A quick timeline of events that have come to light in recent weeks range from the NHL, includes former Flames coach Bill Peters being relieved of his duties due to racial comments towards Akim Aliu along with alleged physical abuse towards Michal Jordan.
Johan Franzen said former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock verbally assaulted him on the bench, causing a nervous breakdown. Mark Crawford currently under investigation as former players Brent Sopel and Sean Avery alleged being “kicked” and “choked” during NHL games.
In other events in the sporting world, male coaches have a precedence of sexual assault.
Grahm James was a junior hockey coach who in 1989 was named Man of The Year by The Hockey News.
In 1996 former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy and another unnamed player came forward making claims about sexual assault towards James. Which lead to a subsequent arrest. In 1997 James pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
In 2010 NHL retired NHL star Theon Fleury also filed a criminal complaint towards James. In his auto-biography Fleury said the sexual abuse by James he endured at the age of 14 as a member of the Saskatoon Blades drove him to alcohol and drugs during his illustrious 16 year NHL career. James pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to two more years in prison.
Jerry Sandusky was an assistant football coach at Penn’s State University, where he worked under legendary football coach Joe Paterno. For more than 15 years. Sandusky sexually assaulted young men on the team in showers and locker rooms. He was finally convicted in 2012 as a serial sex offender on 45 counts of sexual abuse.
These stories are a few brief examples of the large number of instances of physical, sexual and mental abuse that happen under the leadership of male coaches.
From an early age, Ross says men are taught through contact sport that aggression, toughness, playing with injury and winning at all costs are goals to strive for on playing fields and in real life. Implementing more women in coaching can help break this cycle of toxic masculinity in sport.
“But how do we know anything about woman as coaches or women’s coaching? Women have almost never been given a chance to coach, to lead, to mentor, to inspire.”
– Becki Ross, UBC Professor