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David L. Shields and Brenda Jo Bredemeier

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Brenda Jo Bredemeier and David L. Shields

The designation of an act as aggressive involves an implicit or explicit moral judgment. Consequently, research on aggression must address the value issues involved. The present article suggests that Haan’s theory of interactional morality can be used to provide a framework for social scientific research into moral issues. Haan’s model, however, must be adapted to the unique context of sport. This study applies the concept of frame analysis as a procedure for clarifying the moral reasoning associated with athletic aggression. In contrast to similar acts in everyday life, moral ambiguity characterizes some sport acts intended to deliver minor noxious stimuli. The label of aggression must be used with caution when designating such acts.

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Brenda Jo Bredemeier and David L. Shields

The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the theoretical and empirical relationship between stages of moral reasoning and athletic aggression, and thus to offer a new model for the investigation of aggression in sport. In this pilot work, 22 female and 24 male basketball players’ moral reasoning levels were determined through the administration of Rest’s Defining Issues Test (DIT); athletic aggression measures included coaches’ ranking and ratings of player aggressiveness, and statistics pertaining to players’ fouls per season game. Significant judgment-action results were congruent with hypothesized relationships. The results are discussed within a cognitive-developmental framework.

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Brenda Jo Bredemeier and David L. Shields

The observation that sport represents a unique context has been widely discussed, but social scientists have done little to empirically examine the moral adaptations of sport participants. In the present study, the divergence between levels of moral reasoning used to discuss hypothetical dilemmas set in sport and in everyday life contexts was investigated among 120 high school and collegiate basketball players, swimmers, and nonathletes. Protocols were scored according to Haan’s interactional model of moral development. It was found that levels of moral reasoning used to discuss sport dilemmas were lower than levels characterizing reasoning about issues within an everyday life context. Findings were discussed in terms of the specific social and moral context of sport experience.

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Douglas E. Gardner, David L. Light Shields, Brenda Jo Light Bredemeier, and Alan Bostrom

The relationship between perceived leadership behaviors and team cohesion in high school and junior college baseball and softball teams was researched. Study participants, 307 athletes representing 23 teams, responded to the perceived version of the Leadership Scale for Sports (LSS) and the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ). Correlational and multivariate analyses indicated significant relationships between perceived leader behaviors and team cohesion. Specifically, coaches who were perceived as high in training and instruction, democratic behavior, social support, and positive feedback, and low in autocratic behavior, had teams that were more cohesive. A MANOVA indicated there were significant differences between genders and athletes at the two school levels in their perceptions of coaching behaviors and team cohesion, though these demographic variables did not significantly moderate the leadership-cohesion relationship.

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Brenda Jo Bredemeier, Maureen R. Weiss, David L. Shields, and Bruce A.B. Cooper

The purpose of this study was to investigate (a) the relationship between children’s judgments regarding the legitimacy of potentially injurious sport acts for adults and for children, (b) the relationships between children’s legitimacy judgments and their moral reasoning, aggression tendencies, and sport involvement, and (c) the relative ability of the latter three variables to predict legitimacy judgments. Analyses were based on 78 girls and boys in grades 4 through 7 who participated in a moral interview, completed aggression ten dency and sport involvement questionnaires, and evaluated the legitimacy of potentially injurious sport acts depicted in a series of slides. Analyses revealed that children accepted more acts as legitimate for adults than for children. Boys’ legitimacy judgments were significantly related to their moral reasoning, aggression tendencies, and involvement in high-contact sports, but girls’ legitimacy judgments were correlated only with their life aggression tendencies. Children’s aggression tendencies were found to be the best predictors of their legitimacy judgments.

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Brenda Jo Bredemeier, David L. Shields, Maureen R. Weiss, and Brace A.B. Cooper

The relationships between sport involvement variables (participation and interest) and facets of children's morality (reasoning maturity and aggression tendencies) were investigated for 106 girls and boys in grades 4 through 7. Children responded to a sport involvement questionnaire, participated in a moral interview, and completed two self-report instruments designed to assess aggression tendencies in sport-specific and daily life contexts. Analyses revealed that boys' participation and interest in high contact sports and girls' participation in medium contact sports (the highest level of contact sport experience they reported) were positively correlated with less mature moral reasoning and greater tendencies to aggress. Regression analyses demonstrated that sport interest predicted reasoning maturity and aggression tendencies better than sport participation. Results and implications are discussed from a structural developmental perspective.