Canadian high school sports teams are awash with white privilege and racism. At least, that’s the conclusion made by a team of academics in a paper published to the Sports Coaching Review. 

Researchers from the University of Ottawa, University of Manitoba, Université du Québec, Brock University and University of New Hampshire published their findings based on a survey of 463 high school coaches who self-identified as white. 

Their findings were published in a paper titled “White privilege in Canadian high school sport: investigating white coaches’ perspectives on social justice issues.” 

“Sport constitutes an important setting in which to study whiteness given ongoing issues related to power, privilege, and oppression,” write the authors. 

“Results showed how coaches who had a greater awareness of white privilege in society had more favourable attitudes towards social justice, higher importance attributed to climate change issues, greater awareness of prejudicial attitudes against the LGBT community, and a higher propensity to engage in antiracist behaviours.”

Based on the ideological work of “critical whiteness studies” academics like Robin DiAngelo, who believes that caucasian people suffer from “white neurosis” and advances the idea that “raising white children to be white is a form of child abuse” in her books, the authors claim that refusing to see race in coaching maintains socially unjust worldviews. 

“White coaches have also been shown to disregard racial/cultural issues and adopt functionalist and normative approaches to coaching that help maintain the socially unjust status quo,” the paper argues. 

“While white coaches experience many privileges, crucially, non-white coaches experience many forms of oppression,” it continues. 

“Given the important role coaches play in athlete development, it is crucial to explore the implications of white privilege, whiteness and social justice in sport coaching.” 

According to the authors, Canadian high school sports teams exhibit white supremacy because the term “does not exclusively refer to an extreme position of discrimination and dominance; it also refers to the foundations that allow for racial privilege and racism to permeate all aspects of society.” 

The study then concludes that the right approach is to educate coaches to learn the “unearned advantages of white privilege.” 

“In sport, getting white coaches with a known disregard for racial issues to become more aware of white privilege may serve as an important stepping stone in developing greater awareness of other key social issues related to gender, sexuality and the environment.” 

“Results suggest that initiatives to get coaches to be more aware of white privilege are needed if the entanglement of race, gender, sexuality, disability, and environmental issues are to be legitimately addressed in sport.”