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Jesse A. Steinfeldt, Leslie A. Rutkowski, Ellen L. Vaughan and Matthew C. Steinfeldt

In order to identify factors associated with on-field moral functioning among student athletes within the unique context of football, we examined masculine gender role conflict, moral atmosphere, and athletic identity. Using structural equation modeling to assess survey data from 204 high school football players, results demonstrated that moral atmosphere (i.e., the influence of coaches and teammates) was significantly associated with participants’ process of on-field moral functioning across the levels of judgment, intention, and behavior. Neither masculine gender role conflict nor athletic identity significantly predicted moral functioning, but the results indicated that participants’ identification with the athlete role significantly predicted conflict with socialized gender roles. Results suggest that in the aggressive and violent sport of football, coaches can have a direct influence on players’ moral functioning process. Coaches can also have an indirect effect by influencing all the players so that a culture of ethical play can be cultivated among teammates and spread from the top down.

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Jesse Steinfeldt, Leslie A. Rutkowski, Thomas J. Orr and Matthew C. Steinfeldt

This study examined on-field antisocial sports behaviors among 274 American football players in the United States. Results indicated that moral atmosphere (i.e., teammate, coach influence) and conformity to masculine norms were significantly related to participants’ moral behavior on the field (i.e., intimidate, risk injury, cheat, intentionally injure opponents). In other words, the perception that coaches and teammates condone on-field antisocial behaviors—in addition to conforming to societal expectations of traditional masculinity—is related to higher levels of antisocial behaviors on the football field. In addition, conformity to traditional masculine norms mediated the relationship between moral atmosphere and on-field aggressive sports behaviors, suggesting a relationship between social norms and moral atmosphere. Results of this interdisciplinary endeavor are interpreted and situated within the extant literature of both the fields of sport psychology and the psychological study of men and masculinity. Sport psychologists can use results to design interventions that incorporate moral atmosphere and conformity to masculine norms in an effort to decrease aggressive sports behaviors in the violent sport of football.