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Journal of

Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education


Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education ………………………………… VOLUME 6 ISSUE 3 DECEMBER 2015

JOURNAL OF SPORTS PEDAGOGY AND PHYSICAL EDUCATION www.sportandsociety.com First published in 2015 in Champaign, Illinois, USA by Common Ground Publishing LLC www.commongroundpublishing.com ISSN: 2381-7100 Š 2015 (individual papers), the author(s) Š 2015 (selection and editorial matter) Common Ground All rights reserved. Apart from fair dealing for the purposes of study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the applicable copyright legislation, no part of this work may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the publisher. For permissions and other inquiries, please contact cg-support@commongroundpublishing.com. The Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education is peer-reviewed, supported by rigorous processes of criterionreferenced article ranking and qualitative commentary, ensuring that only intellectual work of the greatest substance and highest significance is published.

EDITOR ………………………………… Dr. Keith Gilbert, University of East London, UK

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD ………………………………… Jean Côté, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada Mojca Doupona, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia Keith Gilbert, University of East London, London, UK Jack Jedwab, Association for Canadian Studies, Montreal, Canada Karen Jones, Amsterdam University, Amsterdam, Netherlands Sid Katz, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada Richard Lichen, Beijing Sports University, Beijing, China Otto J. Schantz, University of Koblenz, Landau, Germany Karin Volkwein-Caplan, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, USA Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

ASSOCIATE EDITORS ………………………………… Alison Rodriguez Andre Luiz Teixeira Reis Brian McDonnell Bryon Martin Cecilia A. Brantley Cheikh Tidiane Lo Chelsea Litchfield Christina Canali David Spencer Martin Deborah Agnew Ersan Basar Melanie Lang Olivia Kellyann Rose Rachel Daltry Randal Peters Stephanie Dohrn

Scope and Concerns GAME LOGIC ………………………………… Sport’s psycho-social motivations are built around a variety of game logics. Games are spaces of recreation and leisure; they are places of not-work; they stand outside the immediately functional, productive logics of employment and citizenship. However, they also reflect and reinforce the moral meanings of broader society: the values of energetic commitment; the virtue of developing skill; the challenge of striving to achieve; the rigors of competition; the rewards afforded to effort; the ethics of formal equality of opportunity (the ‘level playing field); the vicissitudes of chance; magnanimity in loss; and in team sports the ethics of collaboration. The virtues of the “sporting spirit” are complement aspirational values in a wide variety of practices in education, work and civic participation. Yet the spirit of sport sits in tension with other complex and at times contradictory forces, ostensibly less part of its “true spirit” but which nevertheless at times seem intrinsic to its gaming logic. Is sport ritualized aggression, quasi-military in its formation, and to the extent that it is, is it a catharsis or catalyst sublimating other problems? Are values of competition a necessary and proper reflection of the motivations that drive market societies, or do they represent “survival of the fittest” logic in which a few perennially win at the expense of the many who, game logic dictates, must lose? To what extent does game logic also tempt transgression of rules, from cheating to doping? How do we negotiate racism, sexism, homophobia and denigratory nationalism in sports?

BODY LOGIC ………………………………… Sport also rests on a range of body logics. One logic is one of health, a counterpoint to work which for the majority of modern people is largely sedentary. Sport is a necessary antidote. Another logic is that of body image, captured visually in the ideal type of the physically fit man or woman. Another logic is body-to-body contact, the strictly delimited violence of contact sports or bodily co-ordination in sports of graceful movement. Another is the subtle or not-so-subtle expression of sexuality in sport. However, sitting in tension with these idealizations are difficulties and challenges intrinsic to the logic of the sporting body itself. How do we make sports accessible to, and inclusive of, bodies outside of the ideal body type? How do we deal with the tendency to lionize unnatural extremes in the sporting body, and the over-exercise, drugs or assistive technologies which may be used to produce extreme effects? How do we reduce violence in sport and connected with sport? How do we address the perils of the sexualization of sport? How do we negotiate polyvalent sexualities?

