Athlete welfare and the duty of care at sport discussed at a special symposium at Oxford Brookes

Tuesday, 03 November 2020

Athlete Z

 

On Thursday 29 October, over 300 attended an online symposium at Oxford Brookes. The ‘Athlete Z: Where will we draw the line in sport?’ event was organised by Oxford Brookes Sports and Coaching staff in partnership with UK Coaching and was attended by students and staff at Oxford Brookes and coaches, athletes and members of National Governing Bodies.   Dr Adam White, Lecturer in Sport & Coaching Sciences, Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work, commented:

 "The recent Athlete A documentary on netflix reignited discussions of athlete welfare in sport, including inspiring survivors of abuse in UK sport to come forward and speak up. While this is an important issue, it is not a new one. We all need to be better at improving all of sport to be more inclusive and participant centred, as it is no longer good enough that most people have good intentions. We hope this event, as the first in our athlete z series, continues the debate on how we make sport better” 

There were some fascinating presentations including care, welfare, exploitation and injury, which raised the stimulating question, where will we draw the line on athlete welfare in sport? Nevertheless, a key highlight of the symposium was speaker Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. Former Wheelchair Racer and current Politician, Tanni opened up the symposium by discussing the importance of duty of care in athletes. Her engaging talk gave an insightful look into athlete experiences and the importance of funding and making change.  

The system is not broken but it is frail around the edges... we have to admit that a culture of fear does exist and have an open and honest conversation about the challenges"- Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Later on in the symposium, there were two insightful and thought-provoking Q&A panel’s led by Rosie Collins and Dr Simon Phelan. Firstly, joining Rosie for the Q&A portion were two former athletes, GB Judoaca Andy Burns and Cath Bishop, former British Rower. As previous athletes, it was ever so important to hear previous experiences of welfare and care, and where they believed changes could be made in the future. 

“For it to be considered caring we have to act on what is needed”- Dr Colum Cronin 

Secondly, guest speakers were asked to join Simon for the final Q&A portion. Taking questions which were sent in from the audience via Twitter and Zoom, panelists joined together to answer important questions and to discuss how sport practitioners, coaches, NGB’s can make a difference in the welfare of athletes. 

“We have some serious moral and ethical questions to answer.”- Dr Karen Hind. 

We would like to thank Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Dr Mel Lang, Dr Karen Hind, Dr Colum Cronin, Dr Niels Feddersen, Dr Joe Piggin, Heather Douglas, Andy Burns and Cath Bishop for taking the time to present on such an important topic. Thank you to those who attended the symposium online and for those who were unable to attend, you can watch the recording of the event

On the 21st January 2021 at 13.00, Oxford Brookes will be holding another important online symposium ‘Athlete Z: Who do we include in sport?’.

Register for this event