USA Gymnasts must stay strong. My daughter could be next

usa gymnastWhen my daughter Celine trotted off to college I made a statement she didn’t quite understand.

She wanted to know what my biggest fear was for her in school. I said my biggest fear was her becoming friends with a football player. Sometimes friendships turn into assumptions. Football players are the big men on campus and many believe they can have sexual relations with any woman whether it is consensual

or not.

Even if the woman says “no” she means yes because she should be honored to be with the star running back or quarterback.

If Celine were raped or otherwise sexually assaulted she have to answer questions as “Why was she wearing a short skirt?” or “Was her top too low?”

In other words did she get what she deserved?

I as  a dad could not handle that.

This brings us to the Outside the Lines investigation on Michigan State where it appears that the school hid facts about sexual assault and protected the athletes from the law. I’ve heard stories like this about several schools, but when you investigate you are stone-walled by officials and shut out from doing your job.

I’ve heard this several times over the years. “Why do you want to ruin a young man’s life?”

I counter that by saying a life has already been ruined. When an athlete rapes a woman you don’t just wipe your hands of the incident and everything disappears. The woman lives with that the rest of her life.

We’ve seen suicides, eating disorders, trust issues and sometimes these women have a tough time having a stable relationship afterwards.

Besides, if Celine reported an incident she won’t be believed and would have much of the school against her. That’s why women go months and sometimes years without saying something. And I’m certain many of them were scolded and asked “Are you sure you want to do this?” Why do you want to ruin a young man’s life?”

Unfortunately what we’ve heard about Michigan State is common place. Schools want to protect the team and the brand above else. But when you handle things as poorly as State does and there is this much information hitting the news you risk having the entire thing blown up.

The women that blew the whistle on Larry Nassar are being called brave women and heroes now. But they were not called that years ago. They were disrupting the gravy train known as USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.

Here is what I will call them. Trailblazers. Please continue to hang together and speak out because my daughter could be next. So now when a woman reports being sexually abused at any school the school, police department and athletic department will launch real investigations and punish those that did wrong.

I worry about my kid because she is on the other side of the country at Stanford. But it was soothing to hear that one night she was in a different dorm and there were rumors of a predator near the building. The kids would not let her walk home and forced her to spend the night with them.

How many times have we heard an athlete being benched for a meaningless game against Idaho or Alcorn State for breaking team rules. And we never find out why he was punished.

How many times do you believe that was for a sex crime that is being swept under the rug?

I want schools to be transparent because my daughter could be next and this is a father that won’t walk the company line.You damn right I will ruin a young man’s life if he ruins my daughter’s life.


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Published by terryfoster8

I am a 58 year old retired sports journalist, husband and father of two living outside of Detroit in search of his next big adventure in life.

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