First Penn State coaches are embroiled in sexual abuse scandal, and now Syracuse. I’ll spare everyone the details, since if you don’t already know them by now, you’ve probably avoided through an act of personal will.
Suffice it to say it’s ugly. Horrific. The effects of such abuses will affect the lives of victims forever.
So is there any good whatsoever to be found amid the darkness of such sexually morbid exploitation? Maybe I’m being naively optimistic, but I’d like to think so.
It’s not as if one sex abuse scandal triggered a chain of other crimes. On the contrary, I’d like to think that the very act of dragging the Penn state scandal out into the light led to others being emboldened to speak about similar wrongdoing elsewhere. And I’d suggest the same dynamic has taken hold in recent years in the Catholic Church.
Of course it’s easy to vilify the Church for its obfuscation and willing blindness in the face of heinous violations of its own faithful; it certainly seems as if such problems are suddenly everywhere. But it’s important to keep in mind that many of the cases being brought forward now are years – even decades – old. It’s only once others were brave enough to speak the truth about their situation that fellow victims felt able to do the same. They realized they were not alone, and they saw that when the victims spoke, people really listened.
Although it’s unpleasant to have such ugly patterns emerge in such short order, such a reality check is necessary on two levels. First, it’s the only way many of the perpetrators would ever be stopped, and the only way to dissuade potential predators from lapsing into similar behavior. Second, having their pain acknowledged is the only way many feel they can find a path to healing, and perhaps even reconciliation.
So are there even more sordid stories of sexual abuse or the like in the world of collegiate sports? It wouldn’t be surprising. Consider the similarities between them and the church:
There’s a mystique around both that is attractive to many.
Both coaches and priests hold tremendous power, both in the public eye and with respect to individuals.
They are gatekeepers of sorts.
It’s generally assumed that their intentions are good, so often their power goes unchecked.
If there’s any redemption in the ongoing saga that continues to unfold daily around collegiate sports and the gross liberties some coaches are taking with their position to exploit the innocent, it’s that the wrong has finally been named. It’s been brought into the light.
And though the process is painful, we should all pray that the power of such honesty gives strength to others still hiding, humiliated and broken, in the shadows.
Christian Piatt is an author, editor, speaker, musician and spoken word artist. He co-founded Milagro Christian Church in Pueblo, Colorado with his wife, Rev. Amy Piatt, in 2004. Christian is the creator and editor of “Banned Questions About The Bible” and “Banned Questions About Jesus.” He has a memoir on faith, family and parenting being published in early 2012 called “PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.” For more information about Christian, visit www.christianpiatt.com, or find him on Twitter or Facebook.