Technology has been responsible for many advances in modern sport. It has reshaped and redesigned sporting equipment and apparel, helped us analyse and perfect sporting techniques and led to the collection of detailed stats which can be shared with audiences worldwide.
Technology—in particular the internet—has helped us share, learn and communicate about sport more effectively too. Social media, for example, has altered the sporting experience, while real-time live events streaming and statistical analysis have now become the norm.
Sporting clubs and organisations now have a stronger global and community presence thanks to the world online. Many use Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms to link with fans, players, officials, coaches, sponsors and their communities. There are many benefits, including enhancing partnerships with sponsors, attracting new audiences, increasing levels of participation, improving profiles and developing stronger links with members and supporters. But, importantly, there are also risks.
Minimising risk on social media
Social media holds many risks for sporting organisations. These can range from the seemingly innocuous sharing of a photo without full permission, to the most damaging, like cyberbullying, image-based abuse and online racism. For clubs and organisations, it’s important to incorporate into existing policies or to have a specific policy that addresses the use of new technology, devices and related behaviours. A policy also helps to manage risk, provide member protection and set clear procedures for breaches and complaints.
A social media policy may also outline how your club or organisation will use, publish and store photos and video content of their members. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner’s (the Office) frequently asked questions can help clubs and sporting organisations assess and plan for how to best manage this content.
Cyberbullying is a significant online issue for young people, and one which can appear in a sporting environment. Cyberbullying is the use of digital technology to threaten, menace, harass, and humiliate an individual or group. In sport, cyberbullying may look like online racism, targeted threats, intimidation to opposition players, coaches and teams, defaming of referees, coaches, management, or unsubstantiated claims of drug-taking or favouritism.
Cyberbullying is a very real issue, and there is a need to explicitly educate players on the dangers of both online abuse and acting appropriately online. Where issues arise and a young person under 18 years is the target, the Office can help. We work closely with our social media partners to remove serious cyberbullying from the internet.
Image-based abuse, known colloquially as ‘revenge porn’ or the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, is another harmful online activity which can affect sporting clubs and their members. The Office will provide assistance to individuals who have been subjected to image-based abuse, with new powers supporting individuals of any age who are victims and need help to remove these images.
Navigating the world online
It can be challenging to stay up-to-date with the issues, risks and solutions to online safety. At the Office of the eSafety Commissioner we are committed to providing the most current information, and helping empowering Australians to have safer, more positive experiences online. All our resources and services are underpinned by evidence-based research into internet use, online safety, e-security and related issues. To learn more about online issues, strategies and solutions—and how to use technology to your advantage—visit www.esafety.gov.au
Kellie Britnell, Program Manager, Outreach and Education, Office of the eSafety Commissioner