Safe4Athletes

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 00:00

The Truth about Coach-Athlete Relationships

By Katherine Starr – President & Founder Safe4Athletes

Since the Sandusky case we have jumped on the bandwagon in sports and addressed child sexual abuse in sports. We show videos of adolescent aged girls and boys being targeted and abused. Without a doubt, we react emotionally and with revulsion to something so horrific as the taking the innocence of a young child.

Yet, that isn’t the whole truth when discussing coach-athlete sexual abuse. If you look at the list of banned swim coaches on the USA Swimming website, there isn’t one coached banned for a sexual abuse who was accused of having a relationship with a swimmer under the age of 13. 

We wouldn’t know that based on the education videos that we are forced to watch in order to be certified in some capacity in sports.  These videos only depict young children being cultivated by acquaintance pedophiles.

Why aren’t we seeing videos of an 17-yr-old voicing how a close relationship with his or her coach went from athlete affection as a reward for their hard work on the practice field  to molestation or,  from the psyche and perspective of the artfully manipulated athlete, “a loving relationship.”  This scenario just doesn’t pull at our heartstrings in the same way.  Why aren’t we seeing a video of a 25-year-old, who we assume is a consenting adult, talking about such a relationship?  We react with even less sympathy in this case, if any at all.

If we truly want to address sexual abuse and harassment in sports we need to call it what it is, an abuse of power between the coach and the athlete that occurs at all ages.  We are misled if educational materials imply something else. 

If we look at the minimum age requirements to compete in the Olympics by sport, one would find that age requirements correlate to the vulnerability of athlete sexual abuse.   The lower end sports that begin to peak around 13/14 like gymnastics, swimming and taekwondo is also the age where the “coach-athlete relationship” begins and coaches start to get banned for their inappropriate relationships with their athletes.

When you look at some of the old minimum-age sports like Team Handball, Cycling and Weightlifting that have age requirements of 17-or 18-years-old, we hear less about these cases, as it is presumed that there was consent with the coach at that point.

If you look at the website of listed organizations with a list of banned coaches, they are the ones with the younger age limits to compete at the international level.

Published in Safe4Athletes Blog

GOING OUTSIDE TITLE IX TO KEEP COACH-ATHLETE RELATIONSHIPS IN BOUNDS

DEBORAH L. BRAKE*

Coach-athlete “romances” are the dirty little secrets of sport. No one wants to talk about them. Now and then, a high profile scandal rips through the headlines—as when University of North Carolina’s legendary soccer coach, Anson Dorrance, was accused of sexually harassing his players.
1 On these infrequent occasions, the glare of the media spotlight forces a brief period of introspection about the proper boundaries of the coach-athlete relationship. Even then, it is mostly the extreme allegations that garner  attention—conduct clearly identifiable as sexual harassment, especially if it involves a sexual assault. In the case of Coach Dorrance, the complained-of behaviors were verbal and did not involve physical advances; 2 the notoriety of the case stemmed from the coach’s fame and track record and its addition to a small handful of reported court decisions involving coach-athlete sexual harassment in intercollegiate sports.3 Absent headline-grabbing scandals, however, coach-athlete relationships are rarely examined for their impact on womens sports and athlete well-being. This is largely because they do not come within the ambit of Title IX, which sets the agenda for conversations about gender equity in sport.

Full Paper available for download.  

Published in Policy
Monday, 17 September 2012 10:08

Speedskating Coach Is Accused of Abuse

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Five Olympic medalists and other current and former members of the U.S. speedskating team filed complaints accusing head coach Jae Su Chun of “unchecked” verbal, physical and psychological abuse.

Nineteen athletes filed a wide-ranging grievance against U.S. Speedskating and 14 signed a complaint with the U.S. Olympic Committee. The Chicago Tribune and Salt Lake Tribune reported on the accusations.

Attorney Edward Williams, who represents the skaters, said the abuse was “outrageous.”

The code of conduct complaint accuses Chun of slamming an athlete against a wall and repeatedly hitting him, throwing bottles and chairs at skaters, and repeatedly telling female skaters they were “fat” and “disgusting.”

Published in Safe4Athletes Blog
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