This Spring, David Garzon, White Ribbon’s Community Engagement Manager, sat down with Chuck Winters, former Toronto Argonaut player, coach, and anti-violence activist to discuss athletes and coaches’ roles to prevent gender-based violence and promote gender equity.
Winters now dedicates himself to harnessing that power to raise his players’ awareness of violence prevention. He invites his players to stop and think about the ideas that they implicitly learned by hearing sexist or homophobic derogatory comments as part of “normal conversations”. He asks them to pay attention to how their words and actions can be discriminatory. He asks them to reflect and be more conscious of their words and actions so that they can change their behaviours. He seeks to foster empathy for survivors of gender-based violence by sharing his own childhood experiences of domestic violence, inviting speakers to talk about their experiences, and by creating partnerships with feminist organizations in his community.
Winters is a strong believer in coaches’ ability to create change and he outlined four simple steps for those who may wish to follow his example.
Winters also had words of advice for colleges and universities to help them tackle gender-based violence. He argues that these institutions should put in place programs to support students and athletes who have had personal experiences of violence so that they can help break the cycle of violence that often reproduces itself from generation to generation. He also argues that they should make gender-based violence prevention their issue and create programs to help athletes understand that sexism and violence are learned behaviours and help them change.