What Has Happened to Accountability in Athletic Organizations?

By Dr. Jack Singer

Sports Pyschologist Dr. Jack Singer discusses the Coach Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandalThis new and startling revelation about Coach Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State Defensive Coordinator who was arrested Saturday on 40 criminal counts of child sex abuse, is yet another example of “Let’s hope this will just go away by not making it public.”

Was there ever a concern for the victims in this case by the university and those within the football program? Was there ever a concern in that organization that by not informing the police, that the perpetrator was free to carry out his demented desires with untold other victims?

University administrators were aware that a graduate assistant had seen Sandusky attacking a young boy in the team’s locker room shower in 2002. However, even though Sandusky was prohibited from holding youth sports camps on campus in 2002, he continued to hold them through 2008 under his Sandusky Associates company at the university’s Behrend campus, just outside Erie. Further, it is being reported by a person familiar with Sandusky’s relationship with Penn State that the former coach long maintained an office in the East Area Locker building which is across the street from the Penn State football team’s building, and was on campus as recently as week ago working out.

We see this all the time:  athletes or coaches with addictive issues are protected so that they can continue to perform for the team; domestic violence is almost an acceptable behavior if the athlete is one of the stars of the team; coaches who abuse their athletes describe their victims as wimps, or worse (e.g., “This is nothing.  You should have seen how my coaches treated me!”).

Why is it that the everyday Joe is accountable, but many star athletes and coaches (as well as celebrities in any arena) get a free pass, unless the media get wind of their behaviors)? Think Lindsay Lohan here.

It’s time to make every individual, regardless of his/her popularity, power or importance to the team accountable for their behaviors.

The Michael Vick’s of sports have paid for their deeds, but I fear that they represent only the tip of the iceberg.  Furthermore, these cover-ups tarnish the image of the majority of athletes and coaches who lead clean lives, tending to their families, and appreciating the gifts that the Almighty has bestowed on them.

Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Licensed and Certified Clinical & Sport Psychologist

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