Elite athletes are not immune from mistreatment. In fact, they are actually at greater risk for nearly every type of misconduct. Research shows athletes skilled enough to play college sports are two times more likely than high school athletes to have witnessed or experienced hazing. A sizeable majority of advanced competitive athletes report enduring some form of emotional abuse during their careers. And studies suggest higher rates of sexual abuse among Olympic athletes.
Unfortunately, all the data leads us to one conclusion – elite athletes are more likely to experience misconduct.
Even with this evidence some athletes and coaches actually still believe a certain amount of mistreatment is acceptable, or may even be part of the price to pay to be a medal winner. That’s never the case. If you know of an abused athlete who became a champion, that athlete won despite the abuse, not because of it. Don’t fool yourself or be convinced otherwise.
Mistreating an athlete serves no productive purpose in sport. In addition to the direct harm it causes the individual, misconduct threatens sports participation at all levels, damages team cohesion, and compromises the athlete’s ability to perform to their potential.
Research in the fields of sports performance and human physiology show athletes going through these types of interpersonal stressors suffer decreased focus and concentration during competition, do not maintain muscle mass as well, are more prone to injury, and experience prolonged recovery periods. And these are just a few examples of the detrimental effects of athlete misconduct.