Bullying in Sport

Posted on: January 27, 2015
By: Play by the Rules

“Parents or teachers should be the ones to deal with bullying incidents”... “It’s a natural and normal part of sport”...“Let them sort it out themselves”...

If you agree with any of these statements then it’s time to leave the stands, because you’ve got it very wrong when it comes to bullying.

Sport is an emotional, competitive arena which is not immune from acts of bullying; in fact it often provides an environment which can lend itself to this type of behaviour. Examples of bullying in sport may include:

  • a parent telling their child they are “hopeless”
  • players sending abusive text messages, emails to another player or via social networking sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, or Ask)
  • spectators verbally abusing opposition players or referee's
  • an athlete calling a referee names.

For young people in particular, being the victim of bullying is a very serious issue and can cause them to feel embarrassed, humiliated and intimidated. It can also affect a person’s physical and mental health, school life and athletic performance.

As members of the community and as coaches, officials, parents, spectators and club administrators, we have a moral, and sometimes even a legal, responsibility to be more than just spectators.

Look for signs of bullying

Some incidents of bullying may be reported by a parent, coach or official, but most of the time bullying happens under adults’ radar. So, what signs should we look for?

A person being bullied may:

  • find excuses for not wanting to attend training or games
  • be the last one picked for team or group activities
  • have unexplained bruises or other injuries
  • become uncharacteristically nervous, worried, shy or withdrawn.

What to do about it

  • Always take bullying matters seriously. Listen and discuss the options for dealing with the situation.
  • Determine a course of action and keep accurate and up-to-date documentation.
  • Talk to the young person’s parents and/or care givers and consider enlisting the help of his or her school. The bullying may also be occurring there and schools often have very effective anti-bullying programs.
  • Review TCYBA's Codes of Conducts, Policies and Resources pages for more information. 
  • Some forms of bullying constitute assault, harassment or discrimination and may be illegal. If the bullying involves threats of violence, abuse or blackmail, you may need to report the incident to the police.

Strategies to prevent bullying

  • Form effective partnerships with parents and the wider community to implement and maintain anti-bullying initiatives and perhaps set up an anti-bullying committee.
  • Foster diversity and inclusion in your community, and encourage members to celebrate differences in culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability and economic status.

Check out the following resources: 
PREVNet - website
ERASE Bullying - website
Play by the Rules: Got an Issue?
Bullying. No Way! - website
or the article Cybercrimes on a personal level: What is cyberbullying.

*Play by the Rules is a unique collaboration between the Australian Sports Commission, Australian Human Rights Commission, all state and territory departments of sport and recreation, all state and territory anti-discrimination and human rights agencies, the NSW Commission for Children and Young People and the Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Association (ANZSLA). These partners promote Play by the Rules through their networks, along with their own child safety, anti-discrimination and inclusion programs.

Play by the Rules provides information, resources, tools and free online training to increase the capacity and capability of administrators, coaches, officials, players and spectators to assist them in preventing and dealing with discrimination, harassment and child safety issues in sport.

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The Tri City Youth Basketball Association (TCYBA) was formed in 1999 and serves Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, in British Columbia. Currently, there are over 1,200 players, in grades 2 to 9, playing the various divisions in the club. Open to both boys and girls, the TCYBA operates out of school gyms across the Tri City area.

TCYBA is managed by an elected volunteer Board of Directors and league operations are handled by a small paid staff that include a League Coordinator and Master Coach among others.

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The Tri-City Youth Basketball Association (TCYBA) was formed in 1999 and is a registered, volunteer-driven, not-for-profit that serves the youth of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody (Tri-Cities) and surrounding areas in British Columbia, Canada. Currently we have well over 2000 players, from Kindergarten to grade 12, playing in various divisions including both competetive and recreational play. Open to both boys and girls, the club operates out of school gyms across the Tri-City area and strives to ensure all youth that want to enjoy the sport have an opportunity to participate

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