The Social World of High School Athletic Coaches: Multiple Role Demands and Their Consequences

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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George H. SageUniversity of Northern Colorado

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A field study of high school teacher/coaches was undertaken, guided by the following general questions: What is it like being a high school teacher/coach? What are the main occupational contingencies for high school teacher/coaches? How do teacher/coaches think about themselves and their situations? The larger field study that provided the data base for this paper was conducted over a 5-month period in 1985 during which I observed teacher/coaches in six high schools. The data were drawn from naturally occurring observations and conversations with teacher/coaches, noncoaching teachers, and school administrators. Formal interviews were also conducted with 50 teacher/coaches. Data described in this paper are qualitative and focus on teacher/coaches’ feelings and attitudes about their profession and the meanings about the multiple role demands they are confronted with. The observations and interviews demonstrate quite dramatically the complexity and pervasiveness of role overload and interrole conflict in this occupation and the role strain that results. Coping and resolution strategies used by teacher/coaches are discussed.

This study was supported by research grants from the University of Northern Colorado Research and Publication Board and the College of Human Performance and Leisure Studies Scholarly Activities Fund.

Direct all correspondence to George H. Sage, Department of Kinesiology, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO 80639.
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