Carole Oglesby remembers emotional abuse from her college softball years. In one case, the WomenSport International vice president recalled, the female coach benched Oglesby, a top athlete and team starter, because of some personal beef. Bad luck for her parents, who had driven from Los Angeles to Phoenix to watch their daughter play in the two-day competition.
It’s clear that bullying and emotional abuse by coaches of any gender has deep roots. But several complaints and lawsuits in recent months focused more attention on behavior that people would historically expect to see more from men.
“A lot of the emotional and more militaristic and combative coaching is traditionally male,” Oglesby said. That’s the in-your-face, dominate-your-enemy, win-at-all-costs approach that rarely triggers a second thought when it’s seen in men’s sports. Female coaches, on the other hand, have tended to take the “mastery approach,” where winning is simply a byproduct of playing your best.