Exploring Sport Socialization Environments of Persons with Orthopedic Disabilities

By Zoerink, Dean A. | Palaestra, Spring 1992 | Go to article overview

Exploring Sport Socialization Environments of Persons with Orthopedic Disabilities


Zoerink, Dean A., Palaestra


In contemporary American culture many social forces guide individuals into becoming active and productive members of society. Becoming a member of society is partially accomplished by means of socialization which is an "interactional process whereby a person acquires a social identity, learns appropriate role behavior, and in general conforms to expectations held by members of the social system to which he belongs or aspires to belong" (Loy & Ingham, 1973, p. 258). In general terms the socialization process helps one to assimilate political, religious, educational, and occupational orientations. Social learning theorists suggested that such inclinations are generally developed through personal exposure to a model whose behaviors are attended to, rehearsed, and reproduced. This model generally serves as a cue for matching responses. Such responses are regulated by reinforcement strategies which help determine one's orientation (Bandura, 1969; Patterson, 1975). Social environment plays an important role in one's socialization into sport. Sport may be defined as physical activities in which individuals participate for formal competition and winning (Iso-Ahola & Hatfield, 1986).

Variables

Influencing Socialization

Kenyon and McPherson (1973) suggested that three groups of variables influence socialization into sport - (a) personal attributes or individual skills and characteristics; (b) socializing situations or those programs offered by service organizations; and (c) socializing agents or those significant others or groups who influence an individual's attitudes and behaviors into sport roles. Of principal socialization agents-school, peers, and family - the family has been identified as one of the most salient forces during childhood (Iso-Ahola & Hatfield, 1986; Kenyon & McPherson, 1973; Sherrill, 1986a).

Iso-Ahola and Hatfield (1986) theorized that parents significantly influenced their children's involvement in sport and "may be a more important socialization agency than other agencies" (p.59). In support of this claim, Snyder and Spreitzer (1973) tested the proposition that the family was an important force in influencing sport involvement. They concluded that a positive linear relationship existed between parental encouragement and sport involvement. Greendorfer and Lewko (1978) reported that parents, rather than siblings, were significant socializing agents for both genders, and the father was the most important sport socializing agent for boys and girls.

Iso-Ahola and Hatfield (1986) concluded that there were considerable gender differences in sport socialization. They suggested that girls were more interested in unorganized play and social games, whereas boys preferred active, physical games. These differences, they argued, "become even more pronounced" (p. 58) in later years. Lewko and Ewing (1980) concluded that boys, regardless of their levels of involvement, were influenced by family, while girls, who were highly involved in sport, received more influence from family members.

While research has indicated the family to be a potent socializing agent for many able-bodied children, Sherrill (1986a) asserted that friends and community agencies influenced sport involvement of athletes with disabilities. Zoerink (1987) noted that children with disabilities spent an inordinate amount of time in institutional environments receiving medical care. Because of this, time spent within the traditional family framework had been reduced (Zoerink, 1987). It may be, as Zoerink (1986) asserted, that staff and various environments of health-care agencies became important socialization forces.

After age 15 the number of young men receiving spinal cord injuries increases dramatically (Gilgoff, 1983). Since participation in competitive activities generally peaks in most children at about 10 to 11 years (Iso-Ahola & Hatfield, (1986), it may be expected that athletes who acquire disabilities later in life (i. …

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Exploring Sport Socialization Environments of Persons with Orthopedic Disabilities
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