Sport Culture as an Opportunity to Prevent Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence is pervasive in the United States. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men in the United States have been raped (Black et al. 2011). Research shows that sports culture can promote or perpetuate beliefs related to male entitlement, value in dominance, and lack of empathy, factors which support rape culture (McKray, 2015). The role of sport culture and systems as a cultural influencer contributes to standards and expectations around acceptable behaviors, attitudes and beliefs. Sport systems are uniquely positioned to reach youth and transmit values and behaviors to prevent sexual violence in America.

In 2014, the National Football League (NFL) announced a five-year commitment to support survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence and pledged funding for advocacy organizations across the country, through partnership with key violence prevention organizations operating on a national scale, including CALCASA, the California state coalition against sexual violence. As part of this work, CALCASA has undertaken a leadership role in understanding and developing programs and policies that can more effectively utilize sports culture to prevent sexual assault. GEH has been engaged in an effort to evaluate the initiative in order to determine if broader shifts in sexual violence prevention could be achieved.


1. Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2. McCray, K.L. (2015). Athletes and sexual violence: review of literature and recommendations for future study. Trauma Violence Abuse. 16(4):438-43. doi: 10.1177/1524838014537907

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