DJ The Football Mom Blog, November 12, 2011
This week in sports has had me in an emotional tailspin. My emotions have run the gamut from total outrage to extreme sadness. No matter where I am on this issue, I keep thinking “WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!” As I listen to newscasters go on and on about what a sad day this is for Penn State, for college sports and for Joe Pa, I keep thinking, “What a terrible ordeal this has been for all of the children affected by this tragedy.”
As parents, we have a responsibility to protect our children to the extent that we can. Even the best parent has things happen where they question whether they did enough to protect their child. For sports parents, we have a daunting task of trying to support our children in an activity where some other person – a coach – has a huge amount of influence on and authority over our child. We are constantly trying to support our children without going over the line with their coaches.
How can any adult, when confronted with overt abuse against a child, just walk away and allow the abuse to continue? You don’t need any training to know that you need to take immediate action when a when you see a 10 year-old being sexually assaulted by an adult.
Has sports gotten so big that it trumps doing the right thing to save a child? It sure looks that way! As parents, we have to examine what we are doing to contribute to perpetuate this culture. When our child tells us disturbing news about a coach or the sports program, do we hesitate to take action if it may mean the program suffers? Are we more concerned about winning, reputation or a possible scholarship to college than doing the right thing?
I don’t want anyone think I am blaming the parents involved. I can only imagine their devastation over these incidents. This is a wake-up call for all parents to keep a closer eye on their child’s relationship with their coach and trust their gut instinct if anything feels “off.”
The sad thing is that this will cast a long shadow not just on Penn State, but throughout the sports world. I had the pleasure of meeting Coach Paterno this summer and was amazed by his bright spirit and zest for life. Now, a legend in sports has had his illustrious career end on such a low note.
No one knows the whole story but no matter what the truth is, we have heard enough to know that a decision was made to protect “the program” and not the children. We have to really look at a culture where this is happening.
Parents, the ball is in our court! We have to speak up and speak out to make sure that this doesn’t happen again and that children can be safe on and off the field.
In the coming weeks, I will be looking at ways that we can make sports safer for our children. I would love to hear your stories and input on how we make this happen. The buck stops here!