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An Embarrassment for a Nation Strong in Sports

Posted November. 02, 2005 05:07,   


“I am afraid to open my eyes in the morning. I pray I will not be hit today.” (19 years old, female professional player)

“My child was harshly hit in the ear right in front my eyes. I was totally heartbroken.” (A parent of a middle school student)

Korea ranks around 10th in the world in terms of sports, but its players’ human rights have been trampled down based on “obsession with successful records.” The Dong-A Ilbo acquired a report on “Ways to Eradicate Physical Abuse for Athletes and Related Investigation” (chief researcher Dr. Ko Eun-ha, 35 years old) led by the Korea Institute of Sport Science on November 1. It was a result of personal interviews of 44 athletes from 20 sports, including those which could possibly guarantee medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. They were elementary, middle and high school students, college students, professional athletes, parents, and leaders. The report said leaders and seniors recklessly continued physical abuse beyond time and space.

Dr. Ko said, “At first, athletes would feel pain and humiliation, but over time they get used to it and accept it as normal.”

Cases of Physical Abuses-

Number 1:

“My coach came into the dorm, totally drunk, and beat me hard. The next day, the dorm host asked him about what happened the day before, and he said, ‘Did I do that?’” (Male professional athlete aged 24)

Number 2:

“When the dorm is not clean or my coach criticizes us harshly, my seniors get so frustrated and habitually beat me.” (Male professional athlete aged 24)

Number 3:

“Someone kicked my joints with his shoes, and I fell down as he smashed my cheek. He kept stepping on me for about 20 minutes.” (Male professional athlete aged 26)

Ways to Eradicate Corporal Punishment-

The report said in order to protect the rights of players, detailed regulations, oversight, and supervisory bodies on corporal punishment are the most feasible solutions. Dr. Ko said, “The most fundamental solution is trainer education. Normally incompetent coaches do so. Effective teaching methodologies should be developed and spread out so that players will be able to perform well without being physically beaten.”

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com