Risk management practices of high school sport coaches and administrators
Sport and recreation constitute a significant part of the learning experiences at schools in South Africa. They provide the subject matter of learning and instruction in sport and physical education. Research on safety in sport has been conducted in the USA, Britain, Canada, Australia and other developed countries since the 1950s. There is a paucity of empirical, evidence-based information on safety and security of learners participating in sport activities in South Africa. The purpose of this study was to identify the key safety dimensions of school sport, and to assess the risk management practices implemented by coaches and administrators at high schools. The aim was also to highlight the chief problems associated with safety in sport and to develop strategies to protect learners. The findings could raise awareness of coaches, administrators and relevant role players concerning their legal duties. A previously validated and pilot tested instrument was used to gather data. Purposive sampling was done in three provinces. Several dimensions and individual safety factors were not adequately addressed by relevant personnel, and certain basic minimum requirements were not met at a fair number of schools. These findings support previous reports by researchers that coaches and administrators are not adequately aware of, or do not fully appreciate the implications of their legal liability relative to sports activities at schools. Recommendations and guidelines have been offered to enable coaches and educators manage potential risks so that athletes and other learners experience a non-threatening environment where they gain optimally from sports activities.
Key words: Safety; Learners; Coaches; Administrators; Liability; Risk management