Culture change starts at the top

Abuse-free sport is a moral imperative. It also happens to be good business.

headshot of CEO

By Ju’Riese Colón
CEO, U.S. Center for SafeSport

Also can be read on Sports Business Journal.

Leadership can be a long, challenging journey.

C-suite execs are always on the lookout for potential threats that could do harm to brand and bottom line while simultaneously balancing the needs of an organization’s most valuable assets—its employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

Leading a team or an organization requires one to focus but also multitask, be understanding of employee needs but also drive results, and be comfortable making unpopular decisions.

And sitting at the top of a sports business adds an additional layer for most executives—because it’s not just about winning or bringing in revenue, it’s about helping athletes thrive, and that means keeping their safety and well-being top of mind.

We know that when athletes (and employees) feel safe, supported, and strengthened, they will also be more productive and are less likely to seek other opportunities.

Prioritizing well-being—no matter age or competitive level—is not only good business, it’s the right thing to do. It’s also how strong culture is built.

Acknowledge the Problem of Abuse and Misconduct in Sport

Decision-makers are uniquely positioned to drive change in their organizations, and by extension, the culture of sport. By setting a proactive, can-do tone and bringing available resources to bear, business and sport leaders can dig out noxious behavior before it takes root.

This must go beyond flowery statements and empty promises—it must come with a level of commitment and accountability.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport has been driving culture change and accountability in sport since our creation in 2017. An independent nonprofit, the Center provides tools, policies, trainings, and other resources to help leaders create supportive, positive, abuse-free sport settings.

SafeSport® Resources

The Center offers more than a dozen in-depth online courses to make sure stakeholders have the knowledge and skills to help keep your operation free of abuse and misconduct.

These trainings were developed for U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sports bodies, and now more than 1,300 organizations throughout the country are opting in—such as Major League Baseball youth leagues and the Junior NBA, to name a few. With over 4 million courses delivered, they come with the quality and credibility leaders can trust.

Our easy-to-follow SafeSport Trained Core course, for example, lays out principles and strategies to help create safer and more positive sport environments. It includes realistic scenarios to test a learner’s knowledge and applies course content to real-life situations.

The Center also offers free tools and resources, including sample policy documents and our online Emotional & Physical Abuse & Misconduct Toolkit, which provides practical information on how to recognize different forms of abuse and misconduct, and what to do if it occurs.

Do Your Part

Businesses and nonprofits that do their due diligence when it comes to building a safe, positive sport culture are doing right by their stakeholders—and doing the right thing.

Culture change is a team sport. Every player has a role, and so do you.

Learn more at