To folks joining us on www.managingcontraception.com I meet weekly with women who have been emotionally, physically and/or sexually abused. The Penn State revelations have been about boys and young men who have been abused. But don’t think for a minute than women have escaped sexual abuse, violence and emotional trauma related to athletics on college campuses. Here are my thoughts about
Big time athletics and predatory sexual abuse
November 14, 2011
The Penn State disgrace is on our lips, but then we should also remember the John Woodens and Dean Smiths of college sports.
This past week has been tough for those of us who truly believe that there are many, many good things young and old can learn from sports. The first part of this article is derived from one I wrote months ago. I feel it is important to repeat these words in view of the culture of athletics on college and university campuses revolving around money, money, money and the sad events at Penn State.
John Wooden coached basketball teams. And they did very, very well. He lived to right at 100 years of age and perhaps you are thinking: “Just why” should I be interested in this old man’s three rules?”
Well, John Wooden wasn’t just another successful coach. He was THE WINNER of all big time athletic winners. His success exceeded that of any other coach over the last 100 years. His basketball teams had four perfect 30-0 seasons and he was named ESPN’s greatest coach of the 20th century.
His UCLA basketball teams won 10 National Championships. You know, the tournament we are all talking about each spring called March Madness. Well, he won THAT tournament 12 times!
Here were his rules for his players:
1. Get to every meeting, practice and game on time
2. Not one swear word
3. Never criticize one of your teammates
Almost all of John Wooden’s players graduated from college. He was known for his impeccable record of sportsmanship. He was even named California Father (and later, Grandfather) of the Year.
If I didn’t quite win you over with those three rules for his team, let me tell you what he said was his daily rule for himself. But first think about what daily rule would best characterize your approach to life. Think about that for one minute and then after one minute of deep reflection read this last paragraph.
Here is what John Wooden encouraged each of us to do:
“Make each day your masterpiece.”
Now we are hearing of the evil, selfish, sexually depraved acts of a man, Jerry Sandusky, who was twice named the best assistant football coach in the entire country. His teams did what successful teams are supposed to do, WIN AND MAKE MONEY. The words used to describe him and Penn State coaches and administrators are strong and angry. They have dominated both sports news and national news this past week.
You have heard the following words and phrases. They are NOT my words:
“Predatory, child rape, an outrageous tragedy, perversion of power in college sports, the biggest story on college sports ever, negative visceral outrage and perhaps most often, unbelievable.”
But wait there’s more!
“It took a victim’s mother to notify the police because it was more important to protect the system, to protect the football team, than to protect the boys. It was a conspiracy of silence for 13 years. There was a psychopathic lack of concern for the effects of these sexual crimes on young boys.”
As we hear more, and I am certain we will be hearing much more, it might be well to remember that there are high school and college coaches (and I think that this is the case for most of them) who are far more like John Wooden and Dean Smith than like Jerry Sandusky.
A resident of Tiger, Georgia, Robert A. Hatcher MD,
Is a professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the Emory University School of Medicine
He meets weekly with the women and staff at Fight Abuse In The Home (FAITH) in Clayton, Georgia