Tuesday, March 04, 2008

"Protecting" female tennis players

The Women's Tennis Association instituted its new mandatory criminal background checks at the tournament in Dubai last week amid a lot of controversy and backlash. All members of a player's entourage must sign a document agreeing that the tour can do a background check on them. I don't feel as if I have a strong opinion on this practice but I am not pleased with the "protect the women" rhetoric that surrounds it. Scott has assured all concerned parties (some of whom were sitting outside the tournaments last week where the checks were being done in protest while their players brought them food and information) that they will not be looking into financial and tax information. The checks will look for criminal behavior like sexual offenses in an attempt to protect all these young girls.
Why do we think the greatest threat posed by these entourage members is sexual assault? Would a background check have picked up on Peter Graf's financial misdoings? You know the ones that put extreme pressure and attention on his very guarded daughter. Would a background check have picked up anything on some of the abusive fathers that have and do run around the tour? Was there a criminal record on Patty Schnyder's former "coach"--the guru who engaged in various brainwashing techniques? Or how about her current coach and husband Rainer Hoffman who has been convicted of fraud and embezzlement?
Yes, sexual assault on young female athletes is a problem in sports but there are other dangers out there. Other people who engage in criminal activities that also have serious effects on players.

1 comment:

Diane said...

My deep suspicion is that there have been sexual assaults not reported to the public. We hear about the abusive coaches and fathers because it is impossible to keep those stories secret. But I'm guessing there have been incidents with trainers, hangers-on, etc. of which we know nothing.

Rather than background checks, however, I'd like to see the tour treat the younger players as though they had brains, and give them assertiveness training, some legal education and most of all--the courage to report sexual assault.