Tom Elder on coaching ETHICS

Ethics in coaching is critical for all our clubs and organizations.

Many Federations are under investigation at the moment, for example.

Our goal is keeping everyone safe, while bringing the most benefits to the greatest number of participants. Fairness. Equal opportunity. And more.

Tom Elder is assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania and a Bioethics scholar.

Click PLAY or watch some highlights of Tom’s interview on YouTube. (16min)

Watch the entire interview. (79min)

Gymnastics Australia report

An independent review into gymnastics in Australia says the sport has enabled a culture of physical, emotional and sexual abuse which many participants have described as “toxic”.

The report, carried out by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), made 12 recommendations …

… the report explored power imbalances between athletes and coaches, body-shaming and bullying, and a culture which it said helped “create an environment where abuse and mistreatment can thrive”.

In response, Gymnastics Australia said it “unreservedly apologises …”

Gymnastics Australia report reveals ‘significant cultural challenges’, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse

related – Gymnasts Kirsty-Leigh Brown, Emily Little, and Mary-Anne Monckton are speaking out about their experiences as young professional athletes and the ‘toxic’ culture in gymnastics

club SafeSport recommendations

From the UK’s leading children’s charity:

  • a welfare or child protection officer who you can contact with any concerns
  • a clear procedure for complaints and concerns
  • written standards for good practice
  • effective consent and emergency processes
  • a safe recruitment process for staff and volunteers, including vetting
  • staff and volunteers are trained in safeguarding children
  • children and young people are suitably supervised (based on their age, ability, the activity and venue) by adults who are trained to care for them
  • the activity takes place in a safe environment – and there are separate changing areas for children and adults

Via Gymnasts for Change – How can parents and carers help safeguard gymnasts?

coaches ‘selling or spoiling’ sport

Wayne Smith is one of the most thoughtful and outspoken pundits on coaching.

Coaches and Officials – more than anyone else – are directly responsible for whether your sport succeeds or fails.

Coaches and Officials can be powerful and effective advocates for all the wonderful things your sport has to offer.

And they can be just as influential in contributing to the demise and even complete destruction of your sport.

So the question is: Are your coaches and officials Spoiling Sport or Selling Sport? …

New Sport Future
photo by NontrivialMatt – coach yelling at 4yr old

Independent review of Gymnastics Australia

… revealed “systemic risk factors” within the sport, including for child abuse and neglect, misconduct, bullying, abuse, sexual harassment and assault towards athletes.

The review, undertaken by the Human Rights Commission, was commissioned by Gymnastics Australia in August 2020 after serious complaints were made alleging mental and physical abuse of athletes. …

“Some of these risk factors also exist in many other sports, including significant power disparities between athletes and coaches and administrators,” the report, titled Change The Routine, stated. …

“There is a spotlight on the human rights of athletes around the world …

Twelve recommendations for change were made …

Australian gymnastics ‘a high-risk environment for abuse’, review finds

Read the report.

Beyond Safe Sport

Gretchen Kerr, University of Toronto:

  • At its core, the Safe Sport movement is about optimizing the sport experience for all—athletes, coaches, sport administrators, officials, support staff, and others in the sport environment.
  • Broader societal changes have influenced the Safe Sport movement: 
    • Changing approaches to child and youth development 
    • The #MeToo/Time’s Up movements 
    • Increased attention to equity, diversity, and inclusion 
    • Highly publicized cases of athlete maltreatment 
  • For sport leaders, understanding the process of change (i.e., denial, resistance, exploration, and commitment) can be useful to successfully embedding Safe Sport practices within their sport.

This article addresses the next steps in the Safe Sport journey; specifically, how to move from a focus on prevention of harms to a focus on optimizing the sport experience for athletes and sport leaders alike. This journey involves a cultural change in sport—one that challenges some traditionally accepted assumptions and practices and encourages the adoption of new methods. Building on my work with National Sport Organizations (NSOs), this article has three aims:

  1. To show that Safe Sport extends beyond the prevention of harms to the optimization of sport experiences;
  2. To highlight some of the broader societal influences on Safe Sport, which are also affecting other sectors in Canada and abroad;
  3. To address some of the common concerns and questions about Safe Sport. …

Next Steps in the Safe Sport Journey: From Prevention of Harm to Optimizing Experiences

Dutch Federation Abuse Report

A long-awaited report commissioned by Dutch gymnastics federation KNGU into the scale and nature of abuse in gymnastics has shown that former top athletes in particular have been the victim of ‘transgressive behaviour’, meriting apologies, after care and compensation. …

The problems ranged from ‘constant threats of humiliation, insults, negative criticism, being made a fool of, intimidation, isolation and threats’ to forcing gymnasts to practice with injuries and inciting them to lose too much weight.

Read more at Intimidation, bullying rampant in top flight gymnastics: report

“Body Image” by Sydney Staier

Maryland athletes, including gymnasts, read Sydney’s important poem.

A good body is one that gets the job done.

Click PLAY or watch it on Twitter.

Sydney wrote that for herself. But when team dietitian, Paula Karamihas, saw it — she recommended it be shared.

Read the poem here.