We constantly absorb information, and make instant judgments, about situations and people. We’re under the influence of our unconscious biases when we do it. Sometimes, it’s a great thing. We have to make thousands of decisions every single day, and make them quickly, or we’d never get anything done. But sometimes it means that we’re making snap judgments about people that are untrue and unfair. It’s important that we recognise when we’re doing this, reflect on the biases behind such judgements and adjust our thinking. It’s hard changing habits like this.

Thinking differently takes practice. You only stand to gain from it. You can tell when a club doesn’t understand discrimination and its consequences. There will be instances around the club of people being demeaned and treated unfairly because of their age, sex, race or ability. Instances like:

  • A coach telling his male players to stop acting like girls; demeaning both boys and girls in one off-hand remark
  • The club making no effort to improve its accessibility for those with disabilities
  • People from different backgrounds not being made to feel welcome
  • Women not getting a look-in for coaching jobs, being relegated to the canteen instead
  • People complaining about demeaning treatment and being told, ‘It was only a joke’.

The club ultimately misses out on accessing, and retaining, real talents in their communities. Compare this to a club that prides itself on being respectful, safe and fair. People in this club have a good understanding of the impact of discrimination. This club knows that discriminatory behaviour risks everything; new learnings, working well together, and bringing its collective best sides to problems, issues and shared causes. The best clubs appreciate people for their unique backgrounds, dispositions, life stories, experience, capabilities and wisdom. Clubs like these are smart clubs. They harness the potential of all their members.

  • Ageism

    Typecasting someone as too old to do something without any idea of their potential, is ageist discrimination. So is assuming that young people are naïve, inexperienced and incapable, without knowing anything about them. Around your club, you might well see or hear:

    • People saying, “well, what would he know, he’s only a kid,” or “she’s too old to understand.”
    • Younger club people being dismissive of older peoples experience
    • Long-time volunteers being unwelcoming to younger volunteers starting out at the club. 

     

    Judgements like these instantly discount our value and contributions. Being on the receiving end of these dismissive attitudes, our sense of worth and confidence takes a hit, and it can be hard to bounce back. If it happens to one person, chances are it will to others, affecting not only one person’s feelings but the entire cohesion of your club. Not only do people suffer by being excluded, but the club also misses opportunities to realise and benefit from, their incredible potential. It’s a lose-lose.

    A club aspiring to become a place of respect, safety and fun, fairness and success has re-framed things. Lazy assumptions about age, experience and capacity are replaced by a culture that values and embraces the potential of all comers.

    Everyone works respectfully with others in and around the club. Ageism is called out swiftly and dealt with constructively; sanctions are enforced and equally applied to all. Club Respect advice: 

    Step 1 – Take notice

    First, check yourself. Be prepared to subject your own attitudes, behaviours and language to scrutiny, regarding people younger or older than yourself.

    Have you ever thought that a person might be too old to do something or too young to know?

    Step 2 – Be alert

    Be alert to the attitudes, language and behaviours of those around you, such as when a club committee is dismissive of potential new committee members as too young for the role assuming they have no relevant experience.

    Step 3 – Speak up

    It can be difficult and sometimes dangerous to call these things out. This is why people sometimes choose to turn a blind eye and remain uneasily silent.
    But age discrimination, in and around your club, with its negative impacts, will continue unless it is called out by you and others.

    Club Respect Smart Steps will help.

  • Favouritism

    Is someone, or some people, being given preferential treatment over others, without reason or explanation. Around the club, you might be seeing:

    • Coaches giving certain players more time on the court or field, more time and attention 
    • One team appearing to get the better resources and facilities
    • One player getting away with things that other players can’t
    • Team selection processes that aren’t based on performance
    • There appearing to be different sets of rules for different people. Sanctions might exist but they’re certainly not enforced.

    It’s unrealistic that people will remain loyal and committed to the club. Privileging someone over others, treating them like they’re more valuable than others because of a special connection always causes harm, even if it’s not all that visible.

    It’s no fun seeing someone else receiving privileged treatment. It’s no fun watching unfairness played out before your eyes. When we’re overlooked or not treated fairly, our sense of justice takes a hit and team confidence is shaken. 

    Favouritism, or privileging some at the expense of others, is a stab to the heart of club cohesion and the capacity for people to realise their potential through sport. A club aspiring to become a place of respect, safety, fun, fairness and success, has re-framed things.

