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This study examines the causal effect of different voluntary roles in sport on individuals’ subjective well-being. Theoretically, volunteering can affect well-being through various mechanisms, including enjoyment, new contacts, skill development, exercising altruism, and relational goods. The empirical analysis uses data from 28 European countries (n = 52,957). Subjective well-being is measured with self-reported life satisfaction. The number of administrative roles (e.g., board or committee member, administrative tasks), sport-related roles (e.g., coach, instructor, referee), and operational roles (e.g., organize a sport event, provide transport) capture volunteering. The results of linear regression models support the positive relationship between volunteering and subjective well-being as evident in existing research. However, instrumental variable estimates reveal that only the number of operational roles has a significant positive effect on well-being, whereas the effects of administrative and sport-related roles are jointly significantly negative. The findings of this study have implications for sport organizations and policy makers.
Wicker is with the Department of Sports Sciences, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany. Downward is with the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, United Kingdom.