A college basketball player got the idea after seeing a discrimination case nearly imploding his own team, then wondered why no one had done anything about it before.
Ten years later, this gamer developed the idea into an important tool for repairing a sports landscape full of suitcases sexual abuse, along with examples of racism and Sexism in the workplace, Discrimination, harassment and Doping scammers at practically every level.
The gamer, David Chadwick, turned his idea into a company called RealResponse, which provides customers – mostly university sports departments and other sports organizations – with technology to enable athletes and employees to initiate anonymous real-time complaints by sending a simple text message.
On Monday, RealResponse announced a deal with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which will use the platform as one of its many resources for whistleblowers to raise concerns about possible doping incidents.
As a sign of the breadth of the company, which also illustrates the diverse possibilities and problems of the sport, RealResponse has already signed contracts with USA Gymnastics, the NFL Players Association, the National Women’s Soccer League and more than 100 university sports programs. It also seeks to partner with some of the thousands of youth and club sports organizations in the United States.
“I wanted to develop something that solved a direct challenge – the lack of confidential, real-time anonymous opportunities for athletes and others to share concerns and feedback with administration,” said Chadwick.
The technology should be as simple as possible, especially for a generation of athletes who are used to doing almost everything on their cell phones.
It enables athletes or employees to report on workplace discrimination, doping offenses, sexual abuse and other concerns with a simple text. It skips the admission forms and drop-down menus that populate many reporting apps, and has privacy features that allow administrators to gather more information from whistleblowers while allowing those individuals to maintain their anonymity.
The NFLPA originally bought the service to give players the ability to report inconsistencies in COVID-19 test logs. Since then, it has expanded its use of the service to “anonymously and securely report any issues … violations, misconduct, harassment, harassment, and more,” according to a press release.
The seed of thought for Chadwick came while playing at Rice, where two players left after accusing administrators of discrimination.
“I was in the crosshairs of not knowing what was going on, wondering why they weren’t being revealed and addressed earlier if they were going on?” Said Chadwick.
He moved to Valparaiso and started research. He contacted more than 200 administrators in the universities’ sports departments and asked them what systems they had put in place to receive complaints or concerns from athletes.
“I’ve heard a lot of informal forms of contact, things like ‘I have an open house policy’ and ‘I’m getting to know my children,'” said Chadwick. “But there was no constancy. Some did not do it anonymously, some did it anonymously, some did it with pen and paper, some did it electronically. Overall, there was a terrible turnout. “
Chadwick’s first iteration of his system enabled sports departments to conduct surveys of players at the end of the season. The feedback the ADs received was staggering: stories of NCAA violations, drug use, harassment, sexual assault.
“The players were very attuned to this and were ready to bring very confidential and serious things into the system,” said Chadwick. “I thought we can’t wait for the year-end polls to get some of that information.”
RealResponse has expanded its technology to offer athletes the ability to be contacted through simple text.
The company also gives companies the ability to document how they respond to complaints. Some of the biggest scandals in the Olympic sexual abuse cases involved trying to find out what authorities did when they received information; these programs keep track of things.
USADA’s entry into the platform marks another milestone for the company. A long-standing problem in the anti-doping world is the ability to protect whistleblowers after sharing their information.
“Connecting with RealResponse will help remove potential barriers for whistleblowers to communicate with our investigation team,” said Travis Tygart, USADA CEO.
Chadwick said the ultimate goal is to make this easier in all aspects of the sport. Another hurdle to overcome is getting companies to collect and use more efficiently information that has often been treated incorrectly or not treated at all for decades.
“There has been a reluctance to implement a system like ours over the past few years because of the question, ‘do we want to know?'” Said Chadwick. “And that is a focus for us. If you want to know, you should use systems and people to not only uncover the problems, but to address them. “
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