Coaches’ Experiences of Morality in English Professional Football Environments: Recommendations for Creating a Moral Atmosphere

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 Academy of Sport and Physical Activity, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, United Kingdom
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Coaches are key socializing agents who influence the sociomoral context. A function of socialization in coaching is the imparting of values and ideology, which guide behavior. English professional football is known for authoritarian and subservient cultures whereby coaches will enforce cultural norms and values, which consequently shape their players’ moral development. Therefore, from a contextual viewpoint, professional football serves as a suitable site for exploring coaches’ views of morality. This study consisted of two aims: (a) explore English professional football coaches’ experiences of morality in football and (b) share coaches’ accounts of how they create and manage a moral atmosphere. Semistructured interviews were conducted with eight male professional English football coaches. Thematic analysis resulted in two general dimensions: coaches’ experiences of morality and recommendations for creating and managing a moral atmosphere. Coaches shared accounts of the moral conflicts and antisocial behaviors they experienced. The findings suggest that coaches struggle to define morality while highlighting the lack of coach education on the topic. Furthermore, similarities were observed in relation to coaches’ recommendations for creating and managing a moral atmosphere. Therefore, the study concludes by providing a selection of guiding principles that professional football coaches could implement when creating and managing a moral atmosphere.

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