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    When a title is more important than sexual abuse allegations

    It was eleven years before Kyle Beach received an apology from the club he said he had the worst time of his life at. His allegation of sexual abuse by an assistant coach has been in the room since 2010, and now the Canadian ice hockey professional no longer complains anonymously, but with his name.

    His story is monstrous, the details of the rapes he suffered can be found on the internet for everyone. They are unbearable. The cover-up tactic with which a large organization like the Chicago Blackhawks from the National Hockey League (NHL) tried to sit out a crime is also unbearable. Allegedly, a person in charge is said to have said at the time that winning the championship was more important than the allegations of sexual abuse.

    The Chicago Blackhawks’ now published apology for the “delay” in the case includes the sentence that “no play-off game or a championship is more important” than protecting players and employees from attacks.

    Kyle Beach was once considered a great talent, he was drawn in eleventh place by the Blackhawks in the so-called draft of the NHL, was then part of the extended roster of the later championship team, but did not play a single NHL game.

    Today, in his prime ice hockey age, he plays for the German third division club Black Dragons Erfurt at the age of 31. In his sport he never got where he could have got with his talent. Europe is probably also an escape from home and from the brutality against him, which he was unable to fight with drugs and alcohol, he says. The abuse of him had “definitely had an impact on his life”, it had “destroyed him from within”. Now he is right and says “that his healing process can begin”.

    It is a story of collective failure, the league players union and their doctors who were informed did not act. Teammates knew and the club is only now acting. Obviously that worked with the consensus of silence in the NHL, in a sport that operates much more publicly in North America with old-fashioned images of masculinity and tough guys than in Europe.

    In this respect, Kyle Beach is not to be thanked enough for not letting go and thus increasing the sensitivity for the subject of abuse in professional sport in general. Kyle Beach said that something like this will happen again “in ice hockey, in soccer, in every sport”.

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