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Archive for June 11, 2013

June 11, 2013 — Addressing a problem

If you’ve been reading Steve Locke’s weekly blog entries from the USA Field Hockey offices (and I really hope you do), you’ll have seen a very interesting item this week.

USA Field Hockey is assembling a committee of three to five people to advise and implement what is being called the “Safe Sport Program.” This program, enacted by the United States Olympic Committee in 2012, seeks to make athletes under the USOC umbrella aware of misconduct including bullying, sexual abuse, and molestation.

There have been, of course, a number of high-profile incidents in the game of field hockey the last six years where people connected to the sport have been arrested and/or jailed on morals charges. There is the conviction of Don Peters, the 1984 U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastic coach. There’s the recent conviction of Rick Curl for his sexual relationship with a swimmer two decades ago. There was the whole kerfuffle in short-track speed skating where athletes were bullied by their coach.

But I think ultimately what led to the USOC’s decision was the fact that Olympians such as Margaret Hoelzer (swimming) and Kayla Harrison (judo) came out as having been abused. It makes a great media story about overcoming obstacles, but it reveals a deepening underbelly of a pattern amongst coaches in many athletic disciplines.

And I hope field hockey — from High Performance all the way down to U.S. schools — will take the lead in the implementation of Safe Sport.