Integration, Creation, and Growth: A Path Forward for Sport Social Work Education


  • Samantha Bates The Ohio State University
  • Stacy Kratz University of Southern California



sport social work, social work education, teaching, training, social work curriculum, interprofessional collaboration


Sports fans and the public alike have seen athletes and sport organizations spark conversations focused on equity, mental health, and human rights. Social workers also are professionals that engage in advocacy to destigmatize mental health and to address complex social issues. To align advocacy efforts at the intersection of social work and sport, a small coalition of social workers and interdisciplinary partners convened to create the Alliance for Social Workers in Sports (ASWIS) in 2015. The ASWIS is leading the way in preparing social workers for practice in sport by offering the first Sport Social Work Certificate Program (SSW Certificate). Despite the development of the SSW Certificate, the demand, need, and interest in the sport social work specialization is growing. The purpose of this article is to outline a path forward for sport social work education by discussing strategies to (a) integrate sports into existing coursework; (b) create sport social work courses and field placements; and (c) develop specialization tracks that grow the sport social work workforce and platform for advancing social change through sport. Improving access to education and training can strengthen the specialization of sport social work, and will ultimately benefit athletes, teams, communities, and sport organizations.


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