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to complain about discrimination in sport

(29 Posts)
ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 13:25:21

Name changed to avoid being identified.....
DS who has just started secondary school obtained a very high level in a particular sport (national level competition).

He was, at a young age, spotted by people within the sports governing body and was invited to attend training days in the sport. His talent is undoubted but there was a degree of scepticism over whether he had the mental toughness to compete at the top level because he sometimes got upset (as do a lot of other children!)

Last year a number of things happened and our son was diagnosed with high functioning autism which in part explains the reasons he got upset when he did in the sport. He suffered from anxiety which was completely unrelated to the sport and was unable to attend one of the training days at last minute because he wasn't well enough. I was honest with the organiser who holds a high position within the sport and emailed him an apology (I didn't phone because I knew he would be unavailable to talk to), I explained the diagnosis and the anxiety and said that it didn't reflect my son's love of the sport. The organiser did not acknowledge my email and my son has not been invited to any further training at this level.

AIBU to feel that this is discriminatory? Even if there was a strike out policy at missing one session (which there isn't) shouldn't they make an allowance for one missed session for this reason? Is it unreasonable for me to assume that DS has been dropped because of his disability? I want to complain but want to know what others think?

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 14:05:07

Does anyone have a view on this?

whatathingtosay Mon 16-Oct-17 14:12:41

Hmmmm. It may be discrimination, I can see why it would appear that way from your viewpoint. However, I can also see a view from the other side that it may not be the most helpful or happy thing to promote a child who is distressed by competing - for whatever reason. No-one wants to see children stressed and in tears.

I would ask whether there is anything you can do to help your DS's chances, e.g. can he undertake some therapy for the anxiety/upset reactions, so he improves his mental toughness, or any other form of training to help him out?

There must be more than one way into sport at a national level, surely? Can he shine at a more local/regional level and get picked up that way?

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 14:24:52

thanks whatathingtosay the funny thing is that he is completely level headed at this sport now. He competed yesterday and won the competition against a tough opponent. He's got his head round it now.

I see what you say about now not being the 'right time'. That would be fair enough if it was communicated, but it hasn't been.

No acknowledgement of my email is just frankly rude if nothing else.

He can happily still compete and does and has been spotted for another sport and has county trials at the weekend in another sport altogether but I'm just a bit narked that a sports governing body could treat a child like this (dropping them) straight after a diagnosis, without the courtesy of even having a conversation about it.

whatathingtosay Mon 16-Oct-17 14:31:28

Perhaps chase it up ifyoucant - it is rude not to reply and it would be worth making sure it hasn't dropped to the bottom of someone's inbox and been forgotten.

Your DS must be pretty gifted to be spotted for two different sports! I'd like to think talent like that would find a good and supportive home!

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 14:36:13

He is gifted he is very lucky in that but because of his disability he doesn't put himself out there as much as others his age which sets him back. He has at times looked mentally weak compared to his peers but actually to have done as well as he has proves the opposite.

It bothers me that because of his disability he is not getting the same opportunities as others without the disability.

I am worried about raising it as the first sport is very nepotistic and if I upset the apple cart I might do him more harm that good.

DunkMeInTomatoSoup Mon 16-Oct-17 14:36:55

Are you sure the coach isnt ill himself or on extended leave? Or that you used the correct email and didnt make a typo? (mind you, that would have bounced back)

* Is it unreasonable for me to assume that DS has been dropped because of his disability? I want to complain but want to know what others think?*

That is an incredible assumption to make. There may be better participants coming through

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 14:37:08

than good not that good

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 14:38:44

Dunkmein definitely the right email.

I see what you mean about assumption and it is a bit.

Thing is he still is getting the results to prove he should be in that group so in objective terms I can't see another reason.

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 14:41:43

Also I have heard from a coach that it is perceived mental weakness that has put this individual off DS, that is totally connected with the ASD because he doesn't put himself out there as much as others his age.

He comes across as aloof because of his difficulties with social communication.

nokidshere Mon 16-Oct-17 14:56:33

Just pick up the phone and speak to someone properly. Until you do your speculations mean nothing. I don't really understand why you didn't just phone in the first place - even if it was to ask him to call you back.

