You’ve probably heard the news about the National Women’s Soccer League coach who was accused of sexual assault.
Sexual assault is about the abuse of power and authority. Research shows that sexual abuse happens in all sports and at all levels.
I have some thoughts…
There is physical and psychological impact on the athlete, that can have short and long term effects. Gender, age, race all play a role in the power dynamic.
Sexual assault can impact the team dynamic – leading to denial, lack of intervention, and secrecy.
Psychologically, it can lead to depression, addictive behaviors, self-harm, and suicide.
Athletes can feel betrayed when trust is broken by someone in a position of authority. Abuse of power can lead to the exploitation of athletes in the coach/athlete dynamic.
A coach has control over the athlete’s playing time, if they’re rostered or not, if they travel or not, if they’re traded, salary amount and contract negotiation – all of these factors leave the athlete dependent on their coach and with a sense of powerlessness in choice.
When there are social events – especially when alcohol is involved, time spent in unstructured activities, travel, the locker room can all be risky environments.
When people in power in the sports industry don’t intervene, there is deeper psychological impact
We need to have more conversations about sexual assault in sports.
Happy to connect and talk with anyone on this topic.