Well, a lot has been going on in the past month and it all kind of peaked today. Remember that whole Jerry Sandusky thing and how it started with one person, then dirt got dug up, and before you knew it something imploded? We’re well on our way out here in Missouri. Unlike Penn State though, I’ve actually been involved. Very involved…making this an emotional past three weeks.
I’m not a basketball fan at all – I just don’t like the sport. But my friends do and I got some free tickets to the game November 10th, during which my friends noticed a certain Michael Dixon Jr, or as I was conditioned to call him, Mike, wasn’t playing. One of them said something about academic probation and we moved on. I wasn’t surprised. The basketball players have a reputation for partying and not keeping it all together like the football team has to do. We actually ran into some of the team, including Phil Pressey, that very night when we were out. Pressey told us simply that Mike didn’t play because he was “messed up in the head.” So while the rest of the world went ahead and believed Mike, our senior guard and quite a celebrity, was simply slacking in his classes, in my little group of friends we knew something else was up.
Like I said, I’m involved here. I’ve dealt with Mike and I know at least two other girls who have had similar experiences, so I’ve been a little ahead of the curve as this saga has unfolded. Over break, a girl I’ve known since the first semester of freshman year said something about how Mizzou was about to be under a lot of scrutiny. Why, you ask. Because Michael Dixon was accused of sexual assault. This is where my mind was blown. Because the girl and I, without a doubt, both believed it was true. We weren’t surprised. We know how he is. We’ve dealt with him. I knew the accusation was legitimate, even though I still don’t know who made it. And this is where things got weird.
My friend, who stood by me as much as she could while I struggled with Mike, was the first person I texted when I saw that. I couldn’t find an article online but she believed everything. It wasn’t until the next day that we started seeing the news reports come out. Then I got back to Columbia and really saw what the whole situation was doing to the campus. I don’t have a twitter, but I’ve been informed that ‘Free Mike Dixon’ was trending one night when the public got fed up with him being benched. Then there’s the gender divide.
All the boys, even some football players that sit near me on my hour off every day, think the whole rape thing is some sort of joke. I still see the one footballer’s face as he laughs at the mention of it. The general consensus among the men is that the girl just wants attention and Mike was never charged so nothing went wrong. Then you talk to the girls. Especially ones like me who know him. Our eyes get wide and we just have to say “I believe it. He’s capable of it. He would do it. He’s done it.” I was surprisingly happy this morning to find out, after my roommates asked me about what I thought, since they knew I knew Mike, that they agreed the accusations weren’t unfounded.
I’ve only told two or three people details about dealing with Mike Dixon because it was, and is, so stressful to me. My brother has diagnosed anxiety issues and I feel what it’s like to be him every time someone tries to bother me about Mike. Luckily for me, I’ve pretty much evaded him this semester, but for half of spring semester I wasn’t so lucky. Dealing with Mike Dixon is like getting robbed. You try to push away until you can’t anymore, then give him what he wants and run the other way as fast as you can, hoping he does the same. At least that’s how it was for me.
Anyone who knows Mike knows how pushy he is. And you really don’t know why you put up with it. Mostly because he’s a little celebrity on campus who everyone loves and respects. There’s a feeling of obligation to be nice to him, not upset him, and listen to what he wants. All athletes are entitled, and Mike is exceptionally so. His attitude intimidates you, scares you a bit, but not enough to make a scene when he’s being pushy. Not enough to make him mad or disrespect him. Because going to a Division I school like ours, with games on national television and ranked teams, you become conditioned to see that these athletes are more important than you. Their happiness is more important than yours. Their well-being more valuable than your own. So you put up with them. You make sacrifices.
Because look what happens when you tell. Look what happens when they get in trouble. ‘Free Mike Dixon’ everywhere. Anger and frustration boiling over. A girl who felt violated now afraid to walk around the school because of people calling her an attention whore and a liar. And yesterday it got worse.
Shortly after I met Mike, I learned that a couple of years ago he’d been suspended for something that was never really clear, and we all found out Thursday that it was another allegation involving a woman doing something she really didn’t want to do because of Mike. Once again, I’m really not surprised. I think I always knew in my heart of hearts that it was something along those lines that somehow got swept under the rug because he’s Mike Dixon. But with his reputation already spiraling down, this is the perfect time for anyone who’s ever felt harassed by him to come forward and not worry as much about what people will think. So what did he do?
Last night, Mike Dixon decided to transfer out of Missouri.
When I found out this afternoon, I breathed such a sigh of relief. I felt like laughing and crying at the same time as I was just trying to get to work. Reading the news article on my drive, I could not believe how amazing I felt. Two very close friends of mine know about my anxiety about Mike, has it stopped them from bothering me about him? One of them respected my privacy, the other didn’t until today. And two weeks ago I had a vulnerable moment with a guy I’ve been spending time with, leading to me feeling like I needed to explain myself. He’s an incredible person and it didn’t feel right to have trust issues around someone like him. I thought maybe if he understood, if I could explain why I’m anxious going out at night, and drinking around people I don’t know, especially guys, and why I need so much security, maybe then things would get better. People assume too much these days, and I could tell he was well on his way so I just explained as best I could.
How I met Mike out with friends one night and that’s why I can’t just go out and have fun and let go, worrying he’ll show up where I am. How I need to have someone around I trust and can hide behind, because I HAVE hidden in the past, no joke. How dealing with Mike made me feel so awful about myself that I never feel good enough for anyone, especially someone like this guy I was with, and I feel too damaged to be loved sometimes, if that makes sense. Not that it was all him, because I never had a good relationship with my dad either which we all know only contributes to insecurities in daughters, but Mike just exacerbated those feelings.
So I explained it to him. I’m not crazy. This is what it is and for the most part, I handle it fine, but I have my moments. And this guy is like me – we don’t do well with emotions; we tend to hold back. But there was an air of understanding in his room and a situation that could have been really awkward has been fine. I realize now that I opened up at the perfect time. Because if he had his doubts, like my friend didn’t understand my anxiety about the basketball team, everything makes sense in light of these allegations. I feel so validated, I’m almost smug. I just want to look around at everyone and say “SEE! This is why I NEVER listened to you when you told me to text him. I knew he was like this. I knew this wasn’t right.” They all see now there was a reason I was never comfortable with him, even if I never shared it with them.
But I’m still expecting a lot of angry people, mostly men, in my neighborhood and at my school once the transfer news really gets out. Because Mike is still loved. The fans still want and need him. And most people still see him as innocent because he was never charged with anything. So the highlight of my day was trying to share my joy with the aforementioned guy I know, since he’d just asked me if I’d heard about the Mike Dixon Saga when we were together Thursday night. His response to the transfer news? “Good” then a few minutes later: “Are you alright?”
He doesn’t care about basketball. He doesn’t care about Mike Dixon. But I’d say he cares about me if he’s brave enough to say it’s good Mike’s leaving when the rest of the school will throw a fit. It’s nice to feel like someone’s on my side. Because most people would hear one of my friends say that I knew Mike Dixon and they would freak out in awe, asking questions about him that I didn’t want to answer. Everyone has always been Pro-Mike Dixon. Today, though, I feel like I won. I can go out again, I think. Which is good because a guy I’ve known for a year who’s my buddy in one of my classes gave me an invite to their big Christmas party this weekend. It’s nice to not worry, and to know for sure when I say I’ll go.
Everything’s changing. Or maybe it’s just falling into place. What goes around comes around, and good things come to those who wait…all that good stuff.