Amy Donaldson: Why do we tolerate abuse in coaching?

Published: Sunday, March 10 2013 6:05 p.m. MDT

The problem is in the lines we’ve allowed ourselves to cross. Even though we’re now much less tolerant of abusive coaching styles, there is still a part of us that believes breaking someone down physically is necessary to build something better. And it is in that realm that coaches can do some of the things alleged against Winslow and not only get away with it, but be praised for it.

For all the athletes who overcome these incidents, who succeed because — or in spite — of these types of coaches, there are as many athletes who leave sports because they don’t want to be harassed, berated or humiliated. I’ve talked to many athletes who changed sports, gave up youth sports or chose games that didn’t require adult supervision (skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX, etc.).

What those of us who love sports need to ask ourselves is where should the line be? At what point does a coach stop being the person pushing us past our mental limits and become the person doing real psychological damage to young athletes?

Maybe calling someone names isn’t illegal, but should it be the way we try to inspire greatness? Maybe embarrassing someone in front of their teammates isn’t against the law, but should it be the way we motivate people that we care about?

I would like to know what the OEO investigation found and what U. administrators knew. Because while they might need a panel of experts to tell them what is and isn’t legal, they shouldn’t need anyone to tell them what kind of behavior is and isn’t moral.

Twitter: adonsports

Email: adonaldson@desnews.com