Study finds Attitude-Behaviour Disconnect in Sport

Researchers from the Sport Inclusion Project presented new research examining the use of homophobic and sexist language by semi-professional ice hockey players.

The study examined the use of language through surveys conducted with all eight Australian Ice Hockey League teams. The research was driven by the Melbourne Mustangs, with the support of Amnesty International, as part of their annual Pride Game activities. Hockey, led by the National Hockey League, has been a world-leader in hosting public events designed to send a message of inclusion to LGBT people.

Erik Denison presented the findings at the 2019 Sport and Society Conference in Toronto, Canada.

The study found players had generally positive attitudes toward women and gay people, yet frequently used slurs and told derogatory jokes. The language was being driven by peer pressure/influence. This is consistent with research in rugby by the Sport Inclusion Project researchers.

Players believed they needed to use the language to 'fit in' to their teams, and used the language without thinking about the harm it could caused if overhead by female teams, or if a teammate was hiding their sexuality.

"In order to stop the language, we need these older players to stop using this language as that's the only way for the culture that supports this language use to change," Erik Denison told the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. "We need to recruit captains to be champions and role models."

You can watch Erik's interview on national television in Canada below.

You can read more about the study in this news article about the research.