Research (8)

Friday, 17 August 2012 08:26

Inside the Brain of an Elite Athlete

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Abstract | Events like the World Championships in athletics and the Olympic Games raise the
public profile of competitive sports. They may also leave us wondering what sets the
competitors in these events apart from those of us who simply watch. Here we attempt to
link neural and cognitive processes that have been found to be important for elite
performance with computational and physiological theories inspired by much simpler
laboratory tasks. In this way we hope to inspire neuroscientists to consider how their basic
research might help to explain sporting skill at the highest levels of performance.

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Monday, 13 February 2012 08:34

Sexual Exploitation in Sports

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Sexual Exploitation in Sports

Sexual exploitation in sports is not substantially different from sexual exploitation by an educator. However, because of the unique relationship between athletes and coaches, some additional issues need to be addressed.

Millions of children in the United States participate in school or community-based sports programs. Some of the many benefits to these children are learning responsibility, increased self-confidence, positive self-image, learning teamwork, and learning good sportsmanship. Although generally a positive experience, some young athletes risk being sexually abused by their coaches. Reports of coaches being charged with abuse, exploitation, and rape are becoming more and more common.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012 05:13

Elite Child Athlete Welfare Handbook

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Elite Child Athlete Welfare Handbook

The Symposium on which this book is based took place at Brunel University, UK on 17 and 18th June 2010. Participants included researchers from sociology, psychology and sports medicine, policy makers from national and international sport and welfare organisations, and practitioners from various national and international sport governing bodies. All are committed to promoting the best in sport and preventing the worst, and to ensuring that young athletes realise their own potential in the safest possible environment. The purpose of this introductory chapter is to set the scene for the other contributions in the book and to offer some potential frameworks for devising research and policy agendas in this field.

Recent reviews of talent identification and youth sport in the sport science literature are summarised and critiqued in relation to athlete welfare. In particular, it is argued that the ‘time-economic motive’ (Vaeyens et al., 2009) has undermined the prospects for delivering children’s rights in elite sport. The work of Coté and colleagues (2003) is used to illustrate a wider approach to welfare in sport that opens up some possibilities for re-balancing both the discourses and the practices of elite sport for children. The case of Tom Daley, child Olympic diver, is used to highlight some of the welfare challenges facing sport organisations, support staff and others in their attempts to scaffold talented young athletes.  Contradictions and tensions are set out that are intended to guide thinking on how best to cater for the welfare of the elite child athlete.

This study investigated associations between the use of maintenance strategies and relationship quality within coach-athlete dyads. A total of 251 participants (146 athletes and 105 coaches) were administered the Coach-Athlete Relationship Maintenance Questionnaire (CARM-Q) to measure the use of conflict management, openness, motivational, preventative, assurance, support, and social network strategies and the Coach-Athlete Relationship Questionnaire (CART-Q) to measure closeness, commitment, and complementarity.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 19:18


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The investigation of relationship maintenance strategies has received considerable attention in various types of dyads including romantic, marital, and familial relationships. No research, however, has yet investigated the use of maintenance strategies in the coach-athlete partnership. Thus, this study aimed to investigate coaches’ and athletes’ perceptions of the strategies they use to maintain relationship quality.

Written by: Elaine Raakman1, Kim Dorsch2 and Daniel Rhind3

1Justplay Inc., Burlington, ON, Canada E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 2University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 3Centre for Youth Sport and Athlete Welfare, Brunel University, UK


Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a persistent and widespread social practice (Gilbert et al., 2009) predominantly perpetrated by men. In considering the sexual abuse of male children, one is faced with a number of explanatory accounts that say little about the experiences of boys. These can broadly be divided into those that focus on the individual and those that focus on society. Thus, over the last three decades feminist perspectives have challenged individualist accounts (see Ward et al., 2006) that construct the perpetrators of CSA as somehow weak or ill and fundamentally distinct from the wider male population (Cowburn and Dominelli, 2001) whilst ignoring the gendered aspects of sexual exploitation and abuse (e.g. Kelly, 1988; Rush, 1980). According to Seymour (1998: 422) ‘it is evident that the nature of gender socialization in our patriarchal society predisposes males toward child sexual abuse.’

However, both positions are problematic (Brackenridge, 2001) and according to Liddle (1993) there is a missing ‘theoretical linkage’ between the micro (psychology) and the macro (sociology) that frustrates a satisfactory account of this social problem. Cossins (2000) has argued for a sociological theory of CSA but still presents abuse as a pathological response to childhood trauma, albeit prompted by the demands of masculinity.

Sylvie Parent of Laval University examined 3 Quebec sport federations and 3 Quebec sports clubs each affiliated with those organizations respectively to examine the interventions used in cases of sexual abuse and the perceptions of 27 stakeholders within these organizations regarding this issue.  Several factors were identified which impeded the process of disclosure and caused victims to remain silent:  prejudice, beliefs, and myths that seemed to perpetuate a culture of inaction and silence.

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