A theoretical overview of maltreatment in sport


Although sport has numerous potential physical, psychological and social benefits to offer, for some participants, these potentials are never realized. Occurrences of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, neglect, bullying and hazing in sport clearly indicate that positive outcomes are neither inherent or automatic. In response to recent, highly publicized cases of athlete abuse in particular, researchers and practitioners in sport are being pressed to prioritize and address the safety of athletes. One barrier, we suggest to advancing the prevention and intervention regarding maltreatment in sport, is the lack of clear definitions and understandings of maltreatment. Too often, the terms abuse, maltreatment, harassment, bullying and hazing are confused with one another and without a consistent conceptualization, it is difficult to gather incidence and prevalence rates. The purpose of this presentation therefore, is to present a conceptual framework for understanding various forms of maltreatment based upon the relationship in which the behaviours occur. Moreover, the current state of research on maltreatment in sport will be addressed to lay the foundation for the remaining presentations in the symposium and for the advancement of related research.