AESTHETIC LOGIC ………………………………… There are multiple aesthetics to sport, too. Sporting activities are driven by stories. The game is an open-ended, participatory narrative. It is a journey in time and space—the race or the match, for instance. Sporting achievements fold into everyday life narratives. Then there is the intrinsic aesthetic of movement, of graceful or impressively forceful bodies in time and space, of being outdoors or in a specially designed indoor spaces. Sport is also driven by ritual: formalised beginnings, stages and ends for participants and the stuff of spectacle and entertainment for viewers. This is the raw material for representation in conversation, media, advertising and the arts-through discourses, imageries, sounds and tactile sensations. Sport’s sites of representation are print, television, radio, the internet--indeed any and all media, each with its characteristic forms and all in a state today of radical transformation. However, sitting in tension with a positive aesthetics are the often crude functionalism of sporting spaces, the rabid commercialization of popular sport, the passivity of the spectacle and limited and differential access to the media for different sports or categories of player.

ORGANIZATIONAL LOGIC ………………………………… Sports are forms of social organization. They depend upon, and are always supported by, institutional infrastructures and processes of management. Physical facilities are needed. Players need to learn to play. They need times and places to practice, and coaches to lead. These are the pragmatics of doing sport, and doing it well. This is the stuff of sports education, sports medicine and sports management, practiced by and for amateurs as well as professionals. However, how does organization logic at times lead to excessive commercialism or even exploitation? When it does it become overburdened by bureaucracy? When does leisure become work in a way that perhaps defeats the purpose of sport-as-leisure? The International Conference on Sport and Society and its companion journal, book series and online community are places for the systematic examination a relationship in which sport oft-times enhances social life, while at other times it reflects broader social challenges as well as raising challenges unique to sport itself. These are the discussion forums of this knowledge community.

Table of Contents Australian Parents’ Perceptions of the Issues Faced by their Adolescent High Performance Sports Children in Balancing School and Sport ....................................1 Maureen O'Neill, Angela Calder, and Bill Allen Respect in Sport: The Perceived Impact on Parental Behavior in Minor Hockey ............................................................................................................13 Julie Booke and Joe Pavelka

Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education Volume 6, Issue 3, 2015, www.sportandsociety.com, ISSN 2381-7100 Š Common Ground, Author(s), All Rights Reserved, Permissions: cg-support@commongroundpublishing.com

Australian Parents’ Perceptions of the Issues Faced by their Adolescent High Performance Sports Children in Balancing School and Sport Maureen O'Neill, Australian Catholic University, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia Angela Calder, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia Bill Allen, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia Abstract: The daily pressures faced by high-performance athletes who are still at school and juggling two full-time workloads are observed firsthand by their parents. As part of a larger study involving a 360o view of this issue, 19 athletes, 10 teachers, and 10 parents of Australian secondary school high-performance athletes were interviewed. This study reports on the parents' perspectives. Nine mothers and one father were interviewed about their views of the issues faced by their child in juggling commitments to both school and sport. Children of these parents performed at national or international levels in sport and attended either a non-government or government Australian secondary school. Interviews were recorded with a Livescribe™ pen and data was analysed with NVivo 10SP6 TM to reveal themes of parental concerns. The most important issues that all parents identified were related to sibling relationships, physical demands faced by their child, financial sacrifices, and the pushy parent. A comparison of these findings with our previously published data from 19 Australian high-performance school-age athletes revealed some similarities and some differences between the perceptions of parents and athletes. Common issues identified by both groups related to physical stresses, financial sacrifices, and over the top parents. However, issues emphasised strongly by athletes but noted only minimally or not identified at all by parents included problems for the athletes with bullying at school, a reduced social life, management problems with schoolwork, and exposure to alcohol and drug-taking situations. Sibling rivalry and conflict were issues noted by all nine mothers but not reported as an issue by athletes. These different perceptions highlight areas that may reflect their relative importance to athletes and parents and this may have an impact on the effectiveness of the support parents provide for their child. Recommendations from this study include raising awareness of the athlete’s different views with parents and reinforcing the monitoring strategies parents can use to complement those used by coaches and teachers to gain a more comprehensive approach to assessing their child’s adaptation to stress. Keywords: High-performance Athletes, School-age Athletes, Parents’ Views



