Crossing the Line

Volunteer volleyball coach caught stealing underwear and other items from female players

Sport occupies the greater part of what media produces, from broadcasts to game coverage and entire channels dedicated to sport, it’s an easy thing to find. The majority of the coverage is about the athletes, their teams and their games. In the mix of it all one very important and influential role gets shafted; the coach. What exactly does it mean to be a coach? What does deviance from the coaching role entail? Lets use Skyler N. Yee as an example of deviance.

Skyler N. Yee was a volunteer volleyball coach for the women’s program at Kansas University. After obtaining a warrant, police entered and searched his house, finding several pairs of underwear, women’s clothing and personal things that belonged to some of his players. He is now no longer a part of the staff and is facing charges of theft, burglary and property damage.

Yee’s case reads like he was just some older male who liked women’s underwear. Creepy, right? What is worse is the fact that he was directly associated with a university volleyball team which provided him access to several women who, given the context of the situation, granted him their trust and respect. This is where the role of coaching draws some thick lines with respect to players’ privacy and rights. Possessing a coaching role means that several boundaries exist which vary significantly depending on things such as age, sex, gender, location, place, relationship, space, sport, team atmosphere, job, other roles, etc. These boundaries also differ based upon the context of the team situation. If a younger woman is coaching a high school basketball team, she is more likely to be able to engage in play, live drills, and contact with her players, whereas as older male in the same situation may not be granted that level of interaction and contact.

Given the commentary above it seems odd that even in the same context men and women face different expectations and boundaries? Should any coach or person associated with the team be able to have contact with players? Who determines (and how) where these boundaries exist between player and coach?

According to Donna De Haan and Annelies Knoppers, much of the knowledge passed on by a coach is a reflection of how the coach was coached when they were younger. Although they focus on gendered coaching, this still yields information pertaining to boundaries between coach and player.


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