Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

The Relationship between Organizational Commitment, Perceived Relatedness, and Intentions to Continue in Canadian Track and Field Officials

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

The Relationship between Organizational Commitment, Perceived Relatedness, and Intentions to Continue in Canadian Track and Field Officials

Article excerpt

There has been growing recognition for the importance of understanding the experiences of officials involved in sport settings (Rainey, 1995; 1999). One trend that has fuelled much of this research attention on sport officiating has been the alarming rates of attrition from certified officials noted across multiple sports (Deacon, 2001; VanYperen, 1998). Deacon, for example, reported that thirty percent of registered officials annually terminate their involvement with the Canadian Hockey Association. Moreover, data from the National Association of Sport Officials (NASO; 2001) in the United States of America indicate that this trend is prevalent with eighty-five percent of high school sports administrators reporting that officiating registrations within their state are currently declining. These attrition data present two specific problems. First, increased attrition from the pool of available officials creates incongruity between the demand for qualified officials and the availability of certified personnel to officiate sporting events (NASO). Second, the increased attrition rates levy a financial burden on sporting organizations given the fiscal costs required to train new officials (Deacon; NASO; VanYperen). Collectively, these participation trends appear problematic given the importance of officiating for the delivery of sport programs and suggest that research examining the factors promoting continued involvement in sport officials seems worthwhile.

Early attempts to understand officiating experiences in sport settings focused on issues predicting termination decisions and subsequent disengagement behavior (Rainey, 1995; Taylor, Daniel, Leith, & Burke, 1990). An initial study by Taylor et al. noted that levels of burnout mediated the relationship between multiple sources of stress (i.e., fear of failure, role-culture conflict, and interpersonal conflict) and turnover intentions in Canadian soccer officials. Subsequent research, however, suggests that additional factors may impact the stress-intention relationship such as age given that older officials exhibit less stress than younger officials (Kaissidis & Anshei, 1993) and coping strategies that impact acute and chronic stress responses in sport officials (Anshei & Weinberg, 1999; Burke, Joyner, Pim, & Czech, 2000). Extrapolating from the work of Taylor and colleagues, Rainey conducted a series of studies examining the relationship between stress-based models, burnout, and termination intentions in officials from baseball/softball (Rainey, 1995), basketball (Rainey, 1999), and rugby union (Rainey & Hardy, 1999). The overall result of these investigations suggest that different causes of stress appear salient in different sports for predicting burnout; however, elevated levels of burnout consistently predicted intentions to terminate irrespective of the sports officials under investigation.

While these aforementioned studies are informative, and show a consistent pattern of findings between elevated levels of burnout and greater termination intentions in officials from various sports, there appears to be considerable scope for additional inquiry into the intentions of sports officials to continue their involvement. First, the focus of previous investigations has been restricted largely to stress-based models that account for the onset or development of termination intentions in sport officials (Rainey, 1995; Rainey, 1999; Rainey & Hardy, 1999; Taylor et al., 1990). Second, the criterion of interest in the studies by Taylor et al. and Rainey (1995; 1999) was intentions to terminate sport officiating with scant attention focusing on continuance intentions in this cohort. Finally, a careful examination of Rainey's studies indicates that stress-based models combined with age account for between no more than eight percent of the termination intention variance reported in sport officials leaving a considerable portion of variability in termination intentions unexplained. …

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