ATHLETE SAFETY: Defining Misconduct and Safe Boundaries

  
  


ATHLETE SAFETY: Defining Misconduct and Safe Boundaries

Misconduct and abuse, whether emotional, physical or sexual, has no place in sport and can tarnish an individual’s otherwise terrific athletic experiences.  Understanding athlete protection is everybody’s responsibility. That's why USA Cycling founded its SafeSport program, a program which will lead the sport of cycling into the next generation of athlete protection.

Welcome to the Athlete Safety Corner, where each month we'll examine one aspect of USA Cycling’s new SafeSport program.  Over the next few months we focus on a topic that is a cornerstone of what SafeSport is all about: Defining Misconduct and Safe Boundaries.
 
This month we are going to define and explore physical misconduct and the importance of maintaining healthy physical boundaries.
 
Cycling involves strenuous physical activity. In training and competition, athletes regularly push themselves to the point of exhaustion.  However, any activity that physically harms an athlete – such as direct contact with coaches or teammates, disciplinary actions, or punishment – is unacceptable.  Physical misconduct can extend to seemingly unrelated areas including inadequate recovery time for injuries (i.e. concussions) and forced excessive dieting.  Two of the best ways to promote safe conditions are to set clear boundaries and take a team
approach to monitoring athletes.
 
DEFINITION
 
Physical misconduct involves contact or non-contact behavior that can cause physical harm to an athlete or other sport participant.  It also includes any act or conduct described as physical abuse or misconduct under federal or state law (i.e. child abuse, child neglect and assault).  Generally, physical misconduct can involve any of the following acts:
 
Contact Offenses:
  1. Punching, beating, biting, striking, choking, slapping
  2. Intentionally hitting any participant with objects or sporting equipment
  3. Providing alcohol to an athlete under the age of 21
  4. Providing illegal drugs or non-prescribed prescription medications to any athlete
  5. Encouraging or permitting an athlete to return to play prematurely or without the clearance of a medical professional, following a serious injury (i.e. concussion)
  6. Prescribed dieting or other weight-control methods without regard for the nutritional well-being and health of the athlete
 
Non-Contact Offenses
  1. Isolating an athlete in a confined space (i.e. locking an athlete in locker)
  2. Forcing an athlete to assume a painful stance or position for no athletic purpose (i.e. requiring an athlete to kneel on a harmful surface)
  3. Withholding, recommending against, or denying adequate hydration, nutrition, medical attention, or sleep.
Whereas it is very important to understand what physical misconduct is, it is equally important to understand what is not considered physical misconduct.
 
Physical misconduct does not include professionally accepted coaching methods of skill enhancement, physical conditioning, team building, appropriate discipline or improving athlete performance such as assistance with stretching, massage by soigneur, chiropractic work including Active Release Techniques (ART), bumping exercises (exercises performed during practice to build an athlete’s ability to withstand “bumping” that occurs between riders during road races), and seat post holding.  If an athlete is ever uncomfortable with an activity and feels his or her physical boundaries are being violated, they should immediately notify his or her coach.
 
Never be afraid to tell someone that they are making you feel uncomfortable.  It is important for you to voice your feelings and to understand that you have the right to establish your own boundaries.  Cycling is enjoyable and everyone has the right to enjoy the sport they love while remaining comfortable and safe.
 
Questions about SafeSport? Contact USA Cycling's Risk Protection Manager, Jon Whiteman, at jwhiteman@usacycling.org.


This Article Published April 29, 2013 For more information contact:
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