A picture of Dr Melanie Lang
Dr Melanie Lang

An Edge Hill academic has produced a new book that sheds light on athlete welfare and abuse in sport, giving much needed expert advice on how to tackle the problem. 

Often prompted by high-profile disclosures of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, sports organisations have increased their efforts to assure athlete health, safety, and well-being. This in turn has raised questions around the causes of athlete maltreatment, its effects and ways to prevent it.  

Dr Melanie Lang’s new book The Routledge Handbook of Athlete Welfare is the first book of its kind and the only one to provide such a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the welfare and abuse of athletes of all ages and at all levels.  

In the book, contributors lift the lid on these and other issues that jeopardise the physical, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual welfare of athletes of all ages to raise awareness of the broad range of challenges athletes face.  

Dr Melanie Lang said: “We’ve known for some time that athletes experience abuse, bullying, discrimination, disordered eating, addiction, and mental health issues during their careers, often at the hands of their own coaches. 

“My new book is a holistic response to this crisis, looking at the causes and effects of various types of mental and physical abuse as well as other factors that affect an athlete’s life. Hopefully by talking openly about these issues and offering the kind of expert guidance this book delivers, we can address welfare issues directly and prevent them from happening again.” 

The Handbook of Athlete Welfare is an edited collection containing 35 chapters written by authors from 14 different countries including sociologists, psychologists, criminologists, and medical doctors. Chapters highlight approaches to athlete welfare and initiatives taken by national and international sport organisations to provide a safer, more ethical sports environment. It is hoped that the book will raise awareness among sport policymakers, practitioners and athletes of the wide range of welfare issues that can occur in sport and their serious consequences.  

The book will be launched on 6th November 2020 at an online event organised by Edge Hill’s Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport (CPSS), in collaboration with the Institute for Social Responsibility. Follow this link to sign up for the event – https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/isr/the-routledge-handbook-of-athlete-welfare/.  

Dr Lang is the Assistant Director of the CPSS which works closely with various national sports and coaching organisations to provide research, advice and consultancy on their safeguarding and child protection strategies. 

In addition to her work for the University, Dr Lang was the national expert for the UK on the European Commission-funded project Gender-Based Violence in Sport, is currently an expert member of the pool of European Experts on Sexual Violence in Sport, the NSPCC Sport England Child Protection in Sport Unit Research Evidence and Advisory Group, and the UK Coaching Safeguarding Talented and Elite Children Expert Group. 

If you are interested in studying social science or learning more about child protection, please take a look at the Edge Hill website to see the full range of social science courses available – https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/socialsciences/courses/