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Logan T. Markwell, Andrew J. Strick, and Jared M. Porter

Sports, along with nearly all facets of life, have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Basketball Association quickly adopted a unique method to finish the 2019–2020 regular season and playoffs. The entire league quarantined for months in what was known as the “NBA bubble” where games were played in spectator-less arenas. During this time, increases in shooting accuracy were reported, suggesting that free throws and field goals were made at record-breaking levels. This study examined differences in free throw shooting accuracy with and without spectators. Archival data were retrieved and analyzed to evaluate the potential differences. Free throw shooting accuracy with and without spectators were examined in multiple analyses. Our examination revealed free throw percentages were significantly greater in spectator-less arenas compared with the 2018 and 2019 seasons with spectators. Changes of the environmental characteristics, due to spectator-less arenas, were likely contributors to the improved free throw phenomenon reported in this study.

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Alexandra Stribing, Adam Pennell, Emily N. Gilbert, Lauren J. Lieberman, and Ali Brian

Individuals with visual impairments (VI) trend toward lower motor competence when compared with peers without VI. Various forms of perception often affects motor competence. Thus, it is important to explore factors that influence forms of perception and their differential effects on motor competence for those with VI. Therefore, the purposes of this study were to explore and describe the differential effects of age, gender, and degree of vision on self-perceptions, parents’ perceptions, metaperceptions, and locomotor skills, and to examine potential associations among all variables with actual locomotor competence for adolescents with VI. Adolescents with VI completed two questionnaires and the Test of Gross Motor Development-Third Edition. Parents completed a parent perception questionnaire. Mann–Whitney U and Kruskal–Wallis H analyses showed no differential effects for gender or age on any dependent measures. Degree of vision affected locomotor skills, but not any other factor. Spearman rho correlations showed significant associations among locomotor and self-perceptions, degree of vision and locomotor, and metaperceptions with parents’ perceptions. Adolescents reported relatively high self-perceptions and metaperceptions; however, their actual locomotor competence and parents’ perceptions were relatively low. Findings may help situate future intervention strategies targeting parents supporting their children’s locomotor skills through self-perceptions.

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Paul Bernard Rukavina

The deleterious effects of weight bias in physical activity spaces for children, adolescents, and adults are well documented. Different types of weight bias occur, and they interact at multiple levels within a person’s ecology, from the messaging of often unattainable sociocultural thin/muscular ideals and physical inequities (e.g., equipment not appropriate for body shapes and sizes) to interpersonal and public discriminatory comments. However, the most damaging is the internalization and application of negative weight-bias stereotypes by those with overweight and obesity to themselves. An imperative for social justice is now; there is great need to advocate for, provide support for, and design inclusive physical activity spaces to reduce weight bias so that all individuals feel welcome, accept their bodies, and are empowered to live a healthy, active lifestyle. To make this a reality, an interdisciplinary and preventive approach is needed to understand bias and how to minimize it in our spaces.

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Karol Dillon, Paul Kinnerk, Ian Sherwin, and Philip E. Kearney

Developing players who are adept at using both sides of the body (i.e., bilateral skill) is a challenge for coaches in many sports. With players being required to execute a range of skills with hand and foot on both sides of the body, Gaelic football provides an ideal natural laboratory for the study of laterality. Previous quantitative research has produced equivocal findings regarding the importance of bilateral skill performance in sport. In light of this equivocality, this paper utilized a qualitative approach to distill the beliefs and experiences of 14 players and five coaches who had performed at the highest level in Gaelic football. Three higher order categories were produced from the transcripts: the importance of being bilaterally skilled, the potential to develop bilateral skill, and methods to develop bilateral skills. Overall, this study highlights lessons for the design of future quantitative studies of bilateral skill in sport and should stimulate reflection on current practice regarding both short- and long-term bilateral skill development on the part of researchers, applied sport scientists, and coaches.

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Daniel Read and Daniel Lock

Events such as player protests can create image crises that require sport organizations to engage in political issues. In this manuscript, we blend image repair theory with the social identity approach to leadership to advance knowledge about how sport organizations communicate in response to crises. Applying a discursive social psychology framework to analyze 21 NFL communications and interview statements, we explored how the NFL’s rhetoric evolved in response to the 2016–2020 national anthem and Black Lives Matter protests. The NFL augmented its traditionally militarized patriot identity as the crisis progressed, to address the social change issues raised by protestors. We show that sport organizations use rhetoric to mobilize support for their version of events to manage threats to organizational image. Accordingly, we provide theoretical and managerial implications arguing that apolitical identities are increasingly untenable in sport.

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Stephen Shannon, Mark Shevlin, and Gavin Breslin

Aim: A recent mental health in sport consensus statement advocates Keyes’ two continua model with an associated Mental Health Continuum (MHC) instrument to assess mental health in athletes. However, there remains statistically inconsistent usage of the MHC in athletes, so further exploration of the MHC’s psychometric factors is required. Methods: Athletes (N = 1,097) aged 32.63 (SD = 11.16) comprising 603 females (55.7%) and 478 males (44.3%), completed the 14-item MHC-Short Form, alongside validated measures of anxiety and depression. Five confirmatory factor analytic and bifactor models were developed based on extant research and theory. Results: Overall, a bifactor structure with a “general” positive mental health factor, and three specific factors (“hedonic well-being,” “social well-being,” and “psychological well-being”) fitted the data well and was deemed the superior model. Conclusion: A bifactor model of the MHC-Short Form is recommended comprising a composite score alongside specific factors of hedonic, social, and psychological well-being.

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Leonardo S. Fortes, Maicon R. Albuquerque, Heloiana K.C. Faro, Dalton de Lima-Júnior, Maria E.C. Ferreira, and Sebastião S. Almeida

The study aimed to analyze the effect of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (a-tDCS) over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex on soccer athletes’ decision making and visual search behavior. It was a single-blind, randomized, and experimental investigation. The 23 soccer athletes were pair-matched according to decision-making skill and then randomized into two groups: a-tDCS and sham. The decision making (during small-sided game and screen task) and visual search behavior were measured before and after the 8-week intervention. Only the a-tDCS group reduced response time in the decision-making screen task (p < .05). The a-tDCS group showed a higher number of fixations than sham group (p < .05) during the small-sided game. The a-tDCS group showed a lower duration of fixation than sham group (p < .05) during the small-sided game. Our results indicated that using a-tDCS over left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex changed visual search behavior and improved the response time of decision-making skill.