Influence of the #MeToo Movement on Coaches’ Practices and Relations With Athletes

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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Inspired by the #MeToo movement, women worldwide are coming forward to publicly share their accounts of sexual violence. These harmful experiences have been reported in a range of domains, including sport. As such, providing safe sport experiences for athletes is at the forefront of current discussions for all stakeholders in the sport environment, particularly coaches. Thus, the purpose of this research was to explore coaches’ perspectives of the #MeToo movement in sport and its influence on coaches’ practices and relationships with athletes. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 Canadian coaches, including male (n = 7) and female coaches (n = 5) from a variety of sports and competition environments. The study highlights that coaches expressed strong support for the #MeToo movement, while also noting an associated fear of false accusation. Coaches reflected on how the movement has impacted their coaching practices and relations with athletes and expressed a desire for greater professional development in this area. Implications include a need for greater coach education on safe touch, appropriate boundaries in the coach–athlete relationship, and clarifications regarding the process of investigating athletes’ accusations of sexual violence in order to alleviate coaches’ fears of being falsely accused.

Tam and Stirling are with the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Kerr is with the Programs and Innovation, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Tam (alexia.tam@mail.utoronto.ca) is corresponding author.

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