A Safer World for Athletes is in Your Hands
This summer, ESD Global is hosting a Level 1 Elite Athletes ESD Instructor Training, led by Olympic gold-medalist Arlene Limas, for professionals who work with athletes and for athletes who may have recently retired from competition who are looking for a way to give back to the community and to help effect real change.
Elite athletes face unique challenges and need ESD instructors who understand their world.
Here is Arlene’s vision, along with her thoughts on the importance of this important new initiative:
I am an Olympian. I am a gold medal winner in the sport of TaeKwonDo. And I am very passionate about giving our high-level athletes the tools to protect themselves from predatory behavior, whether it be from coaches, administrators, or other teammates.
Unlike traditional martial arts training, Empowerment Self-Defense training is a proven violence prevention intervention with the potential to give athletes of all levels both physical and mental techniques for coping with various types of violence, along with risk awareness and de-escalation skills, verbal boundary setting, assertiveness skills, and physical techniques.
From dealing with inappropriate cohesion, differentiating between appropriate and inappropriate touch, to the ability to set boundaries with coaches and administrators, ESD provides skills that no other form of self-defense can.
High-level athletes, in particular, are a very special part of our population because they are so laser-focused on their goal and are willing to sacrifice so much of their freedom and autonomy for the sake of their sport.
As we saw with Larry Nassar, power in the wrong hands puts a vulnerable athlete in a very bad place. When I began my own ESD training through ESD Global, a real lightbulb that went off in my head, and I began to wonder how such powerful high-level athletes can succumb to predatory behavior.
After joining the ESD Global community in 2017, and then beginning my instructor training in 2018, the answers to that question became clear.
Though I believe in trying work with the “bad coach” or improve the “bad administrator” as a way of preventing abuse, we need to focus our energy on training individual athletes and giving them the practical skills they need to protect themselves. Everyone, elite athletes included, deserves to have a collection of tools that will allow them to respond to unwanted behavior.
We can't wait for coaches to get better or for predatory behavior to change. Uncovering scandals and punishing predators is a start, but there’s so much more work to be done.
I truly believe that athletes who are taught to respect and protect their own bodies from a young age will grow up and become teammates, coaches, and administrators who will respect and protect the rights and the bodies of others.
A safer world for athletes is in your hands.