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Social Work & Sports: A Look at Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

As I have previous stated in my introductory blog post, I love sports and working in the field of social work. I have worked in the field of social service for a large part of my life. The idea to merge my two loves and create a career began a short time after graduating from graduate school. As I began the journey to a private practice, I was encouraged by an adviser to produce written materials related to this topic and that is how I decided to write this blog on the subject of social work and sports.

Working with athletes and within sports organizations is an emerging practice in the field of social work. More than ever, social workers are finding themselves working with athletes on the high school, collegiate and professional levels. This month I was thinking about the history of mental health professionals working with sports and athletes. I then thought about current developments in the field and came to the realization that there is a need to provide a brief history, highlight …

Penn State University - Too BIG to Tell

Here is an obvious question, why didn’t anyone call the police? Was the desire to maintain a Big Ten Football legacy so strong that children were allowed to be victimized?What was the culture at Penn State University, where it allowed coaches and staff to think it was acceptable to pass the buck and turn a blind eye to child abuse? Where students rioted on campus, but not because they are outraged for the victimization of young children, but because their beloved Coach Joe Paterno was fired. 

I find the duality of the Penn State’s football program quite ironic. Outwardly, there is a quest for football excellence, yet go deeper and find the ignoring and hiding of horrific crimes against minors and the protection for a predator. The layers of inexcusable behaviors are numerous and it all begins with Jerry Sandusky. He satisfied his sexual desires by preying on young boys for many years. He destroyed their lives for his deviant satisfaction. It is just as appalling the lack of action from…

The other coach "SOCIAL WORKER"

My name is Natalie Graves and I have been interested in sports since I was a young girl. Watching sporting events was something I did with my father, mother and younger brother. Living in Chicago, the Bears and the Bulls were very important to my family. I remember fondly cheering for Walter Payton and Michael Jordan as they did something unbelievable in the game. We would scream and give each other high fives in celebration of a good play. These are wonderful memories of my childhood. Being a sports fan has always been a part of my life growing up and as an adult it still is.

Another big part of my life is my career in social work. I have always loved helping people and the field of social work allows me to do just that. I have worked for over ten years with at risk children and adolescents in social services agencies. I also worked as a certified School Social Worker in elementary and junior high schools. I am currently consulting with parents, schools and social service agencies, w…