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September 22, 2021 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Wednesday, September 22, 2021 — 9

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I stumbled upon the article in bed

in early 2020 on yet another sleepless
night. As I absorbed the story about Dr.
Robert Anderson and his sexual abuse of
University of Michigan students, panic
engulfed my stomach, and bile rose in my
throat. Something was horribly wrong.
I ran to the bathroom, vomited and lay
down on the tiled floor.

A dark memory came into focus. One

I had hidden from everyone, including
myself, but that had interrupted my
sleep for 25 years. I flashed back to the
events in a cold examining room that
shattered my world, my self-confidence
… my everything. What took its place
was twitching anxiety and unfathomable
shame that would consume much of
my life, leading me to question every
relationship, decision and emotion I have
had as a son, husband, father, co-worker,
neighbor and friend. It also endangered
my health: Since that day, I have never
visited a doctor.

es, I am a victim of Anderson
along with hundreds, if not
thousands, of other former U-M


I have long been consumed by the why:

Why did this happen to me? Why didn’t
I say anything? Why did no one take the
allegations seriously? Why didn’t the
University protect me? Was I easy prey?
Was I weak? Was I expendable?

I was a Michigan Man. A student-

athlete. As a Michigan Man you live
by standards others dare to attain. We
practiced, studied and played with every
ounce of our ability. We pressed through
pain because that was what the coaches
demanded and what the fans wanted. You
couldn’t have any chinks in the armor,
and weakness was never an option.

And because I, along with the

hundreds of other male student-athlete

survivors of Anderson were “Michigan
Men,” our experiences and traumas are
largely unknown outside of Michigan
and continue to be marginalized in a
unique way. Because we were “Michigan
Men,” the atrocities we encountered and
traumas that continue to haunt us today
are somehow lessened, swept under
the rug in the shadow of our perceived
strength and size. As if “Michigan Men”
were built to endure the pain.

But I was a naive kid, only 18, which in

retrospect was prime prey.

remember the moment I decided
to no longer be Anderson’s victim.
I had had enough. I ran from the

examining room. My trust in authority
was gone, as was my dream of being a
U-M athlete. He had now stolen both.

As a result, I quit the team that day

to avoid Anderson and turned instead
to Labatt Blue to camouflage my shame.
Labatt turned into Jack Daniels, which
turned into Nyquil. Thankfully, I stopped
myself before it turned into something
stronger. But by then, distancing myself
from those closest to me had become my
new norm.

The emotional vacuum I created

eventually led me to jump from job-

to-friend. Instead of opening the door

purposefully, slammed the door shut just
as I did the day I ran out of the examining
room, vowing never to go back there and
be hurt again.

But when I killed my association with

the sport I loved, I killed my ability to
truly love. I now realize how much I have
missed in life by feeling so little and am
working to communicate more freely
with my family and friends. But I am
also angrier than ever before about what
happened to me and so many others.

As student-athletes, we put our trust

in the University and those around us to
do the right thing on and off the field. We
knew the University made money off our

talents, filling stadiums with paying fans.
It was a relationship we accepted. But
maybe the relationship with the fans and
the University is a facade, maybe athletes
are worthless to the University if we aren’t
winning. And most definitely, part of that
relationship was being aware that our
coaches would uncomfortably chuckle
when appointments with Anderson were
mentioned, as would other athletes who
either had firsthand knowledge as I did
or had heard through teammates that the
rumors were, in fact, true.


“Leaders and Best” are ignoring,
neglecting and overlooking our

experiences as victims disgusts me.

The Michigan Machine that relied

on us for revenue now views us as an
uncomfortable chorus of complainers.
The money we helped them make is
now being used to hire law firms and
investigators to minimize our existence.
Staff, many of whom may still be working
in the athletics department, likely knew
more than they shared with investigators.
Now, witnessing how the “Leaders and
Best” are denying survivors transparency
and attempting to avoid accountability
for the decades upon decades of their

Along with the acts of Anderson, the
University’s lack of transparency should
also sicken former and current athletes,

students, staff, alumni and the public.

o the largest alumni base in
the world, to Michigan fans
everywhere, to donors, corporate


athletes, I ask you to stand up as you do
for us in Michigan athletic venues. Do
what we did for you: rise up, persevere,
press on. Tell University leaders we do
not accept what happened, nor will we
allow it to occur on any college campus,
any institution or in any sliver of society
again. Let’s uncover the uncomfortable
truth about what really happened and
change the conversation forever. Because
that is what Michigan Men (people) do:
We do what is right.

Op-ed: I am a Michigan Man, and this is

my Dr. Anderson story

Op-ed Contributor

Design by Jessica Chiu

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