uge training volumes and competition pressures are becoming increasingly common for talented children and adolescents as part of their sporting goals (Appleton, Hall, and Hill 2010; Wolfenden and Holt 2005). Whilst high-performance programs are designed to prepare athletes for competition at national and international levels, the commitment and work required exposes these school-aged athletes to extraordinary pressures well beyond those of their less sporting adolescent classmates. The challenges faced by these young students in balancing their educational and sports commitments has been the subject of a number of recent investigations, particularly focusing on identifying the stresses these athletes perceive in dealing with the demands of two lives (Christensen and Sørensen 2009; Godber 2012; O’Neill, Allen and Calder 2013; Reeves, Nicholls, and McKenna 2009). However, specific investigations focusing on the parents’ perceptions of this balancing act are less common. This paper explores the issues Australian parents identify concerning their high-performance secondary school students when combining both education and sporting commitments, and it compares these views with those we have already reported from Australian school-aged high-performance athletes themselves (O’Neill, Allen, and Calder 2013). Research investigating parents’ views on issues affecting their talented sports children have tended to focus on parent-athlete relationships in terms of parental support, parental pressures, and socialisation (Anderson et al. 2003; Kristiansen and Roberts 2010; Park and Kim 2014; Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education Volume 6, Issue 3, 2015, www.sportandsociety.com ISSN 2381-7100 © Common Ground, Maureen O'Neill, Angela Calder, Bill Allen, All Rights Reserved Permissions: cg-support@commongroundpublishing.com


Simpkins et al. 2010) rather than targeting parents’ perceptions about the pressures their child encounters in balancing school and sport (Harwood and Knight 2009). The importance of parents in providing emotional and tangible support for their talented children is well documented (Baker et al. 2003; Dorsch, Smith and McDonough 2009; Leff and Hoyle 1995) as is the influence of the family (Appleton, Hall and Hill 2010; Coté 1999) although some studies have indicated that fathers and mothers play different roles in providing this support (Appleton, Hall and Hill 2010; Kirk et al.1997b; Simpkins et al. 2010; Wolfenden and Holt 2005; Wuerth and Alfermann 2004). However parental support can also be a source of stress for their sporting children through overinvolvement in the sport, unrealistic expectations and negative comments (Gould et al. 2008; Holt et al. 2008; Reeves, Nicholls and McKenna 2009; Wolfenden and Holt 2005). A few researchers have also noted that parental support for a talented child often requires extra effort and family sacrifice than that allocated for less talented or non-sporting siblings and this has led to rivalry and conflict within the family unit (Harwood and Knight 2009; Kirk et al.1997b; Wolfenden and Holt 2005). Specific stresses experienced by parents in providing the necessary support for their talented children include organisation and time commitments (Kirk et al.1997b), extra financial burdens (Harwood & Knight 2009; Kirk et al. 1997a), dealing with coaches and other parents (Kerr and Stirling 2012), providing emotional and motivational support (Gould, Dieffenbach and Moffett 2002) and voicing concerns about future careers for their talented sports child (Wolfenden and Holt 2005). Although positive parental support and encouragement contribute to an athlete’s self-esteem and enjoyment for sport, talented school-age athletes are still faced with a complex balancing act (Godber 2012; Wilding 2014). Stresses reported by Australian high-performance school-age athletes in coping with these dual roles (Kirk et al. 1997a; Penney and Hay 2008) align with similar stresses identified by school-age athletes in other countries (Godber 2012; Radke and Coalter, 2007; Wilding 2014). Previously we have reported on five categories of pressures and stress identified by 19 Australian high-performance school-age athletes (O’Neill, Allen and Calder 2013). Pressures aligned with physical issues related to fatigue, muscle soreness, insufficient sleep, and appropriate and timely nutrition. Time management problems identified by athletes related to stresses associated with training, preparation for competitions, school assignments, classes and exams, attending or missing social activities with friends, procrastination and spending time on social media. Psychological pressures were also an issue particularly in relation to being bullied at school or to jealous school peers (O’Neill, Allen and Calder 2014). Financial pressures created a feeling of guilt for most athletes as they felt that their sporting goals put massive financial strains on their families. These financial stresses were exacerbated by lost income for parents who spent large amounts of time transporting their child to training at the expense of working (Kirk et al 1997a; Wilding 2014). Finally, athletes identified the sacrifices they personally had to make in forgoing a social life in order to train and compete (O’Neill, Allen and Calder 2013). Consequently, the aim of this project was to identify any gaps between parents and athletes views about how high-performance school-age athletes cope with juggling two lives. Any differing perceptions between the two groups may highlight areas of parental support that are not congruent with athletes’ views and such disparities may impact on the effectiveness of parental support, an observation noted in other research comparing parents and athletes perspectives with regards to social support (Park and Kim 2014). Our study aimed to identify any similarities and discrepancies in the perceptions of parents and athletes and provide recommendations that parents could adopt in order to maximise the effectiveness of their support for their talented sporting school-age children.



