Author Irv Muchnick, the developer of the website Concussion Inc., is a major voice on controversy in youth sports (before sexual abuse, consussions were a big issue – and Muchnick wrote an entire series about concussions in football). His latest cause has been tackling the sexual abuses that have plagued the sport of swimming for decades, but have only been pushed to the forefront in the last few years.
Muchnick has been doing some legwork by contacting different politicians to see if they have heard anything about becoming involved in the case, and today he reports that at least one is looking into launching a government investigation.
Muchnik reached out to Congressman Mike Honda, a Democrat representing California’s 15th congressional distance, which includes the swimming hotbeds of Silicon Valley and San Jose. In an email to Muchnick (which we have been able to confirm as true), Honda’s senior aide Ashley Roybal-Reid said that “Congressman Honda has begun looking into what formal action our office can take to address this problem, including, but not limited to, Congressional hearings.”
Roybal-Reid said that while they were still considering what exactly their action would be, that Congressman Honda was “very concerned about the issue” after being contacted by a group of his constituents.
A USA Swimming spokesperson says that they have “heard nothing of the sort.”
Honda has a history of taking up social causes, and has been a spearhead of the so-called. anti-bullying caucus in congress.
Congressional investigations into matters of sport is not without precedent. Recent cases that have gone before congressional hearings include Roger Clemens’ steroids case, and very nearly the New Orleans Saints’ “bounty” scandal.
Though USA Swimming receives no direct funding from the federal government, similarly to Major League Baseball and the NFL, the justification for these investigations typically has to do with the fact that most major sporting infrastructures are government-condoned monopolies, meaning that there’s no competitive marketplace to allow for market regulation. Sports are not the only private industry that faces this sort of scrutiny.
These cases are often criticized as frivolous and a waste of Congress’ time and money, though it would seem in a situation regarding sexual abuse and children, those same criticisms would not be as publicly pronounced.