Athletes experience the most common treatment of maltreatment which is psychological abuse, follow by neglect, a new study from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education has find. The findings are the result of a survey to determine the prevalence of maltreatment among current and former national team athletes, conduct in partnership with Athletes can and with support from the federal government.

Safe training conditions

Most troubling are that neglectful and psychological harmful behaviours; such as the use of demeaning, threatening or humiliating comments; also denying basic needs such as food, water and safe training conditions; so are accept as normal practices in sport, said Gretchen Kerr, a professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education and lead author of the study.

Of the 1,001 athletes who participate in the study; so 764 were current athletes and 273 were retire athletes who had left their sport within the past 10 years. Female athletes, both current and retire; so report experiencing far more harmful behaviours psychological, physical, sexual and neglect. Similarly, retire athletes report experiencing higher percentages of harm than current athletes across all categories.

In the case of psychological harm, most behaviours were enact by coaches; so follow by peers and high performance directors. Neglectful behaviours were experience from coaches; so high performance directors and sport administrators, while physically harmful behaviours were enact primarily by coaches. Finally, most sexually harmful behaviours were execute by coaches and peers.

Negative health outcomes

The findings reveal a significant relationship between each form of harmful experience; so negative health outcomes such as engaging in self-harming behaviours; so eating disorders and having suicidal thoughts. The findings also reveal that negative health outcomes are experience by athletes; so long after their athletic career on the national team has ended.
As high performance athletes, they are in a unique position; hence to speak to the wide scope of normalize behaviours they have experienced from grassroots to elite sport; but we are only a small portion of recreational and competitive athletes in Canada.If they have experience maltreatment throughout our sport pathway; so this study then brings into question how many other athletes are experiencing harm that are not yet at this level.
Athletes also comment on the ways in which they are silence through threats; hence of negative repercussions in response to raising concerns, and not having a safe and confidential place to disclose or to report concerns. Of those current and retired athletes who experienced any form of maltreatment, only 15% report their experiences.
The last prevalence study of Canadian athletes’ experiences was conducted over 20 years ago and since that time, the culture with respect to reporting sexual violence as well as child and youth protection has changed dramatically, says Kerr. Not only does this prevalence study provide a snapshot of athlete experiences but it serves as baseline data against which to assess the impact of future preventative and intervention initiatives.