    Favouritism never gets a look-in because the club has a deep commitment to everyone receiving fair, equal treatment, everyone being valued, respected and welcomed. Everyone works side by side, respectfully, with others in and around the club. Favouritism is called out and dealt with constructively, including sanctions and other ways that measurably strengthen positive club culture.


    Team selection is a complex task. There are always difficult decisions to be made and invariably people miss out. Clubs who document, and consistently implement, a process for team selection minimise the impact on their players. These clubs know that players will be more likely to accept omission from teams if the process is fair, based on merit and communicated effectively. Players feel anger and resentment if the selection process is not transparent. Club Respect’s tips for Favouritism:

    • The club committee should create a fair team selection process that applies to all.
    • This team selection process needs to be made available to all people at the club at the beginning of the season.
    • Coaches must agree to use the process and agree to be held accountable to it.
    • There should be a process for people to report their concerns if they believe the selection of teams is not in line with the guidelines.
    • Communication is key. Coaches should be expected to speak to players prior to the announcement of teams if they are to be omitted.
    • Coach feedback should include the areas the player needs to develop to be considered for inclusion in the team.
    • Develop a clear process for teams playing in finals.

    It is very common for clubs to get this wrong; often selecting the clearly injured star over the player who has contributed consistently all year. Likewise clubs often play individuals in secondary finals because they have ‘qualified’ to play; omitting the player who has committed to the team all year. Some of the issues include:

    • Parents and /or team members complain loudly about the amount of time they or their child have on the ground on game day;
    • About who is being selected for the team;
    • And what positions they are assigned to.

    The way to act on the issues:

    • Advertise your club-wide process for team selection and game time rotations.
    • This can be done physically at the club as well as online.
    • Regularly message coaches, reminding them about their responsibility to maintain club selection processes.
    • Create and advertise on website, a feedback service for parents/players/members to take their grievances to the committee.
    • You might consider using online apps to allow you to keep these anonymous.

    Club Respect’s tips on dealing with Favouritism:

    Step 1 – Take notice

    First, check in on yourself. Be prepared to subject your own attitudes and behaviours to scrutiny. Do you play favourites or allow it to occur? Do you call out issues of team selection or player time on the field?

    Step 2 – Be alert

    Be alert to behaviours of those around you. Such as when a coach continues to play favourites or when the club lets some players get away with bad behaviour just because they are the best players.

    Step 3 – Speak out

    We know that it can be difficult to call out favouritism. We know that this is why people sometimes choose to turn a blind eye and remain uneasily silent.

    But favouritism, in and around your club, with its negative impacts, will continue unless it is called out by you and others. We think people like you are looking for a way to break the cycle of silence, a way that is safe, proactive and consistent.

    Club Respect suggests that issues of favouritism are best dealt with by a club committee. Talk constructively with others connected to the club (parents, supporters) to gauge their feelings and perspectives on the way the club is handling the situation.

    If others are similarly concerned, then together you need to take your concerns to the club committee. You should be able to speak personally to them, in confidence, or should be able to follow an anonymous club complaint process.

    Club Respect Smart Steps will help.

  • LGBTIQA+

    Human beings are an amazingly diverse lot when it comes to identity, temperament, personality, sexuality and gender. Sex and gender discrimination occurs when people are typecast in a negative and limiting way; demeaned simply because of how they identify. Sport mirrors society. Around the club, you might: 

    • Hear derogatory remarks and slurs being made to people’s faces or behind their backs 
    • Notice a general hostility or unfriendliness toward, and suspicion of, people in the club who identify as LGBTIQA+
    • See a marked difference in how the club’s LGBTIQA+ identifying players are treated, compared to others.

    Belittling someone and treating them as if they are of less value because of their identity and sexuality always hurts, always causes harm, even if this isn’t all that visible. Being the butt of crude remarks and put-downs is always hurtful and harmful. It’s no fun being judged as inferior, or a lesser human being by people who don’t challenge themselves to learn about the lived experiences of those who aren’t like them. Being on the receiving end of these attitudes, your sense of worth and confidence takes a hit, and it can be hard to bounce back.

    This discrimination, this form of discounting human value, goes to the heart of health and well-being in our community; social cohesion loses out to individual battles of depression, anxiety, bullying and suicide.

