I was 7 years old when I became a Chiefs fan. A scrappy little girl with a big mouth, I would wear my oversized Chiefs jersey to the Rotorua International Stadium, where I'd scream myself hoarse for my favourite team.
This week is the first time since then that I've been ashamed to be a Chiefs fan.
My beloved team has always been about heart. In the early days, our performance was decidedly average for more seasons than I'd like to remember, but our men were gutsy and good. They gave back to the community. They made a little girl feel like it was the coolest thing in the world to be a rugby fan.
When I heard the news that members of my team had been accused of manhandling a woman who was simply trying to do her job, my heart sank. This, after reports surfaced of anti-gay slurs apparently used in ignorance by a reserve player. I felt sick. The worst, however, was yet to come.
Chief executive Andrew Flexman, in an attempt to front-foot the damning allegations, addressed the media. "You have got to remember this is one person's accusation and her standing in the community and culpability is not beyond reproach," he said.
So, let me get this straight. His team hired a stripper, then proceeded to allegedly grope her without her consent to the extent where she was forced to use her martial arts training against one of them, and her standing in the community is called into question?
You know whose standing in the community I'm more concerned about? The players who seemed to think that they could allegedly touch, lick and pour beer over a woman without her consent. And the sponsor who is "reluctant to say that the boys were out of line".
These men are heroes to little girls who call themselves Chiefs fans, and to the grown women who've supported them from the beginning. They are also highly paid professionals who should, frankly, show more respect to the mighty Chiefs who have come before them and to game we all love.
This fan is very disappointed.