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The Observatory for Sport in Scotland works closely with respected sport institutes around the world and one of our partners, the Danish Institute for Sports Studies (IDAN), this week shone the light on research from Canada that asks serious questions of sport’s ability to properly look after children.

The Canadian study interviewed over 1,000 current and former participants from national teams and found that 17 percent had experienced psychologically harmful behaviour while playing sport, 15 percent reported eating disorder behaviour and 13 percent had experienced suicidal thoughts. Perhaps most worryingly, only a small minority admitted to reporting their experiences to their club or sport organisation.

In this article from Play the Game/Danish Institute for Sports Studies, writers Søren Bang, Christina Friis-Johansen and Jens Alm reflect on how, despite sport being promoted as good for children and society at large, there is a growing awareness of the downsides of sport that can turn children into victims rather than winners.

There is widespread research and evidence of the wider values of sport for physical and mental health in all ages of people, in the right hands and right environments. But clearly sport does not always get it right and research such as this can help coaches, teachers, parents, administrators and others involved in sport look closely at those environments and methods if sport is genuinely to be a welcoming place for all.

We would like to hear your views on this research and whether it resonates with experiences in Scottish sport. Get in touch at: