Daily Distraction: Scott Raab goes deep on the OSU sports scandal with 'The Wrestler'

In an essential new 'Esquire' piece, the Cleveland writer presents a detailed look into decades of abuse within the OSU sports program

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
A faded photo of U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, front row third from right, can be seen with members of the 1982 wrestling state championship in the trophy case at St. Paris Graham High School on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021. Both Jim and his brother Jeff Jordan each won four state individual wrestling titles when they were in high school at Graham.

The scale of the Ohio State abuse scandal is overwhelming, with team physician Richard Strauss having abused more than 350 athletes over two decades with the program, including 47 allegations of rape over 15 sports.

In "The Wrestler," newly published by Esquire magazine, writer Scott Raab captures the devastation by narrowing his scope, revisiting the abuse largely through the experiences of survivor Mike Schyck, a two-time All American wrestler at Ohio State in the early 1990s. 

Speaking to Raab, Shyck said:

“My first physical. I’m a freshman. Take that as an eighteen-year-old. You’re on full scholarship and you’re trying to find your way with new teammates—you think you’re gonna be that guy that’s going to say anything? You think you’re going to be the guy that’s gonna make yourself look like you’re a fool? Now, in hindsight, I would have screamed from the top of the hills, ‘What the eff is going on?’ No one did. So that’s what I dealt with. The first week on campus.

“As you’re going into the room, a lot of the upper classmen, they’re doing catcalls—they already know what’s happening because it happened to them the year before and the year before that. They’re already doing the catcalls—and I’m a freshman listening to that. I didn’t know this till I got out of there, but if you’re in his office a longer period of time than everybody else, what do you think you got when you came out? The catcalls were even worse. ‘Oh, Doc Strauss loves you now. HE LOVES YOU. You are the guy. You’re his new boyfriend.’”

The piece also doesn't spare Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a former OSU assistant wrestling coach who is accused of having knowledge of the abuse and not acting, a charge he has denied.

"I would love to have a conversation with [Jordan],” Schyck told Raab. “This is not a political thing. My politics don’t fall too far from his — I’m a conservative. I almost feel bad he was brought into this. He didn’t do the abuse. But he ended up reaching out to have wrestlers vouch for him — there’s never been a call to any of the wrestlers to find out, ‘Hey, what can I do for you?’ or ‘How you doing?’

“He would have been like Superman to the guys he has mentored and coached by just saying, ‘I know what you guys are going through. It was a horrible environment.’ Just something. Then it would have been gone. It would have been put to bed. He had the opportunity to do what a lot of people didn’t do back then and aren’t doing now. That’s to step forward and say something.”

Take time to read the whole thing here.