Would Your Student-Athlete Make the Right Call?

By Karri Dawson, Senior Director, Quality Sport.

A teammate is using banned stimulants before games to get an energy boost. If she gets caught, the entire team could be suspended from playing in their school league.

A new player on the team is being bullied, but the coach isn’t doing anything about it.

A group of friends show up drunk to the football game.

A nude selfie of a teammate is being shared via text message, but she doesn’t know about it yet.

A friend has a concussion and wants to play in the championship game.

These are difficult scenarios at any age. For high school students, the risks are high and the pressures to succeed and conform are intense. Peer pressure today is nothing like what their parents or grandparents felt.

Consider the temptation to use appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs. A recent survey by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) found that 18 per cent of Canadian youth between the ages of 10 and 17—an estimated 600,000 kids—are at risk of using these substances, while 200,000 have admitted to using them at least once in the last year. About half of young users are motivated solely by the promise of looking better, and most Canadian youth—users and non-users alike—are largely unaware of the potentially dangerous side effects of steroids.

In light of these and other startling statistics, the True Sport Foundation contracted the CCES to develop Make the Call, a unique program that offers a practical framework to help young athletes and their peers navigate the difficult decisions ahead of them.

Make the Call is designed for students aged 15 to 18 who either participate in sport or are part of a Grade 11 or 12 physical and health education program. This age group corresponds with the “Train to Compete” stage of the Long-Term Athlete Development model.

The program includes a dynamic and interactive e-learning course and a set of complementary classroom tools covering 10 lessons. Developed by leading experts, the program offers up-to-date information and dispels common myths.

The most practical parts of the program are the case studies and scenarios, where students are encouraged to debate a range of tough, topical issues – including the use of banned substances, cheating, and bystander intervention. Through discussion and debate, they weigh the options and consider the consequences of making certain choices.

The real goal here is to equip our students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to make their own ethical decisions through scenarios that put their values to the test.

By creating their own personal codes of conduct, students come away from the program with an ethical compass and a practical understanding of how to use it.

The course is available free of charge to teachers, coaches, students, athletes and anyone else with an interest in these issues through School Sport Canada at http://schoolcoach.ca. The classroom tools and additional information can be found at http://cces.ca/make-the-call.