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Hiding in plain sight: Sexual harassment in sport
chapterposted on 06.09.2018, 00:00 by T Engelberg, Stephen Moston
Sexual harassment is a social issue that can evoke highly polarized attitudes (Engelberg & Moston, 1997). To some it is a serious problem, requiring draconian actions with implications for all personal relationships within the workplace. Yet to others, it is an issue that is both trivial and humorous. These differing positions are, in part, due to the different ways in which we understand what is meant by sexual harassment. Over the last few decades, the media have compounded this confusion, with stories being featured more for their titillation value rather than their actual significance or representativeness. While these problems are characteristic of many other social issues, they are especially significant within the context of sexual harassment since it is still a relatively new phenomenon. In this chapter we examine the issue of sexual harassment in sport. To date, there has been limited research on sexual harassment in the context of sport. This is particularly troubling as the extensive body of research from other settings, such as the workplace and within academia, suggests that the sporting world has many of the features that promote a culture where sexual harassment can occur (Fasting, Chroni, & Knorre, 2014; Tomlinson & Yorganci, 1997). For example, skewed gender ratios (e.g., an absence of women in managerial positions), sexualized atmospheres (e.g., scantily clad cheerleaders), and organizational power (e.g., the power held by coaches) have all been found to influence the incidence of sexual harassment. The problem of sexual harassment in sport runs so deep that even students of sporting disciplines (e.g., sports sciences) are at a greater risk of experiencing sexual harassment than students from other disciplines (Fasting, Chroni, Hervik, & Knorre, 2011).