Last updated: 25.02.20

Duty of Care in Sport

The concept of a duty of care in sports is an integral part of the concept of sports safeguarding. Duty of care focuses on an individual’s ability to ensure the wellbeing of others from a moral and legal standpoint.

So what does ‘duty of care’ actually mean, and how does it play into the world of sports? Read on to find out:

What is a duty of care?

A duty of care is the obligation of an individual or an organisation to promote, preserve and ensure the safety and welfare of others. When an individual or organisation has a duty of care over a group of people, it is required, either morally or legally, to take measures to protect this group from harm. This can include physical harm arising from environmental or working conditions, or mental harm from emotional trauma. This covers the individuals and groups when carrying out work or activities on the premises or orders of the organisation.

When the organisation fails to adequately provide the protection required by the duty of care, this is known in legal terms as a ‘breach of duty’ and can result in court claims and legal ramifications.

What is a duty of care in sport?

When it comes to sport and all of the activities that come under that banner, the duty of care usually falls to sports clubs and teams, and the coaches who work under them. Those who fall under the duty of care are the team members for whom the club should take all reasonable precautions and measures to protect from injury and distress.

With the physical aspect of sports, a good way to work towards establishment the boundaries of a duty of care is to carry out a risk assessment for each activity organised within a sporting club. This allows any potential of harm to be catalogued and any risks safely mitigated.

The duty of care in sport when working with children.

Duty of care is particularly relevant when working with children in sports. One of the ideas suggested by UK Child Protection in Sport Unity is that coaches should aim to assess every situation and act like a teacher or a ‘reasonably prudent parent’, to get an idea of how far their duty of care should stretch. This means carrying out the duty of care to an extent which is reasonable to expect from a parent, and that acting below that standard may be regarded as a breach of care.

There are many elements which make up the duty of care in the sporting sphere, and our excellent range of safeguarding courses can help you develop an understanding of this moral and legal obligation. To find your relevant course, visit our course pages here.

You can also check out our useful and informative downloadable resources, including this poster on the duty of care in sport, and the signs of child abuse in spot.