The professionalisation of elite performance sport in recent decades has led to a proliferation of incidents in which the questionable practices of leaders have been the subject of intense media attention. One could label this spectrum as the good, the bad and the ugly of leadership in sport (see also Chapter 6). High profile accounts of negative behaviours that have been reported in the media include the use of extreme techniques in team building sessions at Kamp Staaldraad for the South African rugby team in 1995 (Kremer and Moran, 2013). More recently, allegations of abusive and unethical practices by coaches have led to resignations and reprimand. For example, in 2013, Mike Rice was fired from his position as basketball coach at Rutgers for his harsh coaching style which included throwing basketballs at players (Eder, 2013). And in the NFL, the ‘Bountygate’ scandal revealed that the New Orleans Saints players were allegedly receiving bonuses for inflicting injuries on opposing players that forced them to leave games (Ford, 2014). Undoubtedly, elite sport has the capacity to challenge the mental and physical health of performers (Hughes and Leavey, 2012). Typically, coaches have been seen as part of the problem. For example, evidence has linked sport pressures from coaches with disorder eating among female athletes (Anderson et al., 2012). Both sport coaches’ criticisms or comments about weight/body size (Kerr et al., 2006) and the belief held by coaches that a thin/small body improves performance (Bonogofski et al., 1999) can have deleterious effects. The surprise is not that leadership in sport coaching has a potential dark side, one that can impact negatively upon players, athletes, other stakeholders (e.g. volunteer staff) and even coaches themselves, but that there remains a paucity of research on conflict in the coach-athlete relationship (Jowett and Poczwardowski, 2007). As stated in 2006, ‘If we, sport and exercise psychologists, are to make a mark and a noticeable progress we need to consider the impact of relationship contexts on human behaviour’ (Jowett and Wylleman, 2006, p. 121).
P. Cummins, O'Boyle, I, & Murray, D