His students do not like this subject. Isn’t sport as beautiful as it looks?
– No, it’s not good. I do not deny that sports are beautiful, but sports have other faces that are not beautiful. She has many faces. It is a multi-dimensional crystal. When you look at dimensions that are not very beautiful, that’s when people have problems. I don’t know why there are dichotomous thinking mechanisms, either you are good or you are bad, or you are with me or against me. If we don’t hack to make ideas more complex and reality more realistic, we don’t move forward. Sports have very good and bad things. It ruined the lives of so many people, but it also made so many others happy. If we keep doing sports, it’s because it makes a lot of people have fun, but there are a lot of people who suffer, who are traumatized. There is a lot of destruction of life through sports, but not only from institutions. Family members too.
What does the fact that in Spain, in the past three years, three coaches have been sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for the sexual abuse of minors, tell you?
– What matters to us is that sports organizations understand it. The media does their job, some do it more alarmingly than others, and some do it more seriously. Horror gets you nowhere, and it’s the serious jobs that can make the top people in sports take them seriously and don’t think they’re an exact thing.
In this sense, what is the reaction of the unions, for example, when they knock on their doors?
My experience tells me that it takes a long time for sports organizations to take care of you. They try to look the other way, but there comes a time when they can’t look anywhere else. The more cases that are reported in the press, the more useful it is. If one gets out, they don’t care too much, two, the same, but when more cases emerge and make an impact, the sports establishments can no longer look the other way, and the excuse of a rotten apple is no longer relevant to them.
Although the results of the case studies are more than evident, is there still some reluctance to accept the situation?
-yes. The problem is that I don’t know where we’re going now. I’m confused. At first I thought it was about not wanting to do this because they would think there was something on my site. They called me the unions because they wanted to do things, but when we started working, they were gone. I think the boards were concerned with the welfare of the minors in their unions and wanted to do things to make sure they were okay, but if people knew publicly that they were doing training and awareness sessions, they thought something was going on that pushed them to back off. It’s a problem we have, the main barrier, that if you’re proactive in doing these things it’s because something happened, if not why are you doing it.
Remarkably, boys in sports experience more violence than girls…
Studies are what they tell us, which is why more studies are needed. In psychological and physical violence, we believe that there is much more violence towards boys than towards girls. The patriarchy teaches us that the boy should be strict and certainly the coaches believe that physically punishing the boy makes him learn more, be tougher, less soft and less pampered. But when we come to sexual violence, that’s what surprised us, because we thought girls suffer more, as happens outside of sports, but we found a reversal. Outside of sports, girls suffer more from sexual violence, but in sports, sports seem to protect them. We test this claim that sports protect girls, not boys. He is curious. Sports protect less than we think, but if it protects anyone, it’s girls.
Interpersonal violence against children in sport has proven to be a serious and widespread problem, but it appears to be becoming the norm. Is also?
– There is normal violence. Let’s see, there is sexual violence that has not been normalized, and surely, if someone knew about it, they would now denounce it. 15 years ago, we looked the other way and thought we hadn’t seen them and our eyes weren’t trained to see them. Hace quince años, cuando se veía algo raro entre un chico o una chica y el entrenador, a nadie se le ocurría que pudiera haber violencia sexual de tocamientos de genitales, de masturbación, de penetraciones… A nadie se pasar le la podía head. This was an exercise to see how England, the United States, Canada and Australia, which started sounding the alarm and saying: It’s happening, there are coaches sexually abusing underage athletes. It is something that is done, and it is not out of the norm, and it is done in a not very big dimension, but it happens, because there are athletes who reveal it when they grow up. At the Olympics, one or two high-profile athletes always come out, by the dropper, when they explain their sporting history, and when they’re almost done, they explain those sexual abuses.
It’s a fanciful question, but is there a solution?
(Laughter) From my point of view, violence will never be eliminated, there will always be, but I think we can reduce it and that might interest me. Like we said, 78% have experienced some type of violence, especially the most traumatic ones, and I think we can reduce it. If we reduce the number of times to insult a person, we will reduce the chances of, among other things, touching the genitals … Everything will be relevant. The more we reduce violence, the less we will reduce those who are no longer revealed to the same extent, but who are there and are more traumatic.
Another topical phenomenon is the quarrels between parents on the football fields. To what are they owed? is there a solution?
-I don’t know. The sport educates, but the competition defends it with its teeth and nails. It’s the same split issue we talked about before. Is sports recreational or competitive? And I ask myself other questions. Can you compete without violence? Can you be competitive without destroying lives? But the message that is being defended is that to get the most out of the competition, the athlete has to become manic, has to suffer from anorexia, and has to vomit almost at the end of training to know he’s getting better. It is all these beliefs about training techniques that do so much harm, because they tell you that if there is no blood, if there is no suffering, you will not reach the top. If we don’t change that paradigm that you can’t get to the top without suffering, there’s nothing we can do. So let’s go down that hill. Why do we have to set it so high? If we all lower it and no one vomits, for example, after a workout, no one will develop anorexia… Oh no, but sports won’t sell the scene to the media. Then we’ll have to create robots for this amazing sport so we can have a good time. It’s like a doping issue. What a delusion! But if it is promoted by sports institutions, through the media, by sponsors, by families … it is promoted by everyone, because to get to the top, you either cheat or you don’t. There is no more.
Is it time to give a warning message?
– Don’t. definitely. Quite the opposite. The message isn’t worrisome, it’s that the gang is down, that we keep our eyes open, that we train our eyes and ears to pay attention to this violence, that some violence can be normalized, more standards, but they don’t. Leave from violence and do not stop creating small traumas in children, especially in terms of thinking that sports do not, because sports have such a good side. But no, this happens in sports, and coaches and coaches have to worry that it doesn’t. I often hear I yell at him to shoot better or punish him for 100 free throws so he can shoot better. truly? Yelling at him to make him shoot better? It is something that also happens, for example, in music: you either practice or you don’t become a well-known pianist. He is in the community. It’s very complicated. The idea would be to ask the kids if they want to get to the top. Some will tell you yes, but others will tell you no, they just want to play with their friends, but that’s not cool. If you don’t step up, you’re nobody, they underestimate you, and they look down on you. They don’t teach you to think that you can decide to come play and have a good time.
Did it feel weird to reveal all of this?
– Yes, often, especially with sports organizations, federations, CSD, in the Generalitat … Often they told me: you are against sports, you do not like it. I’ve been playing sports since I was 6, have studied INEF and do research on sports. Yes, I heard it many times. But this happened to Taine Vertumene in Belgium. She presented the results of the case studies and the Twitter burn with coaches and managers of sports institutions. They underestimated her and mocked her.
Have you ever thought about throwing in the towel?
-yes. Sometimes I think the road ends. It’s tiring because of situations, but also when you know the stories, when you deal with the issues of the survivors, when you empathize with them and analyze those stories and that’s very difficult. It’s hard to get out of that if you want to do research. This experience was more quantitative, but with another programme, VOICES, that I was interviewing, it got to me more, and it was hard for me to remake myself. When you see that people are grateful, it’s fine, but when you later go to the sports institutions and they close the door on you, they say no and they don’t want to open their eyes, it makes you want to send everything there