SafeSport alleges "culture of grooming and abuse" in U.S. figure skating

Lara111

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This was discussed a bit in one of the previous Coughlin threads. Potentially, it's not just age difference that is a problem. There is some thought that there's a general power imbalance between males and females in the partnered disciplines--ice dance and, especially, pairs skating. There tend to be fewer male partners available than females (at least in North America). This could inherently give males more power, and potentially the ability to abuse that power. Not just in a sexual way, but in other ways as well, such as by verbal abuse, lack of proper regard for their partner's safety, lack of willingness to overlook her faults/mistakes/injuries/flaws, financial exploitation of the partner and her family, and/or greater willingness on the part of coaches to overlook bad behavior from the male.

Obviously this is a very loaded and tough topic, but if there's a problem, it's better to recognize it than otherwise.




I kind of interpreted it that way as well. Although I'm not sure what if any power SafeSport has to create larger consequences.




The article is mostly based off the actual statement from SafeSport. Which apparently didn't include any specifics.
I think when SafeSport is not clear in their communications it creates a basis for all these assumptions i.e, ''power of male partners'' etc. this is so untrue. It is as difficult to find a good female partner as it is to find a good male partner in ice dance at least.
 

MacMadame

Doing all the things
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Which has not always been good and with USFS starting a feud with SafeSport, I fear everyone will just double down. :(
They already doubled-down from the moment when Coughlin's case was reported on by Brennan and TSL.

Also, to state the obvious, it’s not necessarily or even often going to be an inappropriate situation if you have two pairs skaters or ice dancers of similar age who decide they have feelings for each other and decide to date. If they try to take that stance—that a pair or dance team should never date—that’s taking things about 9 bridges too far.
This is a strawman argument. Nothing SafeSport has done up until now suggest that this is what they are talking about.

I agree. Even if they do, however, I don't expect the results to be satisfying to pretty much anybody.
It certainly won't be satisfying to the people who were absolutely convinced that if SafeSport were to continue it's investigation that it would have exonerated John if it doesn't exonerate him. For those people I say, be careful what you wish for.

I think it's even more important that USFS hire a reputable and independent firm with appropriate experience to make recommendations for best practices going forward. . . And then actually implement them.
They should do both.
 

IceAlisa

discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado
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If USFSA doesn't have the money to hire an independent firm to finish the investigation, they could start a GoFundMe. I would contribute
 

overedge

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I think when SafeSport is not clear in their communications it creates a basis for all these assumptions i.e, ''power of male partners'' etc. this is so untrue. It is as difficult to find a good female partner as it is to find a good male partner in ice dance at least.

I interpreted this as referring to difficulty in finding partners just because of the numbers, not because of mismatches in ability or anything else. Personally I can think of a few female ice dancers (not elite/international) who put up with crappy treatment from their male partners because they knew that there were no other guys around for them to skate with. That's not as in, no other guys who were the right height or test level or whatever - there were literally no other guys for them to skate with.

Maybe solo dance will do something to change this culture in ice dance, but there's really no such thing as solo pairs skating (other than singles ;) )
 
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Lara111

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I interpreted this as referring to difficulty in finding partners just because of the numbers, not because of mismatches in ability or anything else. Personally I can think of a few female ice dancers (not elite/international) who put up with crappy treatment from their male partners because they knew that there were no other guys around for them to skate with. That's no other guys who were the right height or test level or whatever - there were literally no other guys for them to skate with.

Maybe solo dance will do something to change this culture eventually, but there's really no such thing as solo pairs skating (other than singles ;) )
Fusar Poli epic staredown at her partner says it all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY08tShyvAo I know girls with a similar attitude towards their partners.
 

UGG

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If people have a problem with whole thing, I don’t know what to say. Safe Sport is protecting people, they aren’t picking names out of hats and laughing while ruining lives. There is some female swimming coach who was just suspended and she is not allowed to be around minors and her name has been released. If safe sport sucks so bad, maybe go advocate for her too. Or advocate for every person who’s name is released in a safe sport investigation because it isn’t fair to them 🙄 Why is is only not fair to John Coughlin? Start advocating for all the poor people being accused of sexual misconduct if the system is so flawed 🙄 sarcasm off... the people whining about this sound ridiculous. Actual PEOPLE reported abuse. Should safe sport just pat them on the head and chuckle and tell them to come back later when they accuse someone better like Tonya Harding? Basically everyone in skating is beloved to some extent, except her. From a fan perspective, there really are no bad guys but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
 
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starrynight

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I just read Phil Hersh’s article which is easier to understand than Brennan’s.

I just don’t know how SafeSport can release a very vague statement (with a huge sound bite in it) about there being a problem which sounds by their words to be extremely serious, provide zero particulars about what the problem actually is and then just close its file.

SafeSport seems to be a bit of a paper tiger in terms of actually being able to achieve anything in practical terms.
 
