Thursday, November 17, 2011

Football And Molestation

I felt some disquiet about relying on sportswriters as our moral compass about a week ago, and I have become more certain of that since.  Rick Reilly writing how we have to hear the voices of the abused sealed it for me, as Reilly has become intolerable in general, expressing the conventional wisdom of sports fans who take themselves too seriously.  Rather like Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich expressing the opinions of Manhattanites as if that is some profound universal belief of Real Americans.  It may be a good thing that sportswriters want to see the larger picture in sports and do some good in the world, but it's no guarantee that what they pick to get outraged about is our proper focus.

Does ESPN "hearing their voices" actually help these victims?  Granted that enforced silence and refusing to hear has been demonstrated not to work, do we know that the opposite is any better?  Victims of many ills believe that recognition, a platform, a venue, will provide vindication and closure.  I am not sure there is evidence that it does.  It's a temporary feel-good for both speaker and hearer.  Is it any more?  I suspect national attention for one's pain is rather tangential to healing.  If poseurs like Reilly are on board with it, that is ample reason in itself to question whether there is any real good. 

Many football players, and some coaches, are accused of rape every year.  Some of these, to be sure, are opportunistic accusations or dates gone bad, but I have to think - over that big a field many of them have to be true crimes.  We don't seem to have an outpouring of grief and shock over those.  There is some worsening of the Penn State situation because of younger victims and official coverups, but are we certain this is all that odd?  Isn't this what has been hushed up in scout troops, middle schools, YMCA's, children's choirs, little leagues and other youth organizations all these years?  People wanted to pretend there was a concentration of pedophiles among Catholic priests, but I doubt that's going to hold up statistically.  Wolves hide in sheep's clothing because it doesn't do any good to hide in wolves' clothing.  Right?  And there are many varieties of sheep's clothing.

This getting outraged over Penn State has the feel of a national superficial hand-wringing, after which we will go back to ignoring crimes that don't bother us as much.

Related:  The Camp Good News in Sandwich MA which has had the sex scandals is not connected to the Camp Good News in Charlestown, NH in any way.


karrde said...

I seem to remember reading that the concentration of sexual abusers in the Catholic priesthood wasn't far different from the concentration among Protestant ministers.

But that was years ago, and I would have a hard time finding it now...And the similar-concentration thing likely meant that the two rates weren't off by more than a factor of 10.

Dubbahdee said... order to reduce the chances for coaches and youth workers to abuse children, perhaps we should stop organizing their games for them.

Let them organize their own games with the kids within walking distance. They will be their own coaches, their own umpires and their own managers.

Unsupervision may be the safer alternative.