Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Athletes' Perceptions of Positive Development Resulting from Canadian Intercollegiate Sport: A Content Analysis

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Athletes' Perceptions of Positive Development Resulting from Canadian Intercollegiate Sport: A Content Analysis

Article excerpt

Governing bodies of university sport in North America have recently announced a more holistic approach to athlete development and have focused more attention on their athletes' academic success and personal and socio-emotional growth (Canadian Interuniversity Sport [CIS], 2013; National College Athletic [NCAA], 2015). For instance, the stated aim of CIS is to "inspire Canada's next generation of leaders through excellence in sport and academics" (2013, p. 10). Moreover, the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) has announced a partnership with the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) to begin formally integrating academic and life skill programs, as well as practitioners trained to implement such programs within the NCAA (NCAA, 2015). Although university sport programs have altered their mission statements and have begun to implement programs that target positive development, the positive development of university athletes remains an understudied area of research.

The current knowledge on positive development through university sport stems from a limited number of studies conducted within the CIS context that have examined who is responsible for university athletes' development (i.e., Banwell & Kerr, 2016; Deal & Camire, 2016a, Rathwell & Young, 2017), and what outcomes constitute positive development (i.e., Banwell & Kerr, 2016; Deal & Camire, 2016b; Rathwell & Young, 2016). Banwell and Kerr (2016) interviewed eight Canadian university coaches about how they fostered positive development and found that coaches promoted development through reflection, mentoring, and forming close personal relationship with their athletes. Rathwell and Young (2017) interviewed 15 CIS athletes regarding who was responsible for their personal and socio-emotional development and found that athletes believed they were the main contributors to their own development. However, athletes also identified their athlete peers and coaches as playing major roles in fostering their development. Likewise, through interviews with eight university athletes, Deal and Camire (2016a) found teammates and coaches were important for facilitating volunteer opportunities and teaching athletes how to give back to their communities.

With regards to what constitutes positive development in the university sport context, Deal and Camire (2016a, 2016b) considered athletes' contribution to their own wellbeing, as well as the well-being of others and their communities. They found that university athletes gained the necessary experiences through university sport to become contributing members of their societies. Others have defined positive development as the acquisition of life skills (Banwell & Kerr, 2016; Rathwell & Young, 2016; Rathwell & Young, 2017).

Life skills are skills that enable individuals to succeed in the
different environments in which they live, such as school, home and in
their neighborhoods. Life skills can be behavioral (communicating
effectively with peers and adults) or cognitive (making effective
decisions); interpersonal (being assertive) or intrapersonal (setting
goals). (Danish, Forneris, Hodge, & Heke, 2004, p. 40)

In general, previous research suggests that athletes (Rathwell & Young, 2016, 2017), as well as coaches (Banwell & Kerr, 2016) believe life skills are important indicators of positive development within the university sport context. However, one limitation of the aforementioned studies is that they provide little explanation on how life skills are understood and contextualized within university sport contexts. The current study will add to the literature by qualitatively examining university athletes' perceptions of life skills based on their lived experiences in CIS sport programs.

A popular quantitative measure of life skills is the Youth Experience Scale (YES 2.0; Hansen & Larson, 2005). Gould and Carson (2008) recommended using the YES 2. …

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