A developing critical consciousness: A case study of one coach's perspectives on social justice in Canadian high school sport


High school sport coaches have been identified as key non-parental sources of influence who are well positioned to help adolescent athletes achieve success in and beyond sport. In addition to being responsible for athlete performance outcomes, scholars have highlighted the broad range of psychosocial outcomes over which coaches have significant influence. In view of recent social movements (i.e., Black Lives Matter, #MeToo) that have led citizens to organize and act in the name of positive social change, there is a need to examine how high school sport coaches can leverage their roles to address social inequity and to promote social justice among their adolescent athletes. In the present study, one coach's (White, male) attitudes on social justice in Canadian high school sport were explored through the lens of the critical positive youth development (CPYD) framework – more specifically, the Freirean notion of critical consciousness. Two semi-structured interviews over a 3-month timespan were conducted with the coach via the Zoom platform, and findings were subjected to a reflexive thematic analysis. Findings highlight this coach's developing critical consciousness with regards to his coaching practice, which centres on a reactive approach to addressing social justice issues. Findings also point to a desire for greater access to educational resources related to social justice. Practical considerations are offered for how coaches can be better educated to promote social justice in the high school sport context, specifically by using the CPYD framework to foster coaches' critical consciousness.