Discrimination in Sport Delivery

You are advised to check the laws in your own state or nation that relate to anti-discrimination.

Definition of Discrimination

Discrimination may be direct or indirect and may be defined as:

Direct Discrimination Indirect Discrimination

The treatment of a person less favourably, on the basis of an attribute of that person, than they would otherwise have been treated if they did not possess that attribute.

Discrimination that happens if a term or condition is imposed, and as a result a person is not able to comply because of a particular attribute they posses, and which presents no problem to people who do not possess the attribute

Examples of Direct Discrimination

The following table provides examples of direct discrimination:

Attributes Explanation Examples

Being discriminated against on the basis of gender. Includes discrimination against a woman because she is pregnant.

A club may refuse to allow a woman to play a sport fearing a complaint of negligence if the mother or baby is injured.


When a persons is treated unfairly or harassed because of their race, colour, ethnic background, ethno-religious background, descent or nationality.

There are many examples in recent times of racial taunts directed at players and referees on the sporting field. There are also situations where a persons culture may impact on their dress and this may cause problems with wearing normal protective clothing or competition apparel.


When a persons is treated unfairly because of their age - for example, because people think you are too old or too young.

This is a provision in Anti-Discrimination law that allows organisations to prevent participation on the grounds of "Reasonable risk of injury" especially in regard to children. But organisations should be very thoughtful before turning away a young or old participant.


When a person is treated unfairly or harassed because they have a disability, or someone thinks they have a disability. Disability includes physical, intellectual and psychiatric disabilities, learning and emotional disorders, and any organism capable of causing disease.

Disability can also be defined as having in the body an organism causing illness or disease. In Victoria, a player with HIV-Aids won the right to rejoin an amateur football club which had excluded him on the grounds of his disease.

A question often asked is whether a sport club can turn down a person's membership on the basis that they have a criminal record.

The answer to the above question may well be NO. There would be many people who are members of sport clubs who have criminal records. However, some types of criminal conviction may place restraints on the convicted person. For example, a person convicted of crimes of a sexual nature may be restrained from working as a coach with children.

Examples of Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination on the basis of an attribute happens if a person imposes, or proposes to impose, a term or condition—

  1. With which a person with an attribute does not or is not able to comply; and
  2. With which a higher proportion of people without the attribute comply or are able to comply; and
  3. That is not reasonable.

Example 1

An employer decides to employ people who are over 190 cm tall, although height is not pertinent to effective performance of the work. This disadvantages women and people of Asian origin, as there are more men of non-Asian origin who can comply.

The discrimination is unlawful because the height requirement is unreasonable, there being no genuine occupational reason to justify it.

Example 2

An employer requires employees to wear a uniform, including a cap, for appearance reasons, not for hygiene or safety reasons. The requirement is not directly discriminatory, but it has a discriminatory effect against people who are required by religious or cultural beliefs to wear particular headdress.


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