Maltreatment in Sport: Current Knowledge and Future Directions

Presented by: Gretchen Kerr and Erin Willson.
This Resource Spotlight was presented and recorded on September 29, 2022.

As indicated by research and recent media reports, sport contexts can be characterized by toxic cultures in which athletes experience maltreatment, including microaggressions and discrimination. The emphasis on performance outcomes, misuse of power by adults in positions of trust and authority, cultural norms that are incongruent with those in other sectors, and the self-regulating nature of sport, contribute to the occurrence and perpetuation of maltreatment in sport. Moreover, these characteristics also contribute to the silencing of athletes about their maltreatment experiences and the active resistance by sport leaders to addressing maltreatment. This presentation reviewed the current evidence regarding maltreatment in sport, contributing factors, effects on athletes, and recommendations for prevention and intervention. 

Resource Spotlight Recording


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Learning Outcomes

Through the Webinar, participants:

  1. Gained further knowledge of the prevalence of maltreatment in sport, the nature of the maltreatment, causes, and effects on athletes;
  2. Connected the contextual norms in sport to the challenges of preventing and addressing maltreatment in sport, and;
  3. Expanded knowledge of prevention and intervention initiatives.


Gretchen-Kerr-Webinar.pngGretchen Kerr PhD is a Professor and Dean in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto and a co-Director of E-Alliance, the Canadian Gender Equity in Sport Research Hub. Her research focuses on safe sport and specifically on athletes’ experiences of gender-based violence and maltreatment. Gretchen was the senior author of Canada’s first national prevalence study of maltreatment among current and former national team members and was the subject matter expert in the development of the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment, a policy mandated for all National Sport Organizations by Sport Canada. For over 30 years, she has served as a volunteer athlete welfare officer, a role that involves managing and investigating complaints of athlete maltreatment.

Erin-Willson-Webinar.pngErin Willson is an Olympian in the sport of artistic swimming and is currently a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto. Her areas of research interest include maltreatment in sport, athlete empowerment and advocacy, which stemmed from her own experience training on the Canadian National Team. Erin is also the current President of AthletesCAN, which advocates for the rights of national team athletes in Canada.