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Brock U forum to discuss crisis of athlete abuse, maltreatment

'Can Sport Regulate Itself?' topic of Nov. 17 discussion featuring panel of experts
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A group of Canadian sport researchers, experts and advocates will address Canada’s safe sport crisis of athlete abuse and maltreatment at an upcoming forum organized by Brock University’s Centre for Sport Capacity.

Set to take place in person and online Friday, Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Safe Sport Forum: Can Sport Regulate Itself? will focus on the structure and governance design of the sport system. Discussions will include policy and rule development, monitoring and enforcement, self-regulation, athlete experiences with safe sport mechanisms and the changes needed to ensure safe environments for all participants.

Speakers include former Canadian Olympic skier Allison Forsyth; Brock Sport Management Associate Professor Curtis Fogel; viaSport CEO Charlene Krepiakevich; University of Ottawa Associate Professor Eric MacIntosh; University of Toronto Professor Emeritus Peter Donnelly; and sport law experts Marcus Mazzucco and Hilary Findlay.

Findlay, who is a retired Brock Sport Management Associate Professor and current member of the Centre for Sport Capacity, said initiatives like the Safe Sport Forum are crucial in continuing to highlight the issues of abuse in sport and to discuss ways in which sport organizations can address systemic factors contributing to incidents.

“Maltreatment and abuse in sport is not new — it has been an open secret of sport for decades,” she said. "What has become clear is that the sport system itself is broken and the prevalence of maltreatment is symptomatic of system-wide issues.

“Certain characteristics of sport organizations can create an environment prone to maltreatment and also actively enable and perpetuate such treatment,” Findlay said.

“This is not to diminish the damage done by an individual perpetrator, but rather to recognize the power of the organization in shaping the conduct of those in positions of authority and the culture operating within the organization.”

Unfortunately, sport organizations have not been able to address these systemic issues from within their current self-governing framework, she said.

“We need a big rethink of how sport is governed to fully address the issue. Some of this work has begun both at the provincial/territorial level and national level of sport and will be highlighted as part of the forum’s agenda.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the hybrid Safe Sport Forum. Registration includes on-demand, anytime access to recorded presentations and resources.

More information, including registration, speaker topics, in-person event location and online access, can be found on the Centre for Sport Capacity website.