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Seven red flags for internships and work experience in top professional sport
  1. Nash Anderson1,
  2. Bradley Close2,
  3. Kirsty Easdale3
  1. 1 Tuggeranong Chiropractic Centre, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  2. 2 Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  3. 3 MinterEllison, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Nash Anderson, Tuggeranong Chiropractic Centre, Canberra, ACT 2904, Australia; nash.anderson{at}

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When does a rewarding and mutually beneficial internship or work experience morph into an unethical employment practice? Internships can expose a junior practitioner to high-profile settings and aid in building clinical skills, deepen knowledge and broaden their network. These true gains will bolster the intern’s resume, particularly if the mentor is a senior clinician.1 2 The price for what is essentially advanced, specific training is that the intern work at a reduced salary or pro bono.

Against this background, it is open to sporting clubs to abuse the demand for internships to obtain cheap labour. We base this claim on a number of published advertisements we have seen which contain many or all the features of our Southern County All-Star Manatees job profile (figure 1) and from speaking with colleagues and those who consider themselves victims. In this editorial, we provide seven tips for potential interns and call for guidelines relating to advertisements for internships in our sporting community. We also highlight potential red flags associated with internships and employment.

Figure 1

Picture of a sporting stadium. On the following page is a fictional advertisement for an unethical high-end sporting opportunity.

Low value put on a key role

What would you think if a professional sporting club that reports annual profits in excess of £50 million were to advertise, under the guise of recruiting an intern, for an effectively full time (30 hours/week) Head of Sports Science position, requiring applicants to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Science or Strength and Conditioning, a current or planned Accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach qualification, and the ability to work days and evenings, in return for a proposed annual wage of approximately £12 000? Let us put …

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  • Collaborators Boris Gojanovic.

  • Contributors NA and BC contributed equally to the production of this piece from first draft to submission; however, KE contributed a valuable legal perspective needed for this piece from feedback given after first revision. Additionally Dr Boris Gojanovic and BJSM peer-review team tributed helpful feedback to enrich this paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.