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  • Freddy Ramirez



Direct from the Safe Sport website: "The U.S. Center for SafeSport is an independent nonprofit committed to ending all forms of abuse in sport. This includes bullying, harassment, hazing, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual misconduct and abuse. ...The Center provides services to sport entities on abuse prevention techniques, policies and programs and provides a safe, professional and confidential place for individuals to report sexual abuse within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements."

Recently, USA Today published an article that began with a video clip of a Senate sub-committee hearing where former athletes criticized the national governing bodies for their sport as well as the USOC and others for failing to prevent and stop sexual abuse. Then, the very first paragraph of the article reads as follows, "The national governing body of racquetball has fired its chief executive after he faced a suspension and probation from the U.S. Center for SafeSport, the independent organization that seeks to end all forms of abuse in sports."

Direct from a message from USA Racquetball to its members: "While it would be imprudent to discuss the details of any employee's separation, we want to assure our members that we have acted, and will always endeavor to act, professionally and responsibly in the best interests of USA Racquetball, our members, and our sport."

This is all that "officially" is available regarding this matter. These messages both introduce an internal situation within USA Racquetball and imply its involves something as serious as sexually abuse. The organization is charged with the growth and facilitation of racquetball for the United States and in one moment highlighted as sinister to the outside world.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Unofficially, or if you consider what is available to read on Reddit and Facebook unofficial, some other perspectives are available. The result is a swarm of opinions, personal observations, defenses, divisiveness, subtle accusations of people not directly related to the matter and, predictably, conflated reasoning on why the sport is in dire straits in the US. These to me point to some subtle, underlying personal interests that have possibly opened the door to a tie-in on the wrong-side of the national #MeToo movement. This could cause irreparably damaging the sport as we know it here in the US, where it is already-mostly running on fumes.

Racquetball is a close-proximity endeavor that fosters personal contact between people. It is in these moments that we get to know each other, grow with each other, in some cases work with each other, choose each other as friends, (in some cases relationships), all while we enjoy something we love to do. This very fact is often the basis that people make the decision to, in some way, work, volunteer and/or make a career of keeping racquetball going.

For those of us who fall into this group, the way the "devil in the details" works here is comfort. It slowly introduces comfort when we are close enough to a situation for an extended period of time and we begin to assess our own worth, covet what we see or feel a particular sense of pride. Comfort then sets in. Comfort enough to believe you know what's best. Comfort enough to relax ethically. Comfort enough to bypass a larger perspective in lieu of personal bias or personal interest. Comfort enough to believe you are thinking progressively while holding on to certain ways of doing things. OR, comfort enough to put your interest above what and who you see directly in front of you. In our case, people we have chosen and committed to work with, for the ethical and proper betterment of racquetball. People involved here became comfortable in their positions ethically.

Personal take: One thing I have to remind myself continually, being involved as I am, is the overall focus of what I am working towards. It's a constant reminder to look at what is in front of me with the proper ethical respect and to always seek transparency, because I know very well that I'm not always right. I have to "self-check" all the time, because I have self-interest. Both consciously and unconsciously. (Consider this post a serious self-check for me.) Respecting everyone in our group, regardless of what side of an issue they may be on. That is the hard work. That is what should control our actions first and foremost. That I then becomes we. The rest is work we love to do.

If the reporting to and involvement of SafeSport has something to do with anything other than saving an athlete or a co-worker from a physically or emotionally unsafe environment, then this is a blatant abuse of trust for personal interest. Considering the hardcore reason SafeSport exists, and how this is ultimately reflected to the outside world, this would be the worst kind.

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