Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Resilience, Motivations for Participation, and Perceived Organizational Support Amoungst Aesthetic Sports Officials

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Resilience, Motivations for Participation, and Perceived Organizational Support Amoungst Aesthetic Sports Officials

Article excerpt

Sport officials (e.g., referees, umpires, judges, commissaires) play an important role in providing structured sport opportunities for athletes from the grassroots to elite levels. Their role in enforcing rules, standardizing competitions, and keeping sport safe for all participants is irreplaceable and should not be underestimated. Attrition from the officiating ranks, however, has become a global issue and is now recognized as a significant sport management problem (Cuskelly & Hoye, 2013). Annual dropout rates of up to 30% from the amateur officiating ranks in some sports (Forbes & Livingston, 2013a; Kellett & Shilbury, 2007) have changed little over the years, leading some to suggest that sport officials are seen as a disposable resource by sport administrations (Warner, Tingle & Kellett, 2013). The court of public opinion (Cribb, 2009; Proudfoot, 2009), in contrast, sees high turnover rates to be a natural outcome of the multiple negative stressors (e.g., threats of verbal and physical abuse, need for correct calls in high pressure situations) inherent within the role. In reality, however, there is a relative dearth of information available on the lived experiences of officials (Betts, Forbes, & Livingston, 2007; Forbes & Livingston, 2013a; Philippe, Vallerand, Andrianarisoa, & Brunei, 2009; Trudel, Cote, & Sylvestre, 1996), especially at the entry or amateur levels, and the numerous factors that may weigh on their decisions to terminate participation. Indeed, to date, the majority of investigations on sport officials have focused on the affective (i.e., psychological stress), cognitive (i.e., decision making processes), and motor (i.e., physical fitness, injury) demands of the role as practiced by elite, experienced, adult-aged male officials in mainstream sports such as baseball (Rainey, 1995a; Rainey, 1995b; Rainey & Cherilla, 1993), basketball (Anshel & Weinberg, 1995; Leicht, 2004; Schorer, Neumann, Cobley, Tietjens, & Baker, 2011), and soccer (Jones, Paull, & Erskine, 2002; Krustup et al., 2009; Voight, 2009). Until recently, moreover, few have chosen to exclusively study the female experience in officiating (Baldwin, 2013; Jones & Edwards, 2013; Keller, Bizzini, Feddermann, Junge, & Dvorak, 2012; Tingle, Warner, & Sartore-Baldwin, 2014). As a result, for sports associated with a socially constructed feminine ideal (e.g., figure skating, artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming) and others which rely on qualitative scoring methods (e.g., diving), the research on sport officials (i.e., judges) including their experiences and roles within the sport, is extremely limited.

A recent literature search on judging in aesthetic (or artistic) sports yielded what might be best characterized as a thematically-constrained collection of papers. For example, in diving and synchronized swimming, the focus has shifted little over the past four decades, beginning with methodological examinations of judging systems and practices (e.g., the effects of open feedback scoring and scoring order) (McCormick & Subbaiah, 1979; McCormick, Subbaiah, & Arnold, 1982; Wilson, 1977) to more recent statistical analyses of nationalistic biases in judging in international competitions (Auweele, Boen, De Geest, & Feys, 2004; Emerson, Seltzer, & Lin, 2009). The vote trading scandals in figure skating at the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympic Games (Emerson & Arnold, 2011; Zitzewitz, 2014) provide the most likely explanation for this decade-long intense interest in this topic, with explorations of scoring biases and practices from a statistical (Bucar, Cuk, Pajek, Karacsony & Leskosek, 2012; Gordon & Truchon, 2008; Pajek, Cuk, Pajek, Kovac, & Leskosek, 2013) or philosophical point of view (Bjornsson & McPherson, 2014; McFec, 2013) dominating the figure skating and gymnastics (i.e., artistic and rhythmic) judging literature. There are few notable exceptions to this trend, although the work of Ste-Marie and colleagues (e. …

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