“TOGETHER”, The responsibility theme of the American Football Association of Finland
There has been repeated news about discrimination, and other inappropriate behavior related to sports in public discussion. The American football community condemns all kinds of inappropriate behavior and wants to do its part in bringing this important issue to the forefront and in public discussion by launching a themed campaign ”Together” (Kaikki Yhdessä) for its own community.
In November 2022, the Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports (FINCIS) published the results of a study asking athletes about their positive and negative experiences in sports. Now, also the sport-specific results have been completed, and thanks to the high response rate of American football players, the American Football Association of Finland (SAJL) has received a sport-specific report and started taking measures based on its findings. FINCIS´s sport-specific report was produced for all sports with more than 75 respondents. SAJL thanks all the athletes who responded to the survey.
Based on the results of the sport-specific report, SAJL reinforces responsible action and communication. In the spring, SAJL will publish information on its responsible program’s operational models, good practices, and experiences for its member clubs, athletes, and the public. The values of Finnish American football are based on teamwork, love for the sport, and perseverance, guided by the principles of fair play and ethical values in sports. The campaign, derived from the values of American football, is themed ” Together” (Kaikki Yhdessä).
According to the study, athletes enjoy going to practice, but also experience inappropriate behavior
The sport-specific results of FINCIS athlete survey highlighted many of the same issues as the overall results of the study. Over 80 percent of American football players who responded said they enjoyed going to practice.
However, some respondents had also experienced inappropriate behavior, discrimination, or harassment. The most common issue was unfair and mocking criticism of one’s performance, while physical violence was experienced the least. In the responses from American football players, experiences of other inappropriate behavior were emphasized, such as shouting, laughing, and not listening to opinions. Some men also reported experiencing physical violence.
The results of the athlete survey will be used to improve the operations of SAJL. For example, the SAJL’s mandatory training for coaching staff and players of national teams now includes the FAIR WIN online course from FINCIS. Addressing issues is the responsibility of the sports community, and if direct intervention is not possible, inappropriate behavior can be reported in many ways. SAJL has its own whistleblowing channel, FINCIS has its ILMO service, and the Finnish Family Federation’s joint initiative with Finnish sports, You are not alone, are all good options.
American football is a physical and disciplined team sport that promotes healthy competitive attitudes while emphasizing teamwork and fellowship. Trust is placed in the player next to you, no one is discriminated against, and everyone must commit to a common play book and effort to achieve success. In American football, everyone can find their place and develop in their own role, regardless of background, gender, or physical size.
The values and skills acquired in football can help succeed in other areas of life, such as school, work, and relationships. Discipline helps achieve goals and develop in everyday life. Respect for friends and inclusivity are values that are significant in all life situations. No one is bullied, unwanted behavior is immediately addressed, and by working together, we actively prevent anyone from being left out.
The theme of the Finnish American Football Association, ”Together,” emphasizes the importance of collaboration and community among diverse members, trust, inclusivity, and respect both on and off the field.