The implementation of the Sport Psychology as a strategic tool to promote integrity and to tackle violence, discrimination, intolerance and match-fixing among young practitioners of grassroots sports.
The great showcase for dissemination and transference will be the presentation and announcement of the results of the project during the ISSP 14th World Congress of Sport and Exercise Psychology
“SPORT PSYCHOLOGY AS A STRATEGIC TOOL FOR PREVENTION AND TRAINING ON GRASSROOTS SPORTS”
- Erasmus+ Sport Programme (Call EAC/A04/14, Round 2)
- Application Nr.: 567199-EPP-1-2015-2-ES-SPO-SCP
- Start date: 01/01/2016
- End date: 31/12/2017
- Duration (months): 24
Sport is a growing social and economic phenomenon which makes an important contribution to the European Union’s strategic objectives of solidarity and prosperity. However, sport is confronted with a number of threats from which athletes, particularly young athletes, and citizens in general, need to be protected.
Racism and violence challenge the fundamental values of European political and cultural integration. Equally, racism and violence in sports jeopardize the role of sports as an important contributor in the fields of education and social inclusion. The 2011 Commission Communication “Developing the European Dimension in Sport” already put the accent on the need to prevent and fight against violence and intolerance (Chapter 2.3). More specifically, it recognized that racism, violence and other forms of intolerance continue to pose problems in European sport, including at the amateur level, and called for reinforced cooperation amongst relevant stakeholders.
In sports is easy to understand the relationships between young people and adults, power and obedience. However, discrimination in many different forms, are associated with shame or discomfort, and lack the ability to manage the tools for asking for help, it is difficult to fight against this problem.
The prevalence of violence in sport is well known. We have evidence in countries like Australia (31% of female and 21% of male have been reported), in Norway (studies revealed that 28% of female had violence issues) or UK (reported 34% of female and 17% of male had violence issues). Many cases have been very “famous” because there was a “long term problem” between coaches and sports practitioners like in Spain (gymnastics, synchronized swimming, rowing, etc.), or in the Netherlands in judo, or in Denmark in martial arts, as well as professional football in Spain, where spectators threw bananas at African and Brazilian black players and shouted gorilla sounds.
In addition to violence in sport, athletes also experience sexual discrimination. Gays or lesbians have hidden his/her sexual inclination in order to preserve his/her life from discrimination. They experience discrimination through negative comments, through jokes and comments about clothes, their private lives, and sexual preference. It is important to this problem exists all over the world.
In fact, one of the most widespread problems is that people sometimes do not have a clear idea about the definition of discrimination, sexual harassment, violence and other terms, probably because it is part of “our culture in sports” to touch, and to massage, even if the coach is not a physiotherapist, so physical contact and body contact is “normally” considered correct. Common expressions in different languages could be, and in some cases are, clearly offensive, but most people assume that it is “normal”.
Over the last several years, Europe has recognized these problems, and given the European Projects the opportunity to study these phenomenons and create programs to confront them. Many countries have made significant progress in this field. In 2003, the UE Parliament Resolution on women and sport urged its Member States to adopt measures for the education, prevention and the elimination of any kind of discrimination in sports. The UE Parliament Resolution created tools to tackle those attitudes and provided information to educate parents, athletes, staff, sports organizations, and even created specific disciplinary rules and laws to be applied in different cases.
Why Sport Psychology?
Sport psychology professionals individually, as well as sport psychology societies collectively, are concerned about violent behaviours associated to sport participation. In that sense, the International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP) wrote a position stand relative to aggression and violence in sport (Tenenbaum, Stewart, Singer & Duda, 1997) where a set of recommendations for all sport participants was detailed. Among others, those recommendations included penalty revisions for management sport organizations, relativization of isolated violent incidents for sport journalists, and participation on sport violence and aggression prevention workshops for coaches, managers, athletes and officials. A further review of these recommendations by Kerr (1999; 2002) suggested that at the end of the last Century they lacked a fundamental element: how sport psychology could meet those specific actions.
In the last 15 years, multiple programs, many of them proposed by Steven Danish and his colleagues, have focused on teaching life skills to prevent violent behaviours and to promote social responsibility in general (Danish, Fazio, Nellen, & Owens, 2002; Papacharisis, Goudas, Danish & Theodorakis, 2005). These programs have proven its effectiveness to prevent antisocial behaviours in sport participants and have pushed the boundaries of the role for sport psychology practitioners.
In Spain, different campaigns have been developed to prevent violence and promote sportsmanship in grassroots sports such as the “Compta fins a tres” (i.e., Catalan equivalent to “count to three” which means think in what you will do before you do it). In this campaign, three points were emphasized: (1) Cheer for effort as much as for success, (2) Respect decisions from coaches and officials, and (3) Show sportsmanship (Cruz, Boixadós, Torregrosa & Valiente, 2000).
In sports, everyone has to do their best to win, but if we want to educate children through sport in order to win a game, we have to take into account that not only do they need to score more than the opposite team, but fair play behaviours and verbalizations of players and spectators also matter.
Our reflection, as sport psychologists from a cognitive-behavioural perspective, is that if we want to change the values in youth sports and prevent violence, discrimination and intolerance, we have to change the contingencies of the sport context as well, especially the ones related to parents and spectators. We need to reward parents for their supportive behaviour towards referees and applaud the players fair play behaviours towards their opponents.
We have to remark at this point that Sport Psychology is a relatively young discipline within psychology and it is focused on the study of how psychology influences sports, athletic performance, exercise, and physical activity.
PsyTool project is a collaborative partnership that allows a group of stakeholders from different sport backgrounds to collaborate in the establishment of a network to take full advantage from the implementation of the Sport Psychology as a strategic tool to promote integrity and to tackle violence, discrimination, intolerance and match-fixing among young practitioners of grassroots sports.
