Swimming sex abuse scandal breaking

Corporate siblings ESPN and ABC are investigating cases of sexual misconduct among U.S. swimming coaches, with each network releasing some of its work tonight.

The ABC version, at least in the online form, looks a little sensationalized and allows a few unrealistic statements about USA Swimming to go unchecked. Bob Allard, a lawyer for families now suing USA Swimming, calls the organization’s background-check system “willfully incomplete.” That seems harsh given the realities of national sports federations’ budgets.

That said, the report raises a few questions of how some coaches were able to move from place to place just as parents and police were asking questions.

The ESPN piece, which won’t air in full until May 2 on Outside the Lines, seems more promising, delving into the questions of how this could happen without the assumption that it must all be USA Swimming’s fault.

Clearly, the organization isn’t set up to police 12,000 swim coaches. It never could be. But shedding some light on the problem should help to change the culture and make parents and swimmers feel more empowered to report abuses. The news reports will be just the start of that process.

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