U of T student Anika Taylor combined her passions for journalism and sport into award-winning research. She’s leading us forward to a safer world for the modern athlete.
“A lot of positives inspired me to get involved in sport,” says Anika Taylor. “It is an opportunity to stay healthy, build great relationships and develop leadership skills.
“But what keeps me in sport are the things we need to fix.”
Taylor (BKin 2020) is a master’s student in U of T’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education. She plays soccer and coaches a girls under-11 team. And she’s also an advocate for safeguarding—prioritizing athlete well-being, valuing human rights in sport, and protecting athletes from harm.
A few years ago, Taylor saw a tweet from a journalist slamming professional basketball players who expressed opinions on politics and racism. “I couldn’t believe that someone would lack perspective on the fact that athletes are also human,” she says. “Like anyone else, athletes should be able to speak about their experiences and deserve to have their unique perspectives heard.”
So when Taylor was developing her thesis topic, she decided to research how journalists can use their voices in a better way—to shift attitudes and prevent athlete abuse, harassment and discrimination.
“I wanted to integrate my passions—journalism and safe sport,” she says. “My supervisor said ‘I love this idea.’ It was meant to be.”
Taylor has received several scholarships, including the Dean’s Student Leadership Award and the Marie Parkes Graduate Fellowship for Research in Women’s Health and Physical Activity.
“Graduate students work full-time to contribute to their field, but do not earn a living wage,” Taylor says, “so all the support is appreciated. It’s a tangible recognition for our hard work.”
Her research is the next step in pushing for change. “You can use sport as a tool,” she says, “to get people to see situations in a different light.”
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