Not just a sporting chance: ethics and sport in Further Education

Danni Baker is a course tutor on Level 1 Sport at Bradford College, and she teaches across all our sports courses, levels One to Three (so up to the equivalent of A Level). She also runs the Higher Sports Leadership Award, and our women’s football team.

Bradford College Women's Football Team

Bradford College Women’s Football Team: Danni is at the back, in blue.

Danni ran through a number of ethics issues relating to ethics and sport in Further Education – some of them are addressed explicitly with the students, but it was clear as well that much is communicated through students participating in sport and building relationships with the students through sport.

Sport for all
Danni saw this as central to sports teaching at the college: the need to ensure that sport is for everyone.  “We’ve got some very talented students who are rising  high in their sport, but its important as well to focus on enrichment. We get the students to think about how they pick teams – everyone picks the highly skilled first, or their friends. It doesn’t need to be like that. When you pick a team you can offer fair opportunity, you can help weaker players to take part. Sport really is about taking part, not just winning.”

Playing by the rules
The College has a code of conduct, and the sports lecturers go through it with all new students. “The ground rules of respect and tolerance are the same in sport.,” Danni says. “We also talk about the importance of respecting the referee and sport officials.  We show the students good role models and bad ones – there are plenty of bad role models in football!”

Ethical issues
“We often look at current affairs – the Olympics, for instance, gave us lots of positives to discuss, and the Paralympics. Each week, sport is in the news: cheating, adultery, drugs, racism and so on. I use these issues to debate in class. It is interesting to hear students’ opinions.”

Gender equality
I was interested to learn that we get more boys and young men on our sports courses than women. Danni said that many want to be footballers, and she commented on the fact that football is a very male-dominated game. “To counteract that, we offer some sports that appeal to girls, like netball, and we run things like the women’s football team so that girls have an opportunity to break into perceived male dominated sports,” she explained. “We have girls doing boxing and badminton. It’s also about changing the boys’ mindset. The women footballers are not afraid to get involved in the boys’ game, and the boys can see how good they are and they respect that.”

Disability equality
We have a number of disabled students at Bradford College who are doing really well at sport. “Sometimes the disabled students teach us all a disability sport and we all play it, which is a lot of fun,” says Danni.  “Everyone gets to see that these are real sports, skilful and challenging.”

Danni explained that through the Higher Sports Leadership Award, our students are involved in organising activities for a group of disabled adults who come twice a week to participate in sports activities, as part of their Entry Pathways course at Bradford College. “Our students help them, they get experience as coaches, and lots of insight,” she says. “The interaction afterwards is amazing – before, the Entry Pathways adults would sit on their own in the café, and now our students join them voluntarily to chat. I love Wednesdays and Thursdays just for that, to see our students mix with Entry Pathways adults.”

Managing aspirations
“Very few sports students make it to be professionals footballers – it’s a matter of luck and skill and other things,” Danni comments. “So we have to help them have those goals but at the same time manage expectations. We want them to understand that there are other options, that are also very rewarding. “ Danni says that in one module, all the students have to come up with a business plan built around sport. “Its like a dragons’ den, and the tutors sit on the board. The idea is to help them see new possibilities and develop business skills.”

The ethics of inactivity
Danni praises the College for getting involved in the Global Corporate Challenge, which gets teams of staff (all volunteers) walking 10,000 steps a day for four months. Her final point is one that applies to us all:

“One thing I feel strongly about,” says Danni, “is the way in the UK everyone is sat at their desk or in their car, and they don’t have anywhere near enough physical activity. It’s a social wrong, its not just about individuals. We need to change the culture.”

Danni Baker, sports tutor and lecturer at Bradford College.

Danni Baker, sports tutor and lecturer at Bradford College.

A bit about Danni: Danni grew up in York, and always loved sport, particularly football and tennis. She completed the BTEC National Sports Diploma at York College and then went to St John’s University to do a degree in physical education and applied social science. She got a job lecturing back at York College, alongside being a self-employed tennis coach.  She is also a UEFA B football coach. “It got a bit crazy ,” Danni says. “I was working all hours, and I felt I’d been in York a long time and it was time to widen my horizons. So I took six months off to go travelling, and after that I came here.” She has been at Bradford College about six years.

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