    When a club aspires to become a place of respect, safety, fun, fairness and success, you can guarantee it has re-framed things. Old, ignorant stereotypes are seen as unhelpful and destructive, and club people actively put their mind to replacing them with the club expectations that everyone is valued, respected and welcomed.

    Everyone works side by side, respectfully, with others in and around the club. The discrimination is called out and dealt with constructively; club people support each other in holding one another to account, and sanctions are applied to those who discriminate against the LGBTIQA+ community. Club Respect advice:

    Step 1 – Take notice

    Be prepared to subject your own attitudes, behaviours and language to scrutiny regarding people belonging to LGBTIQA+ communities. What do you really think and feel about people who are different to you in regard to sex and gender identification?

    Step 2 – Be alert

    Be alert to the attitudes, language and behaviours of those around you, such as when a coach, a spectator or a parent says to a player, “your type don’t belong on our team”.

    Step 3 – Speak up

    It can be difficult and sometimes dangerous to call out discrimination based on gender identity, sexual identity or sexuality. We know that this is why people sometimes choose to turn a blind eye and remain uneasily silent.

    But, sex and gender discrimination, in and around your club, with its negative impacts, will continue unless it is called out by you and others.

    We think people like you are looking for a way to break the cycle of silence, a way that is safe, proactive and consistent.

    Club Respect Smart Steps will help.

  • Racism

    Typecasting someone in a negative and limiting way, simply because of their skin colour, nationality or culture, is racism. Around your club, you might see or hear: 

    • Spectators yelling racial slurs from the sidelines
    • People’s general suspicion of, and hostility and unfriendliness toward people from different cultural backgrounds
    • Derogatory ‘jokes’ in and around the club.

    Treating them as less-than because of how they look or where they’re from always hurts, always causes harm, even if it’s not all that visible. It’s no fun being the butt of crude, racist remarks and put downs. It’s no fun being judged as inferior, or a lesser human being by others who find it difficult to accept and value the differences of race, nationality and culture.

    Being on the receiving end of racist attitudes and language, our sense of worth and confidence takes a hit, and it can be hard to bounce back. Victims and their families are harmed. This racist behavior that discounts the value of others in this way, goes to the heart of significant issues of social cohesion, leading to depression, anxiety, bullying and suicide, at the cost of health and well-being.

    When a club aspires to become a place of respect, safety, fun, fairness and success, you can guarantee it has re-framed things. Old, unhelpful racist stereotypes are being replaced with club expectations that everyone is valued, respected and welcomed.

    Everyone works side by side, respectfully, with others in and around the club. Racist behaviours are called out and dealt with constructively including sanctions and other ways that measurably strengthen positive club culture. Club Respect advice:

    Step 1 – Take notice

    First, check in on yourself. Be prepared to subject your own attitudes, behaviours and language to scrutiny regarding race, nationality and different cultures and different faiths. What do you really think and feel about people who are different to your race, faith and culture?

    Step 2 – Be alert

    Be alert to the attitudes, language and behaviours of those around you. Such as when a coach, a spectator or a parent says to a player, ‘why don’t you go back where you came from!’

    Step 3 – Speak up

    We know that it can be difficult and sometimes dangerous to call out racism. We know that this is why people sometimes choose to turn a blind eye and remain uneasily silent.

    But, racist behaviour, in and around your club, with its negative impacts, will continue unless it is called out by you and others.

    We think people like you are looking for a way to break the cycle of silence, a way that is safe, proactive and consistent.

    Club Respect Smart Steps will help.

  • Sexism

    Sexism is typecasting someone in a negative and limiting way, demeaning them simply because of their sex or gender. While sexist commentary about women is more common, men can also find themselves targeted in demeaning ways because of their sex and gender. Around the club, you might hear or see:

    • Coaches and supporters telling boys they’re weak, soft, to ‘man up’, don’t be a sissy or wuss
    • Girls being excluded from participating or given less access to facilities
    • Homophobic slurs being made by people on and off the field
    • Talented women not being given the chance to coach, because only men are assumed to have this capacity
    • Men not actively encouraged to work in the canteen, because this is seen as “women’s work.”

     

    Belittling someone and treating them as if they’re of less value because of their sex and gender always hurts, always causes harm, even if this is not all that visible.

    It’s no fun being the butt of crude, gendered remarks and sexist put downs. It’s no fun being judged as inferior, or a lesser human being by others who find it difficult to accept and live the concept of equality between men and women. Invariably, when someone is on the receiving end of sexist attitudes and language, their sense of worth and confidence takes a hit and it can be hard to bounce back.

