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Pledge to stop bullying in sport

viaSport asks BC sports organizations to sign declaration and promote #ERASEbullying
bullying sports viasport
In BC, viaSport is asking sports organizations to pledge to stop bullying. Photo Brock University

Bullying is a problem in sport.

The vast majority of B.C. sports organizations agree, and slightly more than half report they know of an athlete who has dropped out of their program because of bullying.

According to viaSport:

  • 94 per cent of B.C. sports organizations surveyed believe sport bullying is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
  • 55 per cent of B.C. sports organizations surveyed say they know of athletes who have dropped out of sport because of bullying.
  • 44 per cent of B.C. sports organizations surveyed say they know of officials, coaches, managers, board members and other volunteers who left a sport due to bullying.

Today, viaSport, a government agency created after the Vancouver Olympic Games, asked sports organizations to pledge to address bullying by making sport a more inclusive and safe environment and sign a declaration to uphold this promise.

To raise awareness about bullying in sport, the organization is promoting #ERASEbullying on social media and has released a video with the voices of Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Heil, Paralympic gold medalist Richard Peter, Whitecaps ambassador Carl Valentine, everyone’s favourite retired Canuck Trevor Linden, and Special Olympics athlete Paige Norton. They ask for the public to endorse the viaSport campaign by taking a pledge.“A sport environment in which participants, athletes, coaches, volunteers, spectators and officials are exposed to negative experiences, such as bullying, can be harmful and cause individuals to quit,” reads a viaSport news release.

In particular, as shown in numerous academic studies, sport is “a prime site for homophobic bullying and that the social and personal consequences of homophobic bullying associated with sport are severe,” according to the authors of a 2004 report, Sport and Gender Identities.

With strong leadership, the bullying and its effects can be prevented, said viaSport CEO Sheila Bouman.

“Sport is a powerful catalyst for personal growth and community pride,” she said in a statement. “ Those participating in sport, at any level, should feel safe and encouraged. On behalf of the 73 provincial sport organizations viaSport funds, and the 670,000 B.C. members these organizations represent, we are determined to ensure a safe, welcoming and positive sport culture and environment for all British Columbians.”

“The more public support we can get for this, the greater impact we will have. Power in numbers can lead to real change,” said Bouman. “Together we can ensure no child or athlete is bullied while participating in sport.”