You know when your favorite app updates and you are like oh no, I was just getting used to the old version, and it takes three months to get used to the changes and it updates again? Welcome to Safe Sport.
At least I feel that way about Safe Sport. I grumbled in the very beginning a few years ago because it was handled poorly by our equestrian federation, never explained properly, shoved down our throats like we were the problem, but eventually look what happened! We all grew used to the change, took the training, and it is in our lives whether we like it or not.
I actually became tired of hearing about it once I started to accept it, and over the years preferred to tune the dreary subject out of my otherwise occupied mind. I felt like I ‘adulted’ by taking the training without complaint, and patted myself on the back for my maturity. No offense to victims, but since no information about cases is ever privy to the regular people, do we have to go to every town hall and annual meeting to talk about it some more?
In the background noise, I thought I heard the center for Safe Sport make an alarming amount of mistakes. It appeared there were more investigations for people retired from sport, close to retirement, or even already dead. I occasionally checked the primary list of offenders, heard countless stories of irrelevant accusations involving adults having affairs with other adults, not minors, and wondered if investigators actually knew what they are doing. I winced hard at the suicide of John Coughlin and the complete shut down of his investigation, like now you won’t investigate a dead guy? Explain, please. Oh wait, two different organizations? Ugh, who can keep it straight and why should we have to? Or is it just one organization?
And what a colossal waste of time and money to go after someone like Claire Bronfman. When is the last time she put on a pair of boots? I mean riding boots. Hooker boots are different. She was so busy wrapped up in her weird provocative cult, I highly doubt she was intending to rent stalls at WEF and rent a Grand Prix horse for the season. Like what? She doesn’t even have results on a horse since 2005.
From time to time I would see serious grumblings from people in other sport disciplines and followed the erratic behavior of the USOC and the poor performance of other governing bodies to address sexual assault from coaches and thought, well, we know one thing for sure, US Equestrian wants to separate themselves from all the other governing bodies and prove they can demand better of their members. Murray Kessler has made his agenda abundantly clear.
What isn’t always clear is, who is drawing the lines in the sand? We don’t know which requirements come from USEF and which ones are handed down from the USOC or the SS.
This paragraph out of the new Safe Sport Policies sure hit a nerve and it is prefaced with “USEF recommends the following components” so….
Prohibited electronic communication Applicable Adults with authority over minor athletes should not maintain private social media connections with unrelated minor athletes and such Applicable Adults should not accept new personal page requests on social media platforms from amateur athletes who are minors, unless the Applicable Adult has a fan page, or the contact is deemed as celebrity contact vs. regular contact. Existing social media connections on personal pages with minor athletes should be discontinued.
Once I finally had a chance to read through the four hundred paragraphs of the new SS standards, I thought well, this is very Un-American. Thoughts of a former regime came to mind pretty quick, however.
Did anyone ask junior members or minors how they felt about the new guidelines coaches are supposed to follow? If a panel of juniors said yes, this was our idea, I would respect them whole-heartedly and say ok, good job kids, if this is what you want, I delete you.
Does anyone else find it super alarming we are supposed to stifle lines of communication? Like right now?
Sure, let’s communicate less from now on, even though we just made a broad announcement for ALL victims to come forward with their #metoo grievances…. I can’t even.
Part of me is probably relieved. Now the pressure to be a mandatory reporter is completely off my shoulders, because now I am going to be encouraged to talk less to any minors who might be in real trouble. Good, I hated that burden….Give it to someone else. My hands have been washed, thank you very much. I mean really. The word ‘shortsighted’ comes to mind. Again.
Now I would like to see gender segregated restrooms, so minors can have no chance of running into the loo with me, can I make a rule change proposal for that? Juniors can have their own restroom, I don’t even care if all the adult restrooms are co-ed, since I can pee in front of anyone now.
Oh, and thanks for giving me a week to digest how my future behavior needs to follow this shitty protocol. If you had told me to start practicing this new mindset for the summer and initiate said practice in the fall I would have most likely been ok, but now I am just annoyed. You all didn’t even tell me if this was a recommendation coming from agencies above you or if it is you. I feel like we should be expecting a clarification email any day now.
Our equestrian Federation wants to have their cake and eat it too, but I am not on board with their latest sly little way to pull the rug out from horse trainers with their ‘recommended components’. Have they even thought about coaches at boarding schools?
I never used to believe there are more bad people than good, but maybe I am really just naive. Maybe the horse world is too unbalanced with thieves, cheaters, drug offenders and molesters. Personally, I would look to a governing body president to clear up that assumption, but maybe our leader is also tuning out the complaining of the good people with an otherwise occupied mind?