Competitive engineering is a process whereby sport organizations modify the rules, facilities, and equipment involved in sport to facilitate desirable athlete outcomes and experiences. Competitive engineering is being increasingly adopted by youth sport organizations with empirical evidence positively supporting its influence on skill development and performance. The purpose of this study was to explore young female athletes’ experiences in their modified soccer environment. Seventeen recreational and competitive soccer players, aged 8–11, participated in semistructured photo elicitation interviews that featured several visual qualitative methods (i.e., athlete-directed photography, drawing exercises, and pile-sorting) to facilitate insight on their sport environments. Results revealed that the athletes’ competitively engineered soccer experience was perceived as being a distinct environment that emphasized personal development, positive relationships, and the underlying enjoyment of sport. These findings shed light of how youth sport structure modifications influence the athletes’ experiences, providing practical implications to further promote positive youth sport experiences.
Michelle McCalpin, Blair Evans, and Jean Côté
Brennan Petersen, Mark Eys, Kody Watson, and M. Blair Evans
Given the prevalence of group contexts in sport and the importance of the social environment for motivating youth participants, understanding and enhancing group dynamics are critical to facilitate youths’ participation in, and development through, sport. The current objective was to report on a scoping review that was employed to summarize research focused on the dynamics in youth sport groups. The review identified several themes that have been focused on with regularity (i.e., cohesion) and identified others with opportunities for greater incorporation in youth sport research (e.g., cooperation). Furthermore, encouragement is provided to move beyond survey-based, cross-sectional research and to give greater consideration to a developmental approach to understanding child and youth perceptions of the groups to which they belong. Overall, there are many opportunities for researchers to study the dynamics of youth sport groups with an aim to enhance the experiences of young athletes and facilitate group functioning.
Blair Evans, Ashley Adler, Dany MacDonald, and Jean Côté
Bullying is a specific pattern of repeated victimization explored with great frequency in school-based literature, but receiving little attention within sport. The current study explored the prevalence of bullying in sport, and examined whether bullying experiences were associated with perceptions about relationships with peers and coaches.
Adolescent sport team members (n = 359, 64% female) with an average age of 14.47 years (SD = 1.34) completed a pen-and-paper or online questionnaire assessing how frequently they perpetrated or were victimized by bullying during school and sport generally, as well as recent experiences with 16 bullying behaviors on their sport team. Participants also reported on relationships with their coach and teammates.
Bullying was less prevalent in sport compared with school, and occurred at a relatively low frequency overall. However, by identifying participants who reported experiencing one or more act of bullying on their team recently, results revealed that those victimized through bullying reported weaker connections with peers, whereas those perpetrating bullying only reported weaker coach relationships.
With the underlying message that bullying may occur in adolescent sport through negative teammate interactions, sport researchers should build upon these findings to develop approaches to mitigate peer victimization in sport.
Scott A. Graupensperger, Alex J. Benson, and M. Blair Evans
The authors examined athletes’ conformity to teammates’ risky behaviors through a performance-based manipulation paradigm. They hypothesized that athletes who strongly identified with their team would be at increased risk of conforming to teammates’ behaviors. Athletes (N = 379) from 23 intact National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) teams completed surveys (e.g., social identity) and reported the extent to which they would engage in risky behavior scenarios (e.g., drinking and driving). Then, researchers displayed ostensible responses that were manipulated to appear as though teammates reported high engagement in the risky behaviors. Finally, athletes again responded to the hypothetical scenarios and a conformity index was created. Results indicated that social identity, at both individual and group levels, positively predicted conformity—indicating that athletes with stronger social identities are more susceptible to peer influence. Although these findings highlight a pernicious aspect of social identity, they also provide insight into how group-level processes could be leveraged to prevent risky behaviors in student-athletes.
Kelsey Saizew, M. Blair Evans, Veronica Allan, and Luc J. Martin
The authors explored how sport structure predisposed a team to subgroup formation and influenced athlete interactions and team functioning. A season-long qualitative case study was undertaken with a nationally ranked Canadian track and field team. Semistructured interviews were conducted with coaches (n = 4) and athletes (n = 11) from different event groups (e.g., sprinters, jumpers) at the beginning and at the end of the season. The results highlighted constraints that directly impacted athlete interactions and predisposed the group to subgroup formation (e.g., sport/event type, facility/schedule limitations, team size/change over time). The constraints led to structural divides that impacted interactions but could be overcome through team building, engaging with leaders, and prioritizing communication. These findings underline how structure imposed by the design of sports impacts teammate interactions and how practitioners, coaches, and athletes can manage groups when facing such constraints. The authors describe theoretical and practical implications while also proposing potential future directions.
