Link – Pushing the Limit, by Alexandra Starr
This is a really good, lengthy, look into the issue of sexual abuse in Olympic Sports. While this story is about the US Olympic committee, we’re seeing similar stories around the world, with UK youth soccer, and who knows how many other countries? This last paragraph though, really brings the problem home:
Judy still believes that gymnastics is a meaningful activity for young people. She credits her training with helping her learn to confront fear: once, she was told to visualize her fears being piped into a hot air balloon that disappears into the sky. “I still use that imagery if I’m feeling anxious about something,” she said. Yet Judy sees a direct connection between the way she was humiliated as a child and sexually exploited a decade later, as if she’d been preconditioned. “It’s hard not to look back and think, ‘Is that the moment when it all began?’ ” Perhaps her first coach thought that he was teaching her a valuable lesson. What she took away, though, was a mantra that might make any child vulnerable: “I will always do what my coach says.”
It’s true, being an elite athlete requires a whole lot of doing what the coach says. That’s part of what is required. That sort of environment is also going to attract predators too. What needs to happen is better oversight and better enforcement. Don’t make it easy to get away with this behavior, make it extremely difficult. Until youth sports culture can do that, I’m afraid we’re going to keep hearing these stories.