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PRlady

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"Training and education" only work if people are willing to listen, and/or if they take what they learned back to their workplace and apply it. Look at all the large companies who have some sort of mandatory training on issues like diversity or harassment - and IME there are always people who sit through the training, check all the boxes, and then go back to the workplace and act exactly how they did before. I can see the same kind of thing happening in skating, with the usual excuses: "they don't understand how our sport works", "I don't [harass/discriminate] so I don't have to pay attention to this, and I'm insulted that I have to attend", etc. etc.

I know that SafeSport has limited resources, but it needs to be able to :kickass: more than on a "case-by-case basis".

There are several studies demonstrating that harassment training actually causes more bad behavior, because it suggests that men are powerful and women are victims and those attitudes are stronger than the warnings and thou-shall-nots. The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

I just don’t know how SafeSport can release a very vague statement (with a huge sound bite in it) about there being a problem which sounds by their words to be extremely serious, provide zero particulars about what the problem actually is and then just close its file.

SafeSport seems to be a bit of a paper tiger in terms of actually being able to achieve anything in practical terms.

I’m not sure what they can do. As a private entity whose only power comes from the compromised sports organizations that hire them, SS isn’t designed to overrule the governing bodies of the various sports. And I think USFS is way overdue in exhuming and trying to fix the bad power dynamics in the sport, but it’s run by people who grew up inside the culture and have a stake in the status quo.
 

Artistic Skaters

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LeafOnTheWind

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From Phil Hersh's article:

“Many U.S. Figure Skating athletes and members have expressed concern to U.S. Figure Skating leadership over the Center’s actions and shared that they have lost trust and confidence in how the Center processes allegations of abuse,” the USFS letter said.

US Figure Skating said they lost faith in Safe Sport. Well, I have lost faith in US Figure Skating because everything they've done has been about protecting themselves and making it clear that victims are not safe coming forward.
 

starrynight

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The problem with this sad situation is that it has been entirely dominated by rumours, which achieves nothing and I think is counterproductive.

I suppose all that’s left as an option is for the USFSA to start their own internal investigation to firstly pinpoint what the problem actually is in respect of there being wider issues in the sport and then prepare some guidelines as to how to respond.
 

Artistic Skaters

Drawing Figures
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Since SafeSport practices are being discussed, there is also this article from last week.

*** Comprehensive list of banned coaches finally published, but not by SafeSport :
https://www.usatoday.com/story/spor...-banned-coaches-finally-available/2945056002/
For the first time in the U.S. Olympic movement, an organization has compiled a comprehensive list of banned coaches and others.

Except it wasn’t the organization created to protect young athletes, the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which has been working on a full online list since last summer.

Instead, the website greatcoach.com went live this week by combining online lists from SafeSport, national sports governing bodies and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Users must first register but the site is free to use.
 

bladesofgorey

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harassment training actually causes more bad behavior, because it suggests that men are powerful and women are victims
If you are basing this on this article, although the clickbait title says this, the actual opinion piece points out certain specific types of harassment training that have been found to be extremely effective- mainly around bystander training- which based on certain coach's public displays re: this case USFSA is in dire need of, and would do a lot to hopefully counteract the toxic culture Safe Sport alludes to.
 

UGG

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I am just wondering why people are mad at safe sport and not the people who reported the allegations? . Safe sport didn’t make them up, they investigated to ensure safety. Question for the people who feel John is a victim somehow...what is your opinion of the people who came forward to report abuse?
 

libecha

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The problem with this sad situation is that it has been entirely dominated by rumours, which achieves nothing and I think is counterproductive.

I suppose all that’s left as an option is for the USFSA to start their own internal investigation to firstly pinpoint what the problem actually is in respect of there being wider issues in the sport and then prepare some guidelines as to how to respond.

This is only an option if they hire a reputable outside firm to conduct the internal investigation and make it truly independent, with publicly available results. Otherwise it's like appointing Vladimir Lenin to head an inquiry into why the Romanovs never came back from their holiday to Yekaterinburg in 1918.
 

PRlady

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If you are basing this on this article, although the clickbait title says this, the actual opinion piece points out certain specific types of harassment training that have been found to be extremely effective- mainly around bystander training- which based on certain coach's public displays re: this case USFSA is in dire need of, and would do a lot to hopefully counteract the toxic culture Safe Sport alludes to.

I’m referring to this https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0021886301372001 and others: my organization had to do a deep dive into harassment training issues last fall and the scholarly research on what it accomplishes is not reassuring.
 

Oreo

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If I were a young teenage male skater, there's no way in a million years I would go into pairs skating. The stress of throwing and catching and lifting your partner in the middle of a routine that could be perhaps construed as stepping over the line would just be too much. And never mind that you're supposed to present chemistry to the judges and audience--that could be misconstrued as well.
 

