Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of an Integrated Olympic Education Program on Adolescent Athletes' Values and Sport Behavior

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of an Integrated Olympic Education Program on Adolescent Athletes' Values and Sport Behavior

Article excerpt

We examined the effect of an integrated program of Olympic education on adolescent athletes' Olympic values and their behavior in sport. Participants were 747 adolescent athletes (482 boys and 265 girls aged between 13 and 18 years) attending Lithuanian schools implementing (n = 430) or not implementing (n = 317) an integrated Olympic education program. Participants completed questionnaires about Olympic values and prosocial and antisocial behavior in sport. Results showed that adolescent athletes from schools not implementing an Olympic education program scored lower than athletes from schools where this program was implemented, on human values of Olympism, social virtues of Olympism, individual pursuit of excellence, and prosocial behavior in sport.

Keywords: Olympic education, Olympic values, Olympism, prosocial behavior in sport, adolescent athletes.

Contemporary versions of Olympic education and the underlying concept of Olympism draw largely on the nineteenth century writings of French aristocrat and founder of the modern Olympic movement, Pierre de Coubertin (Lenskyj, 2012). A number of scholars (Binder, 2005; Bronikowski, 2006; Culpan & Wigmore, 2010; Naul, 2008; Parry, 2006) treat the Olympic movement, which is based on Olympism philosophy, as a form of education. Because Olympism is a philosophy of life (Binder, 2005), it is oriented not just toward the professional athlete but, rather, toward every individual; not just toward a short period in people's lives but, rather, to a lifelong process; not just to sport activity but, rather, to combining in a balanced whole, the qualities of mind, body, and will (Parry, 2006). In this context, the objective of Olympic education is the development of positive values within the context of participation in sport (Binder, 2012), during which process students not only become acquainted with the Olympic movement, and its ideals and values, but are also encouraged and motivated to practice them in sport and everyday activities (Zukowska & Zukowski, 2010).

Although these values and principles of behavior, such as fairness, equality, and morality, are highlighted in the Olympic movement, the content of Olympic education continues to be discussed (Binder, 2012). In addition, the extent to which these values and behavioral principles are actually practiced within Olympic sport itself and in the Olympic industry, is being questioned (Lenskyj, 2012). Nevertheless, various Olympic education programs are being developed at national and local levels. However, empirical research concerning the efficiency of such programs is lacking.

Although instruments for the evaluation of Olympic education programs have been developed (Grammatikopoulos, Tsigilis, Koustelios, & Theodorakis, 2005), the focus has mostly been on the knowledge that students of various ages possess about Olympic ideals (Telama, Naul, Nupponen, Rychtecký, & Vuolle, 2002), students' attitudes toward Olympic values (Bronikowski & Bronikowska, 2009), youth's understanding of Olympic ideals (Rychtecký & Naul, 2005), the attitude of youth toward fair play as a core value of Olympic education (Zukowska & Z ukowski, 2010), and also the opinion of Olympic athletes about the role of the Olympic Games in the development of their personal identity (Barker, Barker-Ruchti, Rynne, & Lee, 2012). For example, Budreikaite (2012) examined the impact of an Olympic education program on the moral values of sixth-grade students. Researchers have revealed the effectiveness of an intervention program aimed at developing fair play behavior in students at a school where an Olympic education program was implemented (Hassandra, Goudas, Hatzigeorgiadis, & Theodorakis, 2007).

Olympic education is based on the Olympic movement, with a focus on Olympic values. However, contemporary Olympic sport is not without deficiencies that are also manifested in the sport of children and youth (Kavussanu, 2006), and sport activities are one of the most important extracurricular activities (Fredricks & Eccles, 2006). …

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