Method Participants Ten parents of Australian high-performance school-age athletes were interviewed, nine female and one male (Table 1). Parents were selected from recommendations by various sporting organisations and from school teachers who taught high-performance athletes in either a government or a non-government school. Participants came from the eastern states of Australia and were selected because they were the parents of current or former high-performance schoolaged athletes competing at national events for their age or at open competitions such as World Championships, Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games. Participant P1 P2 P3 P4 P5 P6 P7 P8 P9 P10

Gender F F F F F F M F F F

Table 1: Parent Demographics (N=10) Child’s school type High-performance child at school Non-government Mother of 15yr old current swimmer Non-government Mother of 15yr old current gymnast Government Mother of 15yr old current netballer Government Mother of 15yr old former dancer Non-government Mother of 17yr old former surf life saver Government Mother of 15yr old current soccer player Non-government Father of 16yr old former rugby union player Non-government Mother of 17yr old current swimmer Government Mother of 17yr old current tennis player Non-government Mother of 17yr old former gymnast

Six participants were parents of current junior athletes and four were parents of former athletes. A wide range of sports were represented by the children from the parent cohort. These included individual sports as diverse as swimming, gymnastics, surf lifesaving, dancing, and tennis, and from team sports including soccer, netball and rugby union. The children of six of the participating parents attended non-government schools and four attended government schools. Ethics approval for this research was obtained from the named institutional Human Ethics Committee. To that extent participants were de-identified and coded numerically.

Data Collection Data was collected by semi-structured interviews using a LivescribeTM pen to record responses. The main questions posed were focused on the parents’ perceptions of what their highperformance school-age children experienced in balancing life as a student and as an athlete. For example, What problems does your child encounter? This approach allowed each participant to incorporate any information they felt was relevant concerning their child’s needs and problems. The interviews were transcribed and returned to the relevant participant for confirmation before data analysis began.

Data Analysis Data analysis was conducted using NVivo 10SP6TM. A four-stage schedule was used to analyse the data through descriptive, topic, analytic, and drawing conclusion stages (Edhlund 2011; Sinkovics and Alfoldi 2012). This process involved data being sorted from lower to higher order themes through four stages. NVivo statistical and analytical tools known as queries were used to discern and interpret the data from each participant with reference to each of these themes.



