Tackling Abuse in Sport Through Dispute System Design
University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Vol. 13, p. 434, 2017
26 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2016 Last revised: 9 Jun 2017
Date Written: 2017
Reports of sexual abuse in the youth sports community require sport at every level to be concerned about ensuring the emotional and physical safety of its athletes. To address the problem of sexual abuse in sport, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) commissioned a Working Group on Safe Training Environments, which employed a Dispute System Design (DSD) process in undertaking a comprehensive study focused on the issue of abuse in sport and how to provide a safe training athletic environment for athletes that is free of abuse, also known as SafeSport. The process of Dispute Systems Design provides an analytical framework to address conflict and to develop a process for preventing, managing, and resolving recurring problems in a variety of contexts. DSD can assist organizations seeking to address conflict by providing a systematic approach to help identify the program goals and objectives, stakeholders, a system structure in terms of process options and incentives for use, and resource support.
Through the construct of Dispute System Design (DSD), this Article examines sexual misconduct in youth sports, focusing on USOC efforts to address the detection, prevention, and adjudication of sexual abuse in sport. Section II reports on the problem of abuse in sport, which includes the difficulties in identifying and defining unacceptable conduct in the context of a close trusted relationship between athlete and coach, and concerns with internal reporting systems. Section III examines the process the USOC Working Group on Safe Training Environments employed to formulate its recommendations for SafeSport policy and implementation. Section IV analyzes the effectiveness of the proposed Center for Safe Sport, including proposed systems for reporting, investigating, and sanctioning misconduct. The Article concludes proposing a systems check of dispute system design to facilitate tackling, resolving, and preventing abuse in sport.
Keywords: Dispute System Design, United States Olympic Committee, Sexual Abuse in Sports, Youth Sports, SafeSport, Athlete, Coach
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