Football offensive lineman Connor Clancy ’15 is protecting more than his quarterback.
Off the field, Clancy was also involved with a petition in reaction to the Steubenville, Ohio, case in which star high school football players sexually assaulted a young girl in 2012. The assault was documented via social media, and some members of the community blamed the victim for the assault and the negative publicity it caused for the Steubenville football program.
Efforts by Clancy and others resulted in a pledge by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) to provide education for coaches across the country about sexual assault.
“As a nation, we have a history of overlooking assault when it’s committed by athletes, from the high school level to university programs to professional sports,” reads the petition started by Clancy ’15 and Carmen Rios, an activist with the SPARK movement to end sexualization of women and girls in the media. “But most athletes and coaches, like most men and most people, think sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence need to stop.”
The goal of the petition was to gather signatures and support to help “empower coaches, who are mentors to young men, to begin difficult and complex conversations about sexual violence [that] could create long-lasting change in communities across the nation and lead to curbing, and even ending, sexual violence.”
Almost 68,000 people signed the petition. “I didn’t know it was going to become so big,” said Clancy.
In May, two months after the petition launched, the petitioners declared victory. “In March, we asked that the NFHS bring a coalition to the table to craft a curriculum for coaches willing to take on the important work of advocacy and education around sexual assault in their communities,” wrote Rios on change.org. “Now, these resources will be reaching over 18,500 schools, 11 million athletes, and countless more students.”
Clancy’s role in the petition stemmed from his involvement with Colby’s Mules Against Violence group, which works to promote awareness around sexual violence and challenge stereotypes of men—and male athletes.
Clancy and Rios gathered support for the petition through the social action platform change.org. “The more people are educated,” Clancy said, “the more it will help.”