Research Handbook of Employment Relations in Sport
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Research Handbook of Employment Relations in Sport

Edited by Michael Barry, James Skinner and Terry Engelberg

Employment relations, much discussed in other industries, has often been neglected in professional sports despite its unique characteristics. The book aims to explore in detail the unique nature of the employment relationship in professional sports and the sport industry.
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Chapter 13: Hiding in plain sight: sexual harassment in sport

Terry Engelberg and Stephen Moston


Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that affects men and women in several organizational contexts, including sport. Research suggests that inappropriate sexualized and sexist attitudes and behavior are often condoned as “part of sport.” This chapter examines the origins of sexual harassment as a social issue, noting the difficulties in defining the issue and assessing its incidence. Research indicates that sexual harassment (mainly of female athletes) is prevalent in sport, although women in other spheres of sport, such as sport science students or sport journalists experience harassment also. Although these behaviors are considered sexual harassment, women in sport appear to be more accepting of such behaviors than women in other work or education contexts. Regrettably, inquiry into sexual harassment has oftentimes been dismissed as an irrelevance that interferes with the core business of “winning.” This position is ultimately damaging to the industry, creating an environment that undermines employment relations.

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