CAO unveils Hazing Prevention Playbook as research finds 1 in 3 coaches are aware of hazing occurring within their club

  • April 12, 2024

New resource to help coaches RECOGNIZE and PREVENT hazing activities and ACT on strategies to create positive sports team culture this spring sporting season

TORONTO – April 12, 2024 – The Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO) in partnership with Hydro One Inc. (Hydro One), have introduced an all-new essential resource aimed at tackling hazing in sport. Launching today, the Hazing Prevention Playbook for Coaches is a ground-breaking resource to help address a pervasive issue across all age groups and sports in Canada.

“Having dedicated over 25 years to researching hazing across Canadian sport, I’ve seen firsthand the damaging effects it continues to have on athletes and teams of all ages,” said Dr. Jay Johnson, a leading Canadian researcher on hazing from the University of Manitoba. The athletes in his ground-breaking 2018 study indicated that nearly 100 percent of all high school students have both an awareness of and an expectation to be hazed. What are often described as harmless traditions can take on subtle or more overtly violent forms, potentially leaving lasting permanent psychological and physical impacts.

The Hazing Prevention Playbook is a comprehensive guide that squarely addresses the vital role coaches play in recognizing and preventing hazing activities. It equips coaches with actionable strategies to create positive team cultures and dispels the misconception that hazing is an acceptable part of team building.

“Hazing is something a lot of coaches try to avoid dealing with and it’s common to hear that it’s a rite of passage acting as a test of an athlete’s commitment to the team,” said Stephanie Sutton, a youth coach for over 30 years. “These activities are humiliating, degrading and abusive which is truly the opposite of what sport and physical activity provide. By creating new traditions that foster a positive culture, we’ve eliminated hazing from our team. This new resource greatly enhances a coach’s role in uniting and empowering every individual.”

The resource was created in response to the findings of the 2023 Ontario Coaching Report, which recently revealed that 33 per cent of coaches are aware of hazing within their own club or organization, with a staggering 82 per cent of those aware saying it is an acceptable part of team building.

“Team building is important and there are ways to do it that are fun, and not endangering the wellbeing of athletes,” said Jeremy Cross, Executive Director, CAO. “As the architects of a culture that is safe and inclusive, coaches have a crucial role to play in being aware of instances of hazing and then being the catalyst to more positive team building strategies.”

The Hazing Prevention resource marks the beginning of a broader initiative by CAO and Hydro One to tackle these unsafe practices. The next installment of the Ontario Coaching Report, due in late 2024, will delve deeper into team culture, how coaches are creating positive sport experiences and examine activities like hazing and safety. These initiatives underscore a commitment to eradicating hazing from sport by empowering coaches with tools that prioritize the well-being of all participants across Ontario.

“By prioritizing safe spaces that embrace all team members,” said Dr. Johnson. “We not only foster a positive environment but also lay the foundation for success both on and off the field.”

Coaches can access the new resource for free online at Safe Sport 101 is a partnership between Hydro One and CAO dedicated to giving coaches the tools they need to make sport safe, fun, and inclusive for all. It includes a virtual hub that offers coaches additional free safety resources including an eight-part eLearning series and community grants.


About the Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO)
The Coaches Association of Ontario is an independent, non-profit organization that supports coaches from community to high performance across all sports in Ontario. Providing coach development, funding opportunities, and events that support, recognize and represent all coaches across the province.
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For Media Inquires: Contact Eric McLoughlin at or via telephone at 416-416-7005.

Recognizing, Preventing & Acting to stop hazing in sport