The following information has been provided by SafeSport, a program of The United States Olympic Committee. SafeSport aims to create a healthy, supportive environment for all participants of sport through education, resources, and training. The overall goal is to help members of the sport community recognize, reduce, and respond to misconduct in sport. For more information, please visit www.safesport.org.
What you need to know to protect athletes
Sport can teach lessons that reach beyond the field of play, but its ability to do so depends on maintaining the bonds of trust, mentorship and mutual respect among teammates. These elements are undermined when sexual misconduct occurs in sport settings. Sexual misconduct includes sexual abuse, sexual harassment and rape. Every member of the sport community, especially adult staff in positions of authority, can contribute to a sport environment free from sexual misconduct by working together and being informed.
Sexual misconduct involves any touching or non-touching sexual interaction that is non-consensual or forced, coerced or manipulated, or perpetrated in an aggressive, harassing, exploitative or threatening manner. It also includes any sexual interaction between an athlete and an individual with evaluative, direct or indirect authority. Last, any act or conduct described as sexual abuse or misconduct under federal or state law (e.g., sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, rape) qualifies as sexual misconduct.
- An imbalance of power is always assumed between a coach and an athlete.
- Minors cannot consent to sexual activity with an adult; and all sexual interaction between an adult and a minor is strictly prohibited.
Examples of Sexual Misconduct
- Touching offenses
- Fondling an athlete's breasts or buttocks
- Exchange of reward in sport (e.g., team placement, scores, feedback) for sexual favors
- Genital contact
- Sexual relations or intimacies between participants in a position of trust, authority and/or evaluative and supervisory control over athletes or other sport participants
- Sexually oriented comments, jokes or innuendo made to or about an athlete, or other sexually harassing behavior
- A coach discussing his or her sex life with an athlete
- A coach asking an athlete about his or her sex life
- A coach requesting or sending a nude or partial-dress photo to athlete
- Exposing athletes to pornographic material
- Sending athletes sexually explicit or suggestive electronic or written messages or photos (e.g., "sexting")
- Deliberately exposing an athlete to sexual acts
- Deliberately exposing an athlete to nudity (except in situations where locker rooms and changing areas are shared)
- Sexual harassment; specifically, the sexual solicitation, physical advances, or verbal or nonverbal conduct that is sexual in nature
These guidelines do not apply to a preexisting relationship between two spouses or life partners.
Reporting Sexual Misconduct
It's critical for clubs, coaches, staff members, volunteers and parents to report suspicions or allegations of sexual misconduct to the proper officials and appropriate law enforcement authorities.
By working together, we can create safe conditions for sport and protect athletes.