Sportswriters Are Standing Up, Not Standing By

microphone sportsfield

As the facts continue to unfold in the Penn State and Syracuse abuse cases, the only good news may be that the country has reached a tipping point on the subject of child sexual abuse. Thousands of voices have denounced the silence that prevailed for years inside two of the country’s top sports franchises.

And do you know who we think is doing a great job fueling the public conversation? Sportswriters.

We’re impressed by guys like Mitch Albom at Detroit Free Press, Greg Couch at Fox Sports, Mike Lupica at The New York Daily News and Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated. They could have circled the wagons to protect the legacies of Penn State’s coach Joe Paterno and Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim, kept an editorial distance, and reported the facts with complacent indifference. Instead, they acknowledged the shame and called for dismissal of the higher-ups who turned a blind eye while children were betrayed. They’ve been willing to stand up for accountability, even if it meant that a university president would stand down.

As we thank the many sportswriters who have been willing to address the problem, we also want to suggest some of the solutions, including our program Coaching Boys Into Men. We enlist athletic coaches as positive role models to deliver messages of respect and non-violence to high school athletes in an effort to build healthy relationships. A key component of the curriculum is teaching young men that as bystanders they must speak out when witnessing abuse by adults or peers.

Another solid program, The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Model is a gender violence, bullying, and school violence prevention approach that encourages young men and women from all socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds to take on leadership roles in their schools and communities.