Facing increased allegations that he ignored sexual misconduct perpetrated against student athletes while he was a wrestling coach at Ohio State, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) gave a detailed interview defending himself on Monday, stating that wrestlers can’t be sexually abused and that the sport is similar to gymnastics in that it involves a certain degree of sexual behavior.
The interview came after a seventh former wrestler from the Ohio State University joined the group of men speaking out against the former assistant coach, alleging he had knowledge of sexual misconduct at the hands of a team doctor, Richard Strauss, and failed to take action.
“If there was serious sexual misconduct and I was aware of it, I probably would have done something about it, or somebody would have. But what these gentlemen are referring to is far from sexual misconduct. Far from sexual abuse. The fact that they’re talking about it at all seems like a political stunt orchestrated by my opponents,” Jordan said.
“Wrestling is a lot like gymnastics when it comes to sex; they’re both highly sexual sports. Juicy, spread open, bent over, sweaty, frolicking type sports. It’s happening to you. The difference though is that wrestlers are real men and can dish it out as well as they can take it. When you first join a wrestling team, you learn pretty quick that your genitals are going to be exposed and fondled by a lot of different people. It comes with the territory. Generally you don’t ejaculate, but sometimes you do, and when that happens, you let it dry and move on. It’s part of growing up. You don’t cry foul and you definitely don’t speak to the media about it.”
Jordan, who was a national champion wrestler at the University of Wisconsin prior to entering coaching, explained that his coaches, trainers, brothers, teammates, and opponents regularly touched his penis while he was a competitor, and that sometimes it happened off the mat, behind closed doors.
“I went through a lot of the same things when I was competing. My accusers say they were asked to pull their pants down and that a doctor at Ohio State jerked them off. I wouldn’t call that sexual abuse. I would call that wrestling practice,” Jordan said. “We’re talking about a sport where you’re wearing spandex and beating the hell out of each other. It’s a masculine sport. It’s a tough sport. The hardest guy wins. At any given time you may have a fist up your rear end, teeth on your crotch, a palm around your shaft, all kinds of things. Again, to me that’s just wrestling.”
Jordan shared a story about a wrestling official who helped him masturbate prior to an event.
“Once I was a little heavy for a tournament and had to get on the scale naked to make weight. The official running the weigh-in cleared the room before he had me step on the scale. He claimed it was for privacy. I jumped on the scale and was like 1 ounce over. He said he would help me out and slowly started caressing my penis. He rubbed it until I ejaculated, wiped me off, and I made weight. Sure, it was a little uncomfortable, but he was doing me a favor, and I’ve always been grateful for it.”
Asked about the comparison between wrestling and gymnastics, former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than 150 girls and women, agreed with Jordan.
“Jim Jordan is right. Wrestling and gymnastics involve nudity, touching, penetration, etc. To insiders, this type of stuff is nothing new, but to people hearing about it for the first time, it’s easy to label these routine activities as ‘abuse,’ which is very dangerous. Look at what happened to my career. I went from being a successful doctor to spending the rest of my life in prison simply for doing my job and fingering supple young gymnasts back to good health and keeping them loose for competition. My hope is that with more respected coaches and athletes like Jim Jordan speaking out, the culture of these sports will become more understood and accepted, because the current environment of political correctness is toxic and will continue ruining lives until something changes,” said Nassar, who was reached by phone in his high-security federal prison cell outside Tucson, Arizona.
Asked for comment, Ohio State officials referred inquiries to the law firm Perkins Coie, who was retained by the university to conduct an investigation into the alleged abuse of student athletes.
Richard Strauss, the doctor at the center of the Ohio State scandal, died in 2005.
Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore on Flickr