The USA Swimming youth coach sex abuse scandal, now under investigation by Congressman George Miller, should not become another thumb-sucker on the societal problem of molestation of children. Rather, it should drive a new understanding of specific markers of the power relationships between young athletes and our amateur sports system.
No one grasps this aspect of the issue better than Katherine Starr of Safe4Athletes (http://safe4athletes.org). Starr explains in a new piece for MomsTeam.com (a site to which I am grateful for publishing some of my own investigations into and essays about swimming abuse — despite the differences of opinion between Concussion Inc. and MomsTeam over solutions to the football concussion crisis).
Starrs The Truth about Coach-Athlete Relationships (http://www.momsteam.com/blog/katherine-starr/truth-about-coach-athlete-relationships) is a must read. The unassailable and uncomfortable thesis is that were not talking about helpless 8-year-old girl victims here. Also, the common age range of victims varies by sport and by age of athletic peak in the sport:
… [A]ge requirements correlate to the vulnerability of athlete sexual abuse. The sports in which athletes begin to peak around age 13 or 14, like gymnastics, swimming and taekwondo, are the ones in which, at that age, a close ‘coach-athlete relationship’ begins and coaches start to get banned for their inappropriate relationships with their athletes.