British Columbia

Trevor Linden, Carl Valentine and others want to erase bullying from B.C. sport

A new campaign aims to combat bullying behaviour at all levels of sport in the province — in both children and adults alike.

New campaign aims to keep sport safe and welcoming for kids and adults at all levels

Trevor Linden and Carl Valentine are just some of the big names lending their support to a new campaign to erase bullying from sport in B.C. (CBC)

Trevor Linden, Carl Valentine and Jennifer Heil are just a few of the big names behind a new campaign to eradicate bullying from sport in B.C.

The campaign — viaSport BC's "#ERASEbullying" program — aims to combat bullying behaviour at all levels of sport in the province.

Sheila Bouman, CEO of viaSport — a non-profit organization funded in part by the province of B.C. — said bullying is often thought of as something that happens just between players, but surveys by her organization found bullying often happens between adults, including coaching staff and parents in the stands.

Bouman said it's one of the main reasons kids drop out of sport, but also why parents may stop volunteering their time.

"If it's not a safe environment for them to do their best and really help, then they are also leaving and choosing to do something else instead," she said.

Big names on board

Bouman wanted big names involved with the campaign to ensure it was taken seriously. A video viaSport posted on YouTube includes endorsements from a number of big-name professional athletes and Olympians.

Bouman wants the campaign to show you can still compete at an elite level while being respectful of others.

"You can be phenomenal and excellent without shaming or intimidating someone that you're competing against," Bouman said.

Part of the campaign is simply raising awareness, but Bouman said a major way of reducing bullying is to have specifc consequences for negative behaviours — suspending players and coaches or ejecting fans from the stands, for example.

Ultimately, viaSport wants to keep people involved in sport throughout their lives for the many benefits it provides.

"We want everyone participating in sport somehow," Bouman said. "And if they don't participate because it's not a safe environment, or they don't stay, then they're not going to develop those health and life benefits that come through sport."

With files from CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.