Joey7t8 Mon 16-Oct-17 14:59:50

I don't think you can call this discrimination; they've probably just decided that he's not quite up to standard (for now). Elite sport is ruthless, even at junior level.

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 15:02:25

I've dropped an email and asked for them to call me.

I know sport is ruthless however some nuturing of young atheletes would not go amiss in my opinion.

Makes you wonder why we are not, as a nation, more successful!

whatathingtosay Mon 16-Oct-17 15:03:01

It's difficult when a few people have a lot of power at the top of a sport! It is a situation that can lead to such an abuse of power - making it very hard to know how to handle it in such a way that your DS doesn't lose out. I think I would be tempted to challenge gently, in a way that acknowledges that there are other talented children out there, explains past incidents in terms of the autism diagnosis, and asks for another chance should a place be available. Are there charities for autistic athletes that could help?

Just to back up what I have said about coaches having too much power: I really suffered because a running coach absolutely hated me. He was inappropriate around girls in a way that made my hair stand on end even though I was only 11, and I stood up to him and refused to run in gym knickers, instead insisting on ugly old sweatpants that were the same as the boys wore. He never ever selected me for the team, even though I came first or second in the training runs every single week. He later went to prison for sexually abusing 3 of his athletes. I've often wondered if I would have been a better runner with more support!

(I don't see why the bastard shouldn't be named).

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 15:03:11

nokidshere I had very good reason not to phone my child was seriously ill, that was my priority at the time.

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 15:06:47

good grief whatathingtosay flowers

Joey7t8 Mon 16-Oct-17 15:08:42

Makes you wonder why we are not, as a nation, more successful!

We are very successful at sport for a nation our size. We won more golds than China at Rio!

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 15:09:18

joey if they have decided he is not up to standard for now, it will be for reasons related to his disability, basically that he comes across as aloof and does not have the same (outward) mental strength as some of the others.

That is unfair when they know the diagnosis. Shouldn't they be looking to support that, not to drop for it.

How is he supposed to feel about that when objectively he is doing as well as the others.

KosmoKramer Mon 16-Oct-17 15:10:05

Can you contact the Child Welfare officer within your sports club? I'm a CWO for my son's club and this would come under my log, support and help challenge?

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 15:10:21

Not in this sport. Our record is not good.

arethereanyleftatall Mon 16-Oct-17 15:14:12

'Makes you wonder why we're not more successful as a nation'

Um, what? Are you not in the uk?

The uk does amazing at sports, one of the best countries in the world.

Joey7t8 Mon 16-Oct-17 15:16:01

His potential opponents aren't going to give allowances for his disability though, are they? Now, or in the future.

What's the sport? Is at something that involves competing head on against an opponent in 1 on 1 situation?

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 15:26:48

joey I wasn't asking for an opponent to give allowances. They don't and nor should they.

I am saying that he has been dropped for perceived mental weakness. This is due to his autism. This is unfair in my opinion.

ifyoucantstandtheheat Mon 16-Oct-17 15:28:00

arethereanyleftatall I am in the UK. In this sport we do not produce many top level professionals.

Witchend Mon 16-Oct-17 15:33:22

Having been involved in some sport, I'd say the mental aspect is at least as important as innate talent.
I remember one girl. At 10yo she won a major title and people expected her to be not just best in Britain, but a hopeful for world champion.
At 14yo I, who was around county standard, beat her.
It wasn't actually her game that let her down, it was her head in the end. She couldn't cope with anyone who made a fight. So if she won easily then she was unbeatable if that makes sense. If she played someone that even put up a good fight on a few points she started going downhill.

I suspect that basically they felt that your ds was not going to mentally be tough enough, and so gave the spot to someone who shows signs of being both physically good and mentally tough. Yes, that's hard, but there'll be limited spaces and they're not going to hang around to put time and money into someone they don't think has a chance.

I have 2 girls, one would be an excellent sports person mentally. She always gives her all, practices to the best of her ability, and would fight throughout. She's not very sporty.
My second girl is much more naturally sporty. She's been picked a few times for talent training. She doesn't have it mentally at present, as she wouldn't cope with the stress and rigours of training to get there.

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