The impact of a champion

Shannon Quigley Runningbear

Shannon Quigley Runningbear at an event at UCSD in 2005

This Sunday the fourth annual Shannon Runningbear Beach Volleyball Tournament takes place in Long Beach. The tournament, organized and run by friends of the late educator, raises funds annually for a program at Long Beach City College that provides basic skills education and mentoring to at-risk students. Shannon created this program, named the STAR Program, and was a force of nature in ensuring its success and the success of its students.

Shannon was a close friend of mine through the years, dating all the way back to our time in college at UCSD together in the late 1980s, where she was an NCAA national champion athlete in both volleyball and track & field (a campaign honoring her is underway at UCSD to construct a new track & field scoreboard at the site of her greatest athletic achievements).

As this year’s beach volleyball tournament approaches, I went back to a piece I wrote immediately after her passing in 2009. Here it is… Continue reading

In the wake of Penn State…one month later

From Penn State to Syracuse to the AAU, accusations of sexual abuse of minors by authority figures in organized sport have been flying in recent weeks. While I’m glad the initial charges against Jerry Sandusky have evidently given other alleged victims the strength to speak out about their own incidents of abuse, and that the veracity of these claims is being investigated formally in every instance, I continue to be mortified by the very thought that these coaches, teachers, and mentors to young people could have perpetrated such heinous crimes, and allegedly over years if not decades of time.

Here’s hoping the victims and families affected by these scandals see justice done, and that from all of these nightmares come reforms in how college and amateur sports are supervised so that more children aren’t subjected to the horrors alleged in the Sandusky/Penn State and Fine/Syracuse cases, and that other closet abusers will be brought out into the light as is now happening with the former head of the AAU.

There should never be a statute of limitations on child rape. There’s certainly no limit to the damage it causes to the child.

Scandal at Penn State: There are no words…

Television sports reporter Jackie Pepper posted on her blog today about the mess at Penn State that is rapidly engulfing the storied football program and indeed the entire institution. She very effectively details the legal responsibilities college administrators have – and the human decency that was evidently absent in this case. She said it all in her opening sentence: “The notion of several adults being made aware of the possible sexual abuse of a 10-year-old boy and not reporting the incident to police is mind boggling.”

Sandusky and Paterno

Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno during happier times – when the public was unaware of Sandusky’s alleged molestation of children

Read her blog post here:

Blinded by Money and Power: Penn State Administrators Ignored Legal Responsibility, Empathy, and Human Decency

I’ve spent much of my career on college campuses and working in athletic departments. I ran youth basketball camps on a college campus years ago, staffed by coaches from the college. I cannot for the life of me fathom witnessing something like what is alleged at Penn State and not reporting it beyond my supervisor to legal authorities immediately – or hearing such a report from a colleague or subordinate and not calling the police.

As a parent to a child who has attended countless sports camps and clinics run by coaches, I’m speechless. There are no words to sum up what my reaction is.

There is no excuse – none – for thinking one’s responsibility stops at telling their boss and forgetting about it. Not when children are being molested. Continue reading