This is because sport, which makes an important contribution to the EU strategic objectives of solidarity and prosperity, is confronted with a number of threats from which athletes, particularly young athletes, and citizens in general, need to be protected, such as violence, any kind of discrimination, intolerance and even the manipulation of results.
In this context, the specific objectives of PsyTool project are the following:
– Obtain more objective data on the impact of violence, discrimination, intolerance and even match-fixing among young practitioners of grassroots sports and to identify good practices applied at European level.
– Create educational and innovative tools based on sport psychology to promote integrity and to tackle these harmful factors.
– Train “Agents of change” for recognizing potential dangerous situations and for reacting in an adequate way.
– Prove this new approach and test its results on the field (over young practitioners of grassroots sports) through a pilot experience.
– Disseminate, extend, transfer and sustain the use of the new tools developed.
Therefore, PsyTool takes account of the social, educational and cultural functions inherent in sport and it looks for to complement and to enrich the European policies in this field, bringing innovative approaches for promoting integrity and for fighting against violence, discrimination, intolerance and match-fixing among young practitioners of grassroots sports, thanks to the use of Sport Psychology as a strategic tool of high value for prevention and training.
The first step of the methodology proposed is to carry out the research phase with the purposes of:
- Identify the state of the art concerning sport psychology in the different contexts.
- Research of tools that assess violence, discrimination, intolerance and even match-fixing in the practice of grassroots sports in the different context.
- Hand out the research tools among identified practitioners.
- Assessing and reporting the results from the completion of research tools.
- Definition of the European state of the art of existing tools for promoting integrity and for fighting against violence, discrimination, intolerance and match-fixing in the practice of grassroots sports.
Next step is the identification of “Agents of change” (managers, referees, coaches, teachers, professors and students of physical education and psychology of sport, among others), who will be the kind of professionals that will be selected to take part of the PsyTool training.
The next important milestone will be the creation of the Web Educational Tool – PsyTool Platform, that will be created to train the “Agents of change” and the elaboration of training materials for them.
Once the training material has been developed, the implementation phase will start. It is integrated by two main activities, which will impact into main project direct target groups: the “Agents of change” and the final beneficiaries (young practitioners of grassroot sports). These activities are:
- Training period of “Agents of change”: composed by both online and face-to-face trainings.
- Pilot Workshops to final beneficiaries: young practitioners of grassroots sports. This will allow testing the benefits of PsyTool training and evaluate the results, with the aim to improve and enhance its impact.
At the same time, evaluation and monitoring activity will be carry out. From the beginning of project implementation, PsyTool will develop a monitoring tool kit that will serve to control de quality and allow improvement of all project phases.
Finally, it has been foreseen a powerful dissemination strategy in the frame of PsyTool project. The great showcase for dissemination and transference will be the presentation and announcement of the results of the project during the ISSP 14th World Congress of Sport and Exercise Psychology, which will be held in Seville (Spain), 10-14 July 2017, with the motto “The integration of science and practice through multicultural bridges, gender and social equality”, which will gather more than 1.000 participants from 50 countries from all around the World.
Innovative aspects of Psytool
A very important innovative aspect of PsyTool project is our approach based on sport psychology, as a strategic and innovative tool, to promote integrity and to tackle violence, intolerance, match-fixing and any kind of discrimination among young practitioners of grassroots sports.
Sport psychology, as a science which promotes behavioural change, should intervene in sporting context and should not only avoid harmful episodes and bad practices, but also promote fair play and tolerance. At the same time, we will promote the establishment of a network at European level that allows a group of stakeholders from different sport backgrounds (Universities, Sport Federation, NGOs, Professional Clubs, etc.) to foster the relevance of sport psychology as a tool for promoting integrity and for fighting against violence, discrimination, intolerance and match-fixing in the field of grassroots sports.
Although PsyTool project is focused on grassroots sports, it has a partnership with two professional football clubs (Sevilla FC through its Foundation and Sporting Clube de Portugal Futebol). These clubs will act as excellent showcases and provide highly skilled speakers for the dissemination, transfer and sustainability of the results of this project, thanks to their huge mass media impact, not only at national level but also at European an international level (both of them have millions of fans all around the world).
PayTool will also offer performance models adapted to the reality of young practitioners of grassroots sports particularly vulnerable to episodes of violence, discrimination and intolerance: women, immigrants, members of ethnic minorities, gay people, etc. creating new educational materials (training modules) for a new skill “Agents of change” and a new educational tool using the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to impact target beneficiaries through training activities and to enhance awareness rising activities on the value of sport psychology as a tool for promoting integrity and for fighting against any kind of violence within the practice of sports among young people.
PsyTool project is focused on how to work on the promotion of one new style of interaction, through the creation of the figure of an expert on good practices and the dissemination of this innovative idea at different levels of complexity.
We also aspire to be an effective factor of articulating the transfer of “Agents of change” at European level, including any kind of sports at amateur and professional levels, and even with countries in other regions (Latin America, Middle East, etc.).
Psytool will use the ICT and modern methods of communication for more effective and efficient management of its activities, including the organization of a viral video contest at the European level for spreading visual messages inspired goals of the PsyTool project.
Finally, we will encourage reflection, discussion and creativity to design new models for promoting integrity and for fighting against violence, discrimination, intolerance and even match-fixing in sports, while promoting sport psychology as a strategic tool of high value for prevention and training. In this sense, a crucial point is the dissemination of the results of the project at great scale, primarily participating in the ISSP 14th World Congress of Sport and Exercise Psychology, which will be held in Seville (Spain).