Tinami Amori

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Thank you very much! i read it, two times. I still have questions. Again, even if english is not my first language, i understand the dictionary meaning of "grooming", i can assure you. But i am still not clear what it means fully in this context. If you don't mind few more questions:

Q1: First few "givens": in a situation when
- both people are of legal age;
- no violence/coercion/blackmail;
- neither one tries to take over another's inheritance/money/involve in financial scheme;
- manipulate one into prostitution/drug smuggling or selling/any other form of illegal activity;
- let alone planning some kind of physical harm to the other person.....

What is the difference then between what is called "grooming", and "pro-active, non-traditional, inventive methods of seducing/chasing/romancing"?

Q2: (again, given the "givens") given the example the "coming out in a robe after the shower" scenario: What's wrong with luring "your sex interest" to your apartment and finding a way to give him/her a peekaboo at your body? in towel or a robe after the shower? leaving a door slightly open so he can see you "changing your shirt, while wearing a sexy bra"? a guy wearing tight jeans where you can see his religion? a girl wearing a low cut or a see-through shirt?
a secretary trying to seduce her boss?
https://previews.magnoliabox.com/corbis/mb_hero/42-20041434/MUS-FAPC1114_850.jpg
a pool cleaner trying to get the home mistress into bed?
https://www.robotbutt.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Pool-Boy-e1530193526321.jpg

Q3: is scenario in "Gaslight" also "grooming"? He was trying to set her up to think she is crazy... Or is it called something else if they were already married and he was not after sex as a goal?

Q4: is "grooming" strictly a word for "wanting sex" from that person? or is it an alternative word for "any form of manipulation"?

Ever heard of google?
Yes, i have.... and obviously "google" is not in touch with SafeSport
https://www.yelp.com/c/sf/groomer

... and now you go and put "grooming" into google, and tell me how many cute dogs do you get... :p
 
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Tinami Amori

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@Tinami Amori Does this help? I know it’s Wikipedia but it might be a bit more understandable.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_grooming
Thank you. it says "child grooming", and that's wrong and illegal, i know. i am asking if this term is applicable in a case of two adults? (plus gave a list of givens, no criminal intent, no violence, etc.).

In a film "Some like it hot" (edited), is there "grooming"? TC pretends to be a woman, and a confidant to MM, gets into her trust, develops friendship; then pretends to be a rich boy and makes her fall in love with him. Is that "grooming"?
 
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UGG

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If I were a young teenage male skater, there's no way in a million years I would go into pairs skating. The stress of throwing and catching and lifting your partner in the middle of a routine that could be perhaps construed as stepping over the line would just be too much. And never mind that you're supposed to present chemistry to the judges and audience--that could be misconstrued as well.

Well if the male skater behaves appropriately, there will be nothing to report from the partner. It really doesn’t seem like it should be that hard to not be a preditor or abuser....or are saying you believe female skaters report fake chemistry and lifts as abuse?
 

PRlady

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I started watching A Very English Scandal this evening and the grooming by the powerful Hugh Grant character of the pitifully vulnerable young man was so awful I just turned it off. (And he was not a minor.) Stream the first episode, Tinami, for a really graphic portrayal of the process
 

aftershocks

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I sometimes wonder if at some point they just won't have pairs skating anymore. Now that the rules have been loosened with ice dance, it is taking on some more pairs-like qualities without the high risk factor, and there are so few pairs entrants compared to the other disciplines.

:huh:

Maybe there won't be skating anymore as we know it. :drama: Certainly, it's not really figure skating anymore. It's acrobatic skating.

For the foreseeable future, I think we will continue to have pairs skating, which is quite different from ice dance! And in fact, both disciplines are benefiting from a synergy and a cross-fusion of ideas and energy between the two disciplines.

The whole issue of how people treat each other is cultural and societal, as well as specific to each individual sport. Awareness and education are what is needed, not fingerpointing and scorched-earth blaming and haranguing. Personal responsibility, respect, forgiveness and coming together in the best interests of our communities and families are also sorely missing throughout all parts of our society today.

From Hersh's article, I think this makes sense coming from USFS:
“'While the Center [for SafeSport] may believe any threat has been mitigated by Mr. Coughlin’s death, the lack of a completed investigation has produced great uncertainty... Further, the lack of a completed investigation has allowed for innuendo and continued speculation to dominate the conversation instead of a resolution of the facts.'”

It looks as if SafeSport is implicating figure skating as a whole, not just in the U.S. So it stands to reason that it's not just responses and responsible action by USFS that are necessary, but also by the ISU.
 
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AnnM

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If I were a young teenage male skater, there's no way in a million years I would go into pairs skating. The stress of throwing and catching and lifting your partner in the middle of a routine that could be perhaps construed as stepping over the line would just be too much. And never mind that you're supposed to present chemistry to the judges and audience--that could be misconstrued as well.

This is quite possibly the worst take. Seriously? 😑
 

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