Results Although all efforts were made to interview both parents only one father (P7) was available for this study. Each of the families involved indicated that their busy schedules meant that most fathers simply did not have enough time for an interview and that mothers were often more acquainted with the daily organisation schedules of the child. A common comment from fathers declining to be interviewed was; let mum do the interview as she knows all the details Additionally fathers work demands made them less accessible than the mothers in this study as was evidenced in the interview with the sole male participant that occurred in the boarding lounge of a busy international airport. All of the parents interviewed identified themselves as the primary caregivers for their child. Table 2: Similarities between Parents’ and Athletes’* Responses Main issues identified by parents Parents (n10) Sibling relationships Sibling rivalry and conflict 9 (all mothers) Physical demands Fatigue All Nutrition All Sleep 2 Financial difficulties Financial hardships and sacrifices for the family All Parents juggling work and child’s sport commitments All Over the top and pushy parents 7 Source: *Data adapted from O’Neill, Allen and Calder 2013

Athletes (n19) * None mentioned All All 3 10 (all former athletes) All 10 (all former athletes)

Similarities in Parents’ and Athletes’ Responses Parents identified issues relating to four major themes: sibling relationships, physical demands on the child, finances, and over the top parents (Table 2). These issues corresponded strongly with those identified by athletes interviewed within the same study and published previously (O’Neill, Allen and Calder 2013).

Sibling Relationships All nine mothers interviewed indicated that they exempted the high-performance athlete from the same household duties that other siblings were expected to do and all added that there was conflict between siblings as a result. Most mothers felt this exemption was necessary for the high-performance athlete who needed switch off time from physically demanding commitments to training. The exempted domestic duties then often became the responsibility of the other siblings in the family. For example, the mother of a school-age gymnast (P2) commented about the need to support their talented athlete by allowing the child to get out of doing chores or by making allowances for this talented child. The mother commented: There are times when we have to make allowances for XXXX not to do some of the chores. At these times we then remind her about the allowances she has been given at home. (P2)



This mother was very aware of favouring one child over the other but simply explained that the whole family had to make exemptions due to the need of this one child to be a highperformance athlete. P2 admitted that this situation had unleashed unpleasant resentment and anger between the siblings and added that this left her with a degree of guilt for the resulting conflict. I blame myself for the resentment of the child who is not our high-performance child as I simply assumed she would accept all the extra duties and not be unhappy with this knowing her sister who is our high-performance athlete, can’t possibly be expected to do chores after the physically draining day she has had. (P2) Sibling rivalry was also raised by other mothers. There has been some resentment from the older siblings in the household that are not elite athletes and often times the older sister has sometimes made comment about the times I have made allowances of XXXX for not doing or being diligent with her chores so the older sister has to do them instead. (P4) Expecting the older sister to take these chores on and this is a subject that has come up on numerous occasions. (P5) The mother of a soccer athlete acknowledged the burden placed upon the child who was not the high-performance child and indicated that it was important for parents: To be mindful that you are not putting one child up on a pedestal and making the other child carry the burden of chores. (P6)

Physical Demands on the Child Fatigue: The physical state of fatigue was mentioned by all parents. This was typically expressed as their son or daughter was often exhausted or extremely weary (P5). They come home, eat and they are so exhausted. (P10) I constantly see how exhausted my daughter is after training. (P2) Nutrition: Linked closely with the state of physical fatigue were the nutritional needs of the athlete. Organising and cooking healthy hearty meals (P2) and preparing food for the week was mentioned by all mothers interviewed. One mother shared her admiration for her young 15 year old high-performance swimmer as she discussed how her child cooked and created a food plan for the week: Some days she (athlete) cooks stir fry, pizzas and other meals that add up to five days of meals. She then stores it in the fridge and then it is ready to just heat, so this way her food is organised for her to take to each early morning session. (P1) However, only one parent emphasised the importance of good food to be available for their child throughout the school day: My son needs good school lunch options plus a good variety of meals at night. (P4) Sleep: In addition to a good diet, sleep was reported by two parents as being an important issue due to the fatiguing demands on the talented sports child. P3 highlighted the need for a



sleep room at school for athletes as a result of the cumulative fatigue from early morning training and the demands of a full day at school and training after school. This mother suggested that this type of room should be quite separate to the nominated school sick room. Student athletes would benefit from a room that was hygienic and safe and allowed the athlete to simply chill out or catch up on a much needed power nap during the day in order to cope with the hectic demands of training before and after school as well as classes at school.

