Given the recent, multiple sexual abuse scandals in sports (from Penn State to Syracuse, and now even the Amateur Athletic Union) it's not surprising that this past weekend two major newspapers published stories on the ways in which sports can provide a breeding ground for pedophiles (click here to read The New York Times' take, "Coaching Gives Abusers Opportunity and Trust," and here to read Minnesota's Star Tribune's, "Sports can act as cover for abusers"). Both pieces highlight that the impacts and complications for boys are different than those for girls. The NYT explains that girls are far more likely to be abused, but it is suspected that the abuse of boys is under-reported given the hyper-masculine environment of sports and persistent fear about homosexuality. Still, sexual abuse of young girls by adult males is presumed to happen more often. While I understand the context of sports, sexuality, and sex/gender that the writers refer to, I can't help but observe that it is really the sexual abuse of boys that gets the media attention. This has also been true over the years-- recals the Catholic Church sexual abuse cases and allegations of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts, for example. What's especially interesting to me, in this moment, is that a similar story about sexual (and in this case, also physical) abuse in youth sports has been pretty much overlooked by the mainstream media: that is the story of Don Peters, Doug Boger, and "women's" gymnastics.
I first wrote about this story in early October, long before the Sandusky news broke. But beyond the excellent work of The Orange County Register, which continues to follow developments in the case (for instance, in the past week they reported that a convicted sex offender has regained control of a Colorado gym where he is still around young girls), other major print outlets have virtually ignored this case of abuse. Sure, it warranted a sentences in the Times' coverage on Saturday. But that is not even close to commensurate to the coverage of male abuse victims.
Will it be the sexual abuse of boys that pushes legislators to better protect youth athletes? If so, does this seem right to you? Do you believe boys and girls will be equally protected by whatever changes come in the aftermath of these (youth) sports sexual abuse scandals?