Safe sport series - Athlete abuse in the public sphere

Published 06 June 2018 | Authored by: Nikki Dryden

Athletes are on an achievement pathway in their head and they are told in sport they should to tolerate anything that happens to them, even if it is injurious, or dangerous or evil and you should tolerate that on your path to greatness.

People think discipline, rigor, tough training is on same continuum as bullying and abuse, and it's not. You can be rigorous and demanding and push young people and indeed athletes to the envelope of what they tolerate but you can do that with their long-term health and safety in mind.John Amaechi, 1 Retired NBA Player

This is the author’s second article in a safe sport series.

The first article, available here 2 , explained the different types of abuse in sport, before looking in detail at the sexual abuse of minors in the context of the USA Gymnastics (USAG) case. In doing so, it also examined how the governing autonomy enjoyed by sports organizations can contribute to creating systemic problems; the need for greater athlete representation; and the response by US law makers that was led by changemaker, Nancy Hogshead-Makar.

This second article moves on to examine in more detail some of the other types of abuse present in sport. Whereas the USAG abuse happened in private where it was tricky to isolate, this piece will focus on other types of abuse that is happening out in the open. To do this, it will focus on:

    • Familial abuse in tennis

    • Sexual harassment and the National Collegiate Athletic Association

    • Sexual violence by student athletes

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About the Author

Nikki Dryden

Nikki Dryden

Nikki is a two-time Olympic swimmer from Canada and a human-rights and immigration attorney in New York. She competed at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games, with a top finish of 6th place, and covered the 2004 and 2008 Olympics for SwimNews Magazine. She has a BA in International Relations from Brown University and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

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