Finances Financial stress involving sacrifices that impacted on the whole family was reported by all parents. The mother of a high-performance tennis player commented that the high costs associated with providing for her child also encompassed: The tennis school charging additionally for all competitions and tournaments and so the tournament expenses and the tennis school became so costly. (P9) Financial issues were especially stressful for single parents required to work full time and still provide all the organisational support for their children. It is always a struggle. (P4) To commit to gymnastics as a parent you almost had to be a non-working parent as I am a single fulltime working mother it was always a struggle. I think if they allowed for some levels to be split over 1 and 1/2 years it would have been better. (P2) Financial assistance was occasionally available to some families in the form of subsidies offered to those families by their child’s school to help pay for representative sport: We receive some financial support from our school P and C if you make a regional level or beyond in a team or as an individual you get an amount of money to fund your representative levies and this increases the higher you go. To date we have been financed for each representation my daughter has done. (P9) The one father in this study reflected that as a former elite school-age athlete himself, he was now able to realise that financing sport as a parent was difficult: I now realise the financial strain it must have placed on my parents trying to afford to finance all the sporting fees and other requirements such as equipment and food I needed in the sport I was competing in. (P7) Interestingly all parents recognised that their high-performance school aged athlete child reported experiencing stress or guilt feelings as a result of the financial demands their sporting commitments placed on their families.

Over the Top (Excessively Passionate) Parents and Pushy Parents Another finding was the awareness parents clearly noted about the behaviour of other parents as spectators. In the words of most participants (P3, P4, P6, P7, P8, P9, P10) those parents who are over passionate in support of their children on the field are tagged as over the top parents. So we don’t need over the top parents ruining this for high-performance athletes. Over the top parents try to over protect and live their own dreams through their own children. This is certainly not needed for school-age athletes. (P3)



One mother (P7) spoke of instances of parents yelling bad language and threats from the side line at the athletes on the field. The sole father (P7) described the poor behaviour of parents he had witnessed on the football field. In the words of this father an unsavoury melee occurred as a result of the over the top parents simply being too intense with the game their children were playing. Now as a parent standing on the side lines watching my son I’m shock and embarrassed about some of the bad behaviour of over the top parents. During one state school boy’s final a melee happened on the field where parents actually jumped the fence and started hitting the players on the field. This is simply unacceptable and beyond excusing it as ‘parent passion’. It’s sad…to me it’s about the inability of such desperate parents who simply didn’t make it and are imposing it upon their children to do so...really just so sad. (P7) P8 suggested that only the parents that pushed the image of their child forward at the school got attention and certainly achieved school scholarships: My daughter did apply for a school scholarship and they never granted her one even though she was representing Australia in the sport of sprint kayaking. The ones that got it had parents that were pushy. (P8)

Differences between Parents’ and Athletes’ Responses When the data from parents in this study were compared with data from a group of Australian high-performance athletes comprising nine current and ten former national and international school aged athletes (O’Neill, Allen and Calder 2013) several similarities (Table 2) and differences were evident (Table 3). Table 3. Differences between Parents’ and Athletes’* Responses Other issues identified mainly by athletes Parents Athlete (n19)*# (n10) Time management Athlete balancing school, sport, family and friends 3 All School work Having to catch up on missed classes 3 All Juggling missed school assignments None All mentioned Social Limited or non-existent social life 2 All Jealousy and bullying from school peers and teachers None 12 