A Study of Factors That Influence High School Athletes to Choose a College or University, and a Model for the Development of Player Decisions

Article excerpt

Decisions made by high school and college basketball athletes are becoming increasingly complex as sport has evolved into a true industry. The decisions made during the formative years have a tremendous impact upon the individual as well as the institution that the athlete chooses to attend. Most of the studies about athletes and their institution of choice have been primarily descriptive. A better approach is based upon how and why the decisions are made in terms of the formation process. This study was undertaken in two phases; a meta-analysis of the previous studies and the use of word association methodology and a nonlinear program to establish relationships among decision paths. Results indicate that this type of approach helps understand how and why decisions are made to help the individual and the institution achieve a more productive fit.

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The industry associated with basketball has changed significantly in the past few years, and more high school players are turning professional and college players are turning professional before their graduation dates. There has been more stress placed on the economics of the athlete and their potential to earn income. The economics have had a profound influence upon the decision-making of athlete to become involved with the income producing aspects of the sport whether it is participation in professional leagues, semi-professional leagues or sponsor endorsements (Bradle Gwedol n 2005). The decision of the athlete and their family is increasingly complex because the outcome of their decisions could potentially mean millions of dollars in their future career. The primary focus is on putting the player into the right context to showcase his talents and be able to negotiate maximum dollars for his services, especially in regards to the professional draft.

Most of the studies on basketball have been what factors are important in helping the athlete to make a choice about a college or university. These types of studies have been extensive leading back to the nineteen sixties. Although these studies have been extensive they have not taken into consideration changing conditions and how these factors have changed through time. Another element that has been overlooked is the actual decision paths in which an athlete takes to make his final decision (Letawsky, 2003). These decision paths are not only the influences but how the actual decisions are made.

Some of the more significant studies regarding the identifying factors found were by Armour (1968), Reihl (1975), Peters (2000), Heilman (1998), Hendricks (1995), Elliott (1995), Frerking (2002), Krause (2002), and Goldsmith (1987). These studies were used because of the variety of factors in, and their comprehensive approach.

The primary influences of the Armour (1968) study were personal factors such as enthusiasm, sincerity, and dedication of the coach. In the Reihl (1975) study, the primary influences were financial considerations and benefits to the player. In the Peters (2000) study, the primary influences were the opportunity to play early in career, a particular style of basketball, and under a specific head coach. In the Heilman (1998) study, the primary influences were that of the financial element. In the Hendricks (1995) study, the primary focus was on the coach's influence. The Elliot (1995), study was another study that focused primarily on personal influences of recruiting. The Frerking (2002) study's main factors were also dealing with personal influences dealing with the athlete. The Krause (2002) study was that of coaching and recruiting in general and he listed the top facts that he found to be successful in recruiting. In the Goldsmith (1987) thesis, his research directly related to the personal influences dealing with family and friends.

The studies reviewed are primarily of the linear nature in terms of identifying influences in which athletes use in making decisions about their choice of college. …