Sport programs are often charged with creating a sense of community (SOC), and it is thought that doing so will benefit participants on and off the field of play. Since SOC is specific to the setting (Hill, 1996) and most research has been conducted outside of sport, the literature has not yet fully demonstrated how and when SOC is created within a sport context. Utilizing a grounded theory and phenomenological approach, this study investigated the mechanisms for creating SOC within a sport setting. Twenty former US college athletes were interviewed regarding their sport experiences. The results revealed that Administrative Consideration, Leadership Opportunities, Equity in Administrative Decisions, Competition, and Social Spaces were the most salient factors that fostered SOC. The results contribute to community building theory, and provide practical solutions for enhancing the participant experience.
Warner is with the Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Dixon is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX.