When you think about a coach, what comes into your mind?
Mentor. Motivator. Teacher.
No one wants to associate a coach as an abuser.
But unfortunately, it happens in any level, even in the elite and Olympic level. Currently, there are accusations within the 19 members of U.S. Olympic Speed Skating team involving the Head Coach Jae Su Chun of verbal, physical, and psychological abuse. According to one of the skaters involved, Chun "slammed one of the team's top stars against a wall and then hit him, repeatedly." The athletes involved have filed a formal compliant and have also filed a police report. Both reports are currently under full investigations. Chun has been placed on leave as the accusations are being investigated by the US Speedskating Assocation and USOC. The whole incident could also be sent to arbitration before the Speed-skating World Cup in order to resolve the issues from the complaint.
Any abuse creates a very negative working environment for anyone. The abuser brings intimidation, power and creates an invisible role of superiority. The person who being abused feels some sort of lack of power, fear, and control of the situation. The only way that someone can get out from under the abuse to learn to take control, report abuse, and learn to fight.
I believe that the 19 Olympic speed-skaters have an advantage because they have strength within numbers. They have the ability to feel not alone while the legal and criminal justice system does their job to investigate the abuse. It is important not feel like you are alone. It is important to have a very strong support system. It is also important to get help working through the effects of the abuse by seeing a licensed counselor. It is also important to move forward with their lives and not focus on the abuse.
I applaud the speed-skaters for taking charge of the situation. I believe that they are sending a strong message to coaches and athletes everywhere that abuse within athletics will not be tolerated period.