    Sexist behaviour, where the values of others are discounted, goes to the heart of significant issues of health and well-being in our community like depression, anxiety, sexual harassment, family violence, bullying and suicide.

    When a club aspires to become a place of respect, safety, fun, fairness and success, you can guarantee it has re-framed things. Old, unhelpful gender stereotypes are replaced with club expectations that everyone’s experience and talent is to be recognised and maximised.

    Everyone works side by side, respectfully, with others in and around the club. Sexist behaviours are called out and dealt with constructively, including through sanctions and other ways that measurably strengthen positive club culture. Club Respect advice:

    Step 1 – Take notice

    First, check yourself. Be prepared to subject your own attitudes, behaviours and language to scrutiny regarding sex and gender. Ask yourself:

        • What do you really think and feel about women and girls in society?
        • What do you really think and feel about people with different gender identities?

    Step 2 – Be alert

    Be alert to the attitudes, language and behaviours of those around you. Such as when a coach, a spectator or a parent says to a boy, ‘you’re playing like a girl!’

    Step 3 – Speak up

    We know that it can be difficult and sometimes dangerous to call out sexism. We know that this is why people sometimes choose to turn a blind eye and remain uneasily silent. But, sexist behaviour, in and around your club, with its negative impacts, will continue unless it’s called out by you and others. We think people like you are looking for a way to break the cycle of silence, a way that is safe, proactive and consistent.

    Club Respect Smart Steps will help.

  • 'Closed' clubs

    The way your club is run is crucial to its success on and off the field. There are clubs run by a ‘closed’ group.

    While this situation is often described as a ‘boys’ club’ or ‘old guard’, it isn’t always exclusively male. This kind of closed group has been around for ages, keeping the power firmly in its own hands, and probably dominated by one or two people. These closed groups tend to:

    • Resist change
    • Rarely share information or power
    • Believe their way is the only way
    • Make everyone else take a backseat.

    These are really difficult clubs to belong to. You can’t see where and how decisions are made, how fees are managed and used, and you have no say in club direction. People often leave clubs like this.

    For a club to become a place of deep respect, safety and fairness, its governing structure needs to be genuinely diverse, inclusive and democratic. Decision-making in this kind of club is transparent. People sitting on committees are valued and listened to, there is no intimidation by a club President who knows it all and slaps people down.

    Changing to such a culture mightn’t be easy but it can be done. The rewards are worth the effort. Achieving cultural change in the club means working respectfully and civilly with everyone, including the ‘boys’ club’, if it exists.

    It’s about setting a new, fresh standard of behaviour in place. Revitalisation is good for any club. Better still, when the transformation is about a club becoming a place of respect, fun, safety and success, everyone benefits.

    Ways you can approach the club:

    Step 1: 

      • It’s best not to work alone, you’ll need the support of others.
      • Work as constructively as possible with the closed group, avoiding unnecessary division and conflict.
      • It’s best to start by having a conversation with someone in the club who has established links to the administrative group, someone you feel you can trust.

     

    Step 2: 

      • There’s no substitute for being reasonable, working with reliable evidence, and established facts.
      • Talk constructively with others connected to the club (parents, supporters) to gauge their feelings and perspectives on the way the club’s currently being operated.
      • Do your homework; familiarise yourself with club operations and policies and have a clear idea of how these stack up against other clubs that seem to be operating in a more open and transparent way.
      • Bring together a group of people, (doesn’t have to be a big group,) who share your interest in changing club culture for the better. Together, develop your case as to how the club can lift its game and become a place of respect, safety and fairness.
      • When your group meets the committee,  insist on civility, honesty and a respectful hearing.

     

    Step 3: 

      • In making your case, make sure you include some achievable, positive ideas that can readily be adopted by the club.
      • Keep them simple, and easy to implement, such as a one-page document from the committee to members that outlines how fees are collected and distributed across the club.

     

    Step 4: 

      • Model composure and respect in all of your interactions.
      • Remember, if club personalities or identities go low – you go high!

     

    Step 5: 

      • Yelling and screaming, making put-down remarks or escalating anger and resentment achieves little.
      • Collaboration, and working together on issues in common, always works best.

     

    Club Respect Smart Steps will help.