This study was designed to identify issues and concerns involved in contemporary school sports that are perceived as influencing sports’ potential to achieve educational and developmental objectives (e.g., psychosocial and life skill development). Eleven focus group interviews involving 67 participants were conducted with key constituency groups involved in high school athletics (coaches n=14, athletic directors n=20, school principals n=11, parents of current high school athletes n=11, and student-athletes n=21). Results were content analyzed using a three-person inductive consensus procedure and triangulated across constituency groups. Issues identified as concerns included: inappropriate behaviors in high school sport, increased expectations for success, ramifications of over-commitment, health issues, coaching and administrative issues, and unmet affiliation needs of athletes which impact the motivation. Findings are discussed relative to the professionalization of scholastic sports and threats to its developmental and educational potential. Implications for coaching education are emphasized.
The authors would like to thank Jack Roberts, Executive Director and the staff of the Michigan High School Athletic Association for their assistance in obtaining participants for the study. In addition, we would like to thank Jim Ballard, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals Association for his assistance. A special thanks is extended to the parents, athletes, coaches, principals, and athletic directors who volunteered to take part in this project.