Oliver W.A. Wilson, Scott Graupensperger, M. Blair Evans, and Melissa Bopp
Background: Entering college is associated with significant lifestyle changes and the potential adoption of a lifelong lifestyle. This study examined the longitudinal relationship between physical activity (PA) and fruit and vegetable consumption (FVC) in the hopes that findings could inform student health promotion. Methods: A total of 369 undergraduate students provided complete responses to demographic, PA, and FVC items via an online survey 3 times over a 6-month period. Random intercept cross-lagged panel modeling examined the association between PA and FVC. Results: Models demonstrated a strong fit for both moderate PA and vigorous PA. In both models, FVC, but not PA, was stable across the 3 waves. Neither model revealed a temporal association between PA and FVC. Unlike the moderate PA model, the vigorous PA model revealed a strong positive association between trait-like vigorous PA and trait-like FVC. Conclusion: The stability of FVC over time reinforces the importance of facilitating the adoption and maintenance of healthy dietary behaviors among college students, whereas the instability of PA over time highlights the importance of promoting students’ PA year round. The absence of a temporal link between PA and FVC indicates that promotion of one behavior should not be assumed to result in improvement of the other.
Kim Gammage, Lori Dithurbide, Alison Ede, Blair Evans, Sean Locke, Eric Martin, Desi McEwan, and Kathleen Wilson
Luc J. Martin, Jessi Wilson, M. Blair Evans, and Kevin S. Spink
Although cliques are often referenced in sporting circles, they have received little attention in the group dynamics literature. This is surprising given their potential influence on group-related processes that could ultimately influence team functioning (e.g., Carron & Eys, 2012). The present study examined competitive athletes’ perceptions of cliques using semistructured interviews with 18 (nine female, nine male) intercollegiate athletes (Mage = 20.9, SD = 1.6) from nine sport teams. Athletes described the formation of cliques as an inevitable and variable process that was influenced by a number of antecedents (e.g., age/tenure, proximity, similarity) and ultimately shaped individual and group outcomes such as isolation, performance, and sport adherence. Further, athletes described positive consequences that emerged when existing cliques exhibited more inclusive behaviors and advanced some areas of focus for the management of cliques within sport teams. Results are discussed from both theoretical and practical perspectives.
Krystn Orr, M. Blair Evans, Katherine A. Tamminen, and Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos
For individuals with an intellectual disability, emerging adulthood (18–25 years) may be a disruptive time with an abrupt ending to programming and services after adolescence. This study critically explores the social environment and experiences of individuals involved in a Special Olympics paddling program for emerging adult athletes with an intellectual disability. Using an instrumental case study design, multiple qualitative methods were implemented including photography, videography, observations, and interviews. The participants included four athletes (one female and three male; three with autism spectrum disorder, one with mild intellectual disability), three fathers, a coach, a program coordinator, and an administrator. Analyses were guided by interpretivism and the quality parasport participation framework. The findings highlight how the limited staff training and preparation, the complexity of providing such a program, and parental hidden labor in their adult children’s sport involvement influence the social environment. Implications for coaching practices include the importance of communication strategies and coach education.
Michael J. Panza, Scott Graupensperger, Jennifer P. Agans, Isabelle Doré, Stewart A. Vella, and Michael Blair Evans
Sport may protect against symptoms of mental disorders that are increasingly prevalent among adolescents. This systematic review explores the relationship between adolescent organized sport participation and self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. From 9,955 records screened, 29 unique articles were selected that included 61 effect sizes and 122,056 participants. Effects were clustered into four categories based on the operationalization of sport involvement: absence or presence of involvement, frequency of involvement, volume of involvement, and duration of participation. Results from the random-effects meta-analyses indicated that symptoms of anxiety and depression were significantly lower among sport-involved adolescents than in those not involved in sport, although this effect size was small in magnitude. Meta-regression was used to identify how age and sex explained heterogeneity in effects. Although these results do not signify a causal effect, they do support theorizing that sport participation during adolescence may be a protective environment against anxiety and depressive symptoms.