After witnessing a discrimination case nearly bring his team to its knees, a college basketball player came up with the concept, asking why no one had taken action sooner.
After ten years, that player has turned the concept into a critical tool for addressing a sports environment rife with incidents of sexual assault, as well as workplace racism and sexism, discrimination, harassment, and doping cheats at nearly every level.
David Chadwick, the player, has turned his concept into a company called RealResponse, which provides technology to customers — mostly university athletic departments and other sports groups — that allows players and workers to make real-time, anonymous complaints by sending a simple text.
On Monday, RealResponse announced a partnership with the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which would use the platform as one of several tools for whistleblowers to disclose potential doping instances.
RealResponse already has partnerships in place with USA Gymnastics, the NFL Players Association, the National Women’s Soccer League, and more than 100 university sports programs, demonstrating the company’s breadth and illustrating the vast spectrum of opportunities and issues that exist via sports. It’s also hoping to collaborate with some of the country’s tens of thousands of youth and club sports groups.
“I wanted to create something that would address a specific problem — the lack of confidential, anonymous, real-time means for players and others to express issues and feedback with management,” Chadwick explained.
The technology is intended to be as easy as possible for a generation of athletes who have grown up doing nearly everything on their phones.
With a simple SMS, athletes or workers may begin a report regarding employment discrimination, doping violations, sex abuse, and other issues. It foregoes the intake forms and drop-down options seen in many reporting applications, and it has privacy features that allow administrators to collect additional information from whistleblowers while maintaining their identity.
Initially, the NFLPA purchased the program to let players to report discrepancies in COVID-19 testing methods. It has since expanded its use of the service to “anonymously and securely report any and all issues” including “training camp issues, drug policy infractions, social injustice concerns, medical issues, COVID-19 policy violations, misconduct, hazing, harassment, and more,” according to a news release.
Chadwick got the idea while playing at Rice, when a couple of players departed after accusing officials of prejudice.
“I found myself in the crosshairs of not understanding what was going on and asking why, if there were issues, they weren’t brought to light and handled sooner?” Chadwick explained.
He moved to Valparaiso and began his studies there. He contacted over 200 university sports department officials, inquiring about their processes for receiving complaints or concerns from players.
“I heard a lot of casual kinds of interaction, like ‘I have an open door policy,’ and ‘I get to know my kids,'” Chadwick added. “However, there was a lack of consistency.” Others did it in public, some did it in private, some did it on paper, and some did it electronically. Overall, participation was dreadful.”
The original version of Chadwick’s method allowed athletic departments to perform end-of-season player questionnaires. The responses the ADs received were startling: NCAA infractions, drug usage, hazing, and sexual assault have all been reported.
“The gamers were really enthusiastic about it and were prepared to put highly private and sensitive information into the system,” Chadwick added. “We can’t wait until end-of-year polls to acquire some of this information,” I reasoned.
RealResponse’s technology has been enhanced to allow athletes to start contact with a simple text message.
The firm also provides a means for businesses to keep track of how they handle complaints. Trying to find out what authorities did when they received information has been one of the major controversies in the Olympic sex-abuse cases; these programs keep track.
The addition of USADA to the platform is a significant step forward for the organization. The capacity to safeguard whistleblowers after they reveal their knowledge has long been an issue in the anti-doping field.
“The partnership with RealResponse removes possible communication hurdles for whistleblowers with our investigative team,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart stated.
The ultimate aim, according to Chadwick, is to make it simpler in all facets of athletics. Another obstacle to overcome is persuading organizations to support the collection and more efficient use of data that has been mismanaged or ignored for decades.
“In the past, there has been a hesitancy to establish a system like ours due to the question of ‘Do we want to know?'” Chadwick explained. “And that’s something we want to emphasize.” If you want to know, put processes and people in place to not just discover but also solve the problems.”