As of Thursday, April 1, integrating the policies of the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS) is mandatory for all federally funded, national-level sport organizations.
Developed by the Canadian sport community, the UCCMS addresses maltreatment broadly and comprehensively, covering all types of conduct that inflict physical or psychological harm by a person against another person within the sport community.
While generally viewed as a positive, there was some pushback from national and provincial sport organizations looking for clauses to allow what they considered to be ‘accepted training practices in a sport.’
Brock University has a number of experts available to speak with the media about the issue of the UCCMS and its adoption. They say the unsuccessful pushback from some organizations suggest there are going to be challenges with the consistent implementation and enforcement of the Code.
Assistant Professor of Sport Management Michele Donnelly says “The fact that the UCCMS ‘addresses maltreatment broadly and comprehensively’ is so important.”
“This means we are not only going to be operating with the legal thresholds for harassment and abuse, but are also able to recognize and address all of the behaviours and actions that are so problematic in sport,” she says.
Donnelly says reporting currently happens within a sport organization and has varied consequences (often repercussions) for those reporting. Further, harassment and abuse of athletes by coaches, and the lack of administrative action in these instances, has been highlighted in recent cases in the media and the courts. In some cases, sport organizations have protected and promoted abusers/harassers when they are considered “successful” or a benefit to the organization, Donnelly says.
Director of Brock’s Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC) and Associate Professor of Sport Management Julie Stevens says “The long-term negative ramifications of maltreatment in sport is a significant issue for athletes and leaders that needs further discussion, discourse and action at all levels.”
“We are looking forward to hosting an event that will ensure athlete voices and experiences flow throughout the entire forum,” says Stevens. “We hope to bring together athletes, coaches, sport professionals and volunteers, and academics from the Niagara region and across Canada, for productive dialogue.”
Registration for the Athletes First: The Promotion of Safe Sport in Canada forum is now open. For more information, schedule details and announcements on panelists, visit the Centre for Sport Capacity website.
Assistant Professor of Sport Management Michael Van Bussel says, “While the UCCMS defines maltreatment as ‘covering all types of conduct that inflict physical or psychological harm by a person against another person, within the sport community’ and goes beyond the coach-athlete dynamic, relational risk management provides sport management practitioners with a framework to build constructive relationships between athletes, coaches and administrators.”
“The UCCMS will provide sport organizations with a broad coverage regarding athlete maltreatment in sport to help develop policy,” says Van Bussel. “It will not only address high-level abusive behaviour by coaches and administrators, it will also identify and more subtle psychological and relational maltreatment that often goes unrecognized and is not dealt in an appropriate manner.”