Coaches of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) recently distributed the above two policy documents to sports administrators throughout Canada. The Code and Policy seek to create a national, coordinated mechanism whereby organizations can discipline those who engage in prohibited conduct in sport. The rationale is to protect athletes and participants from misconduct by those individuals (coaches, officials, volunteers, administrators) who occupy positions of trust and authority.
One unique element of the Code and Policy is that the CCES will maintain a national registry of individuals who have been disciplined under the Code. This is a great idea and will make it far more difficult for offenders to move quietly under that radar among different sports or different jurisdictions. We support the overall objectives of the Code and Policy, and encourage all organizations to consider them carefully.
However, a few cautions are in order:
1. If you already have a Code of Conduct and discipline policy, which contain procedurally fair hearing procedures (something all NSOs and most PSOs have in place because their government funders require it) then you need to incorporate only some components of the Code into your own policy documents. Most importantly, your policies must reflect the nine prohibitions contained within the Code. However, if you adopt the Code as presented in its entirety, you create the potential for duplication and confusion within your own policy framework. Integrating the Code into your existing policies can be a complex task.
2. In order to participate in the national registry portion of the Policy, you need to adopt the Canadian Policy on Prohibited Conduct in its entirety. This is really simple to do and would not create any significant conflicts with your other policy documents.
3. Be mindful that the Policy and Code do not apply to athletes or participants. This is an omission that might not be appropriate in your situation. In many sports it is common to have younger and older athletes training together and in these scenarios older athletes are often in a position of trust and influence over younger athletes (gymnastics, swimming and diving are sports where this is common). In recreational settings and in sports involving masters athletes, one could also argue that the prohibitions of the Code should apply to all individuals in positions of authority, including athletes and participants. This discussion is a good one to have in your particular circumstances, and it might also be a little complicated.
If all of the above leaves you confused, we understand. Feel free to contact us for more information on the Code and Policy, or for help in integrating the Code and Policy into your organization’s specific policy framework.