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Sexual assault threatens respect in the sports industry

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In the world of sports, respect and good sportsmanship are the norm and basis for every feature of the game, on and off the court.

Whether it be a game, match, tournament or competition, respect is a highly coveted and valued aspect. Players shake hands to sum up all the emotions of competitors in one final gesture and develop bonds with their opponents. All of these interactions can be tied back to respect, sportsmanship and equality. However, this does not seem to be the case anymore.

On Nov. 9, captain of the USA Gymnastics Team and six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman accused the gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse while she was representing USA gymnastics in the Olympics. Nassar, who has been with the team for 30 years and has treated Raisman since she was 15 years old, is now in jail awaiting trial for additional  accusations of sexual assault from over 130 women. Nassar also pleads guilty to charges of child pornography.

Overall, Raisman’s allegation epitomizes the prevalence of sexual abuse in the sports world, where respect, sportsmanship and equality are supposedly championed. In turn, people’s expectations for an equal and civil conduct in sports are no longer accurate because of this immoral behavior.

Raisman’s accusation is not the only one that made headlines. Last week, American soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo accused former Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) president Sepp Blatter of sexual misconduct.  Despite the fact that these allegations have not yet been confirmed, Blatter showed that the sports world is not as civil as people may believe it to be.

Although these accusations against well-known people in the athletic scope may seem unbelievable at first, it is sadly the reality of present-day sports.

Furthermore, amid all these sexual allegations, it is important to consider the psychological damage it causes the athletes.

For instance, professional swimmer Diana Nyad came forth with her sexual abuse experience on Nov. 9. Now age 68, Nyad was only 14 years of age when her coach allegedly started sexually abusing her. These horrific actions from her coach caused Nyad to live with the shame throughout her entire career from the young age of fourteen to her retirement. Altogether, Nyad’s experience with her well-respected coach illustrates the trauma that many athletes go through, even in an environment where there is a high regard placed on righteousness.

As acts of sexual misconducts are brought to awareness and punished, a clear message is sent out: sexual assault is never justified both in or out of athletic events. Ultimately, better awareness and prevention of sexual assaults by major athletic associations will not only lessen future sexual misconduct cases, but also earn back the prestige that the sports industry once had.


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