Today, we are going to move slightly away from the topic of bullying in sport to talk about excellence. When I was studying to obtain my Bachelor of Physical Education at Université Laval, an extraordinary lecturer, Benoît Tremblay, asked: “What excellence are we talking about in the Rouge et Or’s famous Conquête de l’excellence(Quest for Excellence)?” At first glance, this question appears obvious: It’s excellence in sports. However, he pointed out to us that sport is an engine of development which goes far beyond achieving excellence in sports alone. Moreover, the new terminology for coach-educators adopted by several sports is in keeping with this idea. We would also emphasize the spilling over of the coach’s skills to the sphere of the person’s integral development, where the educator is perceived as being a vector for development, sportive of course, but emotional, social and moral as well. This is what we can summarize by the quest for human excellence.

This trend is based on the numerous benefits of acquiring social and emotional learning skills. But what are these skills:

“Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” ( Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2019)

Broadly, it’s learning life skills and it appears that these skills provide an incontestable advantage in life.



Positive social behaviour

Behaviour problems

Positive attitudes towards self

Emotional distress, depression or anxiety

Positive attitudes towards others

Bullying and cyberbullying

Academic performance (11 percentiles higher)

Verbal homophobic violence



Safe sex practices

Sexual violence

Success on the job market

Alcohol, drug or tobacco use

Satisfaction in life

Eating disorders and obesity

(Durlak & al., 2011; Espelage & al, 2015a, Espelage & al., 2015b; OCDE, 2015; Robbles, 2012; Taylor & al., 2017)

Excellence in sports yes, but what about human excellence?

Therefore they benefit psychological, social, physical and sexual health, in addition to academic and professional success. And if that still isn’t enough for you, research has even shown that each dollar invested in an SELprogram results in an economic benefit evaluated at 11 dollars (Belfield & al., 2015). The reason for this is that the SEL plays an important role in all of our era’s hot topics.

You will therefore understand why it was inevitable to have a tool covering these skills in our Take action! Counter bullying in sports program. Our Teaming up to develop cohesion tool aims to get our athletes to adopt an All for one and one for all mentality, enabling them to learn some of these crucial skills to success (setting goals, cooperation, communication, responsibility, etc.), but also preventing bullying (Parent & al., 2019). Ultimately, a team that stands together cannot allow bullying on their own team. That would be absurd. What’s more, cohesion being linked in this way to sports performance (Caron & al., 2002), there is barely any room left for egocentric attitudes like bullying.

Moreover, the SEL approach also answers one of the most important questions in intervening in violence in sport: the question of grey areas. For major abuse, coming to an agreement on what constitutes violence or not is obvious. But when it comes to lower intensity abuse like verbal or psychological violence, it is difficult, even for professionals, to draw a clear line. Violence is a question of abuse of strength which is a question of values and not facts like sociologists would say. But an approach that targets excellence avoids this hazardous question. The question we should be asking is: Can this person behave better? Is there room for improvement? In the affirmative, it is our responsibility as educators to guide this person for their well-being and the well-being of all.

It may seem arrogant, pedantic even, to judge the necessity of improving others on a personal level. However, it is crucial that this judgement first be made on oneself. As a coach, I always ask myself: Could I have done better? And by being perfectly honest with myself, the answer is often affirmative. I therefore believe that for my personal well-being and for that of my athletes, it is intolerable for me to be content with my current self when there is room for improvement.

That is MY quest for excellence!

Alexandre Baril

Project manager – Take action! Stand up against bullying in sports 




Belfield, C., Bowden, A. B., Klapp, A., Levin, H., Shand, R., & Zander, S. (2015). The economic value of social and emotional learning. Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis6(3), 508-544.

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (2019). What is SEL?. Detected at

Carron, A. V., Colman, M. M., Wheeler, J., & Stevens, D. (2002). Cohesion and performance in sport: A meta analysis. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology24(2), 168-188

Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta‐analysis of school‐based universal interventions. Child development82(1), 405-432.

Espelage, D. L., Low, S., Polanin, J. R., & Brown, E. C. (2015a). Clinical trial of Second Step© middle-school program: Impact on aggression & victimization. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology37, 52-63.

Espelage, D. L., Low, S., Van Ryzin, M. J., & Polanin, J. R. (2015b). Clinical trial of second step middle school program: Impact on bullying, cyberbullying, homophobic teasing, and sexual harassment perpetration. School Psychology Review44(4), 464-479.

OCDE, O. (2015). OECD Skills Studies: Skills for Social Progress: The Power of Social and Emotional Skills. OECD Publishing.

Parent, S. et D’Amours, C. (2019). Intimidation en contexte sportif. Detected at .

Robles, M. M. (2012). Executive perceptions of the top 10 soft skills needed in today’s workplace. Business Communication Quarterly75(4), 453-465.

Taylor, R. D., Oberle, E., Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Promoting positive youth development through school‐based social and emotional learning interventions: A meta‐analysis of follow‐up effects. Child development88(4), 1156-1171.

“Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”