The truth about sexual assault in sports

Photo Credit: Vox

Until recently, the only time the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, which has been known about for years, got any news coverage whatsoever was when a “high-profile” gymnast accused him of sexual assault. But let’s be honest — it’s gymnastics, not football. Unless you’re like really into that or really into the Olympics when it takes place once every four years, “household name” is a somewhat of a stretch for anyone in the sport.

But now that this scandal, which Michigan State University and U.S.A. Gymnastics covered up for years and years and years, is in the national headlines with Nassar set to be sentenced (in addition to the 60 years he got last month for possession of child pornography) and testimonies being read, something else happens — maybe it’s a distraction, maybe it’s a coincidence, but it happens regardless.

In the one week that this scandal finally gets the coverage it deserves from the mainstream media after decades, HBO decides to release the trailer for “Paterno”, a movie set for release in the spring about the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal which the Penn State football coach failed to report — many, many, many, many years ago.

Seems pretty convenient, doesn’t it? Why not detract focus from a far, far, far more recent scandal in which there are three times as many victims and at least three times as many organizations involved in the cover-up to get the public to focus on a different sexual abuse scandal that took place in the 1970s and has been dealt with to a great extent already several years ago?

Which name is more recognizable: Jerry Sandusky or Larry Nassar? How about Joe Paterno or Kathie Klages?

For some reason, I just can’t see a movie coming out called “Klages” within the next decade. Pretty sure I’m not the only one. And if you don’t know who that is, that just proves my point.

Bottom line, the public is spoon-fed issues to care about. I don’t have a reason for that, especially in this case, aside of the obvious one — money. Everyone knows football is far more popular than gymnastics, so the potential to profit from something such as a sexual abuse scandal is far greater.

That said, a sport’s popularity shouldn’t really matter when the media are labeling the sexual assault issue as sexual assault and nothing more. Clearly there is more to it than they are letting on, and what’s worse is that it may be even deeper than money.


-Asher Fair