Duty of Care in Sport has not previously been defined outside of legal terminology and implications. However societal expectations on what duty of care means have grown beyond this and sports are being asked the question “How are you demonstrating your commitment to the care of all involved?”

Until now there has not existed a comprehensive framework to define the broader meaning of duty of care in sport or a means to measure it. In 2017, a United Kingdom Government review of duty of care in sport recommended that an independent survey was needed to give equal voice to all stakeholders in the system.

We created The Sport Census in response to this recommendation and to answer the questions: what does good duty of care mean in a sporting context and how can it be measured? The goal of The Sport Census is to provide sports with a quick and easy tool that can illuminate best practice and empower informed decision-making and proactivity through accurate data reported by relevant stakeholders.

Description of the Problem

Sports have a unique, high profile position in society, and are significant because of the potential wide-ranging benefits, including physical well-being, mental well-being, individual development, social and community development, and economic development. However, there is a risk that these benefits will not be fully realized due to the challenges faced by sports institutions, organizations, leagues, and teams to comprehensively demonstrate attention to welfare and wellbeing issues.

In 2017, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson conducted an independent review of duty of care in sport on behalf of the United Kingdom Government1. The review established a Framework that for the first time defined seven critical factors that comprise duty of care in sport. These factors are: Safeguarding; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion; Safety, Injury and Medical; Transition; Mental Health; Representation of the Participant’s Voice; and Education.

The review also highlighted the shortage of data on duty of care in sport, with evidence often being anecdotal and, in some cases, inflammatory. It emphasized the need for data to be collected from a wide range of people involved in sport, in addition to athletes. Baroness Grey-Thompson’s report concluded with a number of priority recommendations, the second of which was: Duty of care should be measured via an independent survey giving equal voice to all stakeholders in the system.


Based on this priority recommendation we developed a survey called The Sport Census. The survey is used by sports teams, leagues, institutions, organizations, and systems to gather independent data from all participants including coaches, officials, performance athletes, performance directors, administrators, practitioners, referees, volunteers, recreation participants and others involved in sport in some other capacity. It invites these stakeholders to anonymously complete a series of uniform questions based on the seven critical factors identified in the Framework. Responses measure duty of care based on ‘perceived’ and ‘received’ support on a scale of 1-10.

A ‘Key Performance Indicator’ (KPI) out of 100 for each of the seven factors is arrived at by calculating average scores for each factor once all individuals complete the survey. An overall KPI is also calculated out of 100 by averaging the seven factors.

The survey takes 2 minutes to complete, and can be accessed via any device; smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.

Sports are provided a data visualisation of results (see Figure 1 for a hypothetical example) including total scores for the seven factors plus an overall KPI for the entire sport. Results can be filtered by multiple variables including age, gender, disability, sport and competition type, which can inform a high level of specificity in strategic planning for programs and support services.

Sports invite stakeholders to complete the survey at regular intervals, typically on an annual basis, allowing them to demonstrate the impact and return on investment of the programs and services they deliver in response to data collected in the previous survey.

The value of The Sport Census is dependent in the first instance on its ease of use, the reliability of the data it collects, and the overall information it provides for analysis in an accessible format. Feedback helps sports not only track trends and identify their next steps, but also learn how to respond and innovate with pace. The ultimate measure of its value is that sports decision makers apply the learning from the feedback to inform and improve policies and procedures and other areas of decision-making associated with sports administration, communications, and implementation.

Recent feedback from a sporting organization that implemented the survey reports: “[we] surveyed [the] entire cohort of sports clubs and their coaches quite simply because we could do so very easily. We were then quickly able to identify areas of particular focus where we wanted to improve or target some ‘easy wins’ to gather momentum around our work. We will be able to repeat the process on an annual basis [to] give us reliable data to measure the impact of our work and help us identify where next to focus our attention.”


There is an increasing awareness that all parties engaged in the business of sports owe an essential duty of care to everyone involved. The challenge has been to define duty of care in sport and to measure it. We designed The Sport Census to do just this and to give equal voice to all stakeholders so that sports can be appreciated, recognized, and celebrated for their valuable role in society.

The Sport Census is a rapid, accessible survey tool that can make a powerful difference to sports teams, organizations, and leagues as well as illuminate and elevate best practice in duty of care. After stakeholders invest 2 minutes of their time, sports gain access to meaningful and accurate data that can add light not heat to an aspect of healthy life, economic activity, and social cohesion. It does this by encouraging ongoing improvements in sports implementation, by contributing to the development of strategically-targeted programs, services and interventions, and through the sharing of good practice.

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