Physical Misconduct

Almost all sport involves strenuous physical activity: in practices and competition, athletes regularly push themselves to the point of exhaustion. While these efforts are a necessary part of improving performance, any activity that physically harms an athlete – such as direct contact with coaches or teammates, disciplinary actions or punishment – is unacceptable.

Physical misconduct involves contact or non-contact behavior that can cause physical harm to an athlete or other sport participants. It also includes any act or conduct described as physical abuse or misconduct under federal or state law (e.g., child abuse, child neglect and assault). It can even extend to areas such as inadequate recovery times for injuries and diet.

Physical misconduct does not include professionally accepted coaching methods of skill enhancement, physical conditioning, team building, appropriate discipline or improving athlete performance.

One of the best ways to promote safe conditions is to understand exactly where the boundaries lie and take a team approach to monitoring athletes.

Examples of Physical Misconduct

Contact offenses

  • Punching, beating, biting, striking, choking or slapping an athlete
  • Intentionally hitting an athlete with objects or sporting equipment
  • Providing alcohol to an athlete under the legal drinking age (under U.S. law)
  • Providing illegal drugs or non-prescribed medications to any athlete
  • Encouraging or permitting an athlete to return to play prematurely or without the clearance of a medical professional, following a serious injury (e.g., a concussion)
  • Prescribed dieting or other weight-control methods (e.g., weigh-ins, caliper tests) without regard for the nutritional well-being and health of athlete

Non-contact offenses

  • Isolating an athlete in a confined space (e.g., locking an athlete in a small space)
  • Forcing an athlete to assume a painful stance or position for no athletic purpose (e.g. requiring an athlete to kneel on a harmful surface)
  • Withholding, recommending against or denying adequate hydration, nutrition, medical attention or sleep.