On Wednesday, April 25, (the day before Penn Relays), there will be a symposium on Athletes and Abuse, 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. in the Class of 1949 Auditorium, Houston Hall. It will closely examine athletes and abuse across the spectrum of sports and ages and will educate the public on the instances of abuse and neglect that run rampant in sport. There will be four panels: one geared towards youth sports; another on high school and college athletics; the third on incidence of abuse and neglect among elite or Olympic-level athletes; and one covering professional sports, from the NFL and MLB to the NBA, NHL and MLS. Leading experts, athletes, officials and policymakers will shine a light on what needs to change in sports culture that puts children at risk. Participants include: keynote speaker Dominique Moceanu, Olympic gold medal gymnast and panelists Doug Glanville, Penn alumnus and former MLB outfielder for the Phillies, Cubs and Rangers; Nancy Hogshead Makar, 3-time Olympic gold medal swimmer; Shellie Pfohl, CEO, U.S. Center for Safesport; and Justin Tuck, former NFL defensive end for the Giants and Raiders.
The pattern of successful coaches with power over aspiring athletes repeats itself at every level: the youth, high school, college, Olympic and professional. Like other arenas where children can be isolated and manipulated by predatory adults, the sports arena presents steep challenges to the protection of children. Sports, at all levels, are the latest frontier in the war against child sex abuse and is the least studied. With 45 million children involved in organized sports, this frontier needs attention.