Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Health Science (PhD)

Degree Level



Health, Human Performance and Recreation


Merry Moiseichik

Committee Member

Stephen Dittmore

Second Committee Member

Jean Henry

Third Committee Member

Valerie Hunt


factors driving abuse;organizational behavior;organizational culture;power-inbalance;professional uncertainty;tolerance


The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of sport professionals who worked in organizations that tolerated non-physical abuse. This qualitative study used active interviewing and grounded-theory design to guide the data collection and coding efforts. The data identified emerging themes to generate essential theory. The research collected data through interviews with 10 sport professionals. This phenomenological study looked at sport professionals’ experiences who worked at private sport organizations and those that worked within a university athletic department. Interview responses illustrated that all participants experienced comparable treatment and felt similarly to the non-physical abuse taking place. An interesting discovery was that all participants were in some degree victims of this non-physical abuse themselves. The themes, theory, and categories provided a vivid glimpse of non-physical abuse in sports. The biggest takeaway is that abuse happens throughout the organization, not only with the athletes. In offering a delineation of the different factors that prevent individuals who work within a sport organization from speaking up about non-physical abuse this study provides new information for policy changes, coaching behaviors and administrative decision making. This research is paramount in identifying why organizational tolerance exists and why it continues. The study recommends further research of non-physical abuse at levels of the organizational chain, continued research on the impact non-physical abuse has, and recommends what can be done for prevention.