The recent, highly publicized cases of maltreatment of athletes have garnered critical attention by the public at large and stakeholders in sport, alike. For many, these cases threaten popular views that sport contributes in important ways to positive youth development. The growing evidence showing that maltreatment occurs to youth sport participants highlights the need for safe, harm-free sport environments as a fundamental prerequisite for positive developments to be reaped. By unpacking the case study of USA Gymnastics and Dr. Larry Nassar’s abuses in this paper, the authors show that for athlete maltreatment to occur and be sustained across so many victims and so many years, more than a perpetrator is needed. The nature of the environment, from the interpersonal level to organizational policies and societal influences, contributes to the occurrence and perpetuation of athlete maltreatment. Using Bronfenbrenner’s ecological-systems model, the authors argue for a systemic approach to preventing and addressing athlete maltreatment. Recommendations are posed for safeguarding youth athletes and fostering the sporting conditions in which positive youth development can occur.
Gretchen Kerr, Anthony Battaglia, and Ashley Stirling
Gretchen Kerr, Anthony Battaglia, Ashley Stirling, and Ahad Bandealy
The negative consequences associated with punishment, highlighted by researchers in the parenting and education domains, have stimulated a shift toward more developmentally appropriate methods of behavior modification. Despite the reported negative outcomes linked with punishment use, preliminary research in sport indicates that punishment, specifically in the form of exercise, remains a common strategy in this domain. The purpose of this study therefore was to explore interuniversity coaches’ perspectives on the use of exercise as punishment. Semistructured interviews with eight interuniversity coaches (four males and four females) were conducted. Data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. Participant accounts revealed that exercise as punishment was implemented frequently in a variety of forms (e.g., push-ups and sprints). Perceived benefits for the use of exercise as punishment, such as performance motivation and team cohesion, as well as suggested alternative methods of behavioral modification were also reported. Findings are interpreted in accordance with punishment, shaming, and coach education research. Recommendations for future research and practice are suggested.