why the woman at Westpac Stadium and many more are seeking change to the way sport handles sexual violence.
Kuggeleijn and his employer have missed a giant opportunity to make positive change to New Zealand's sporting culture and the way some players disrespect women.
There are too many incidents of abuse and sexual violence committed by players in prominent national sports teams. Yet no-one has been made an example of, and what is worse, none of the organisations have stood up and said no more.
If there was zero tolerance from sports organisations to violence against females wouldn't we see less of it?
Instead, we have just seen NZC remove a banner to protect Kuggeleijn's feelings. Heaven forbid "no means no" put him off his bowling.
At a time when women are being acknowledged for both loving sport and also being pretty darn good at it, it was poor judgment to remove a message promoting female safety.
However, the core issue is not the banner, not the woman writing it, and not the number of security guards it took to remove it. The issue isn't Kuggeleijn's not guilty court verdict.
The issue is New Zealand Cricket's stonewall of protection for a man who has seemingly has no voice. And NZC's inability to front up and lead change.
Kuggeleijn is 27, a paid employee and those two factors alone should make him accountable. NZC's security blanket is completely over the top and embarrassing.
Both the player and the organisation are missing a big opportunity to make some good of an unfavourable situation.
Wearing the Black Caps colours, Kuggeleijn is now in a position to influence young Kiwi males on almost any topic. Why not start with making better decisions around women?
So far, Kuggeleijn's quiet reintroduction to the Black Caps has not been handled well.
The reason petitions, banners, and sports commentators are speaking out against NZC's stance on sexual violence, or lack of it, is because people haven't heard any remorse, or a "I want to make good" or even a "treat women better".
The continual selection by sports organisations of players who treat women badly sends a clear message that a black uniform is a licence to do what they please, and a defence to get away with it.
After a two year hiatus on the subject New Zealand Cricket said last month it was confident about the way it has handled things and in the wake of his trials they now have professional players taken through the New Zealand Cricket Players Association (NZCPA) induction course, which includes a "comprehensive workshop on sexual harassment and consent".
It is time for a New Zealand sports organisation to take the lead and address publicly these terrible off-field incidents and attitudes towards women.
Maybe then players will make better decisions and not assume they are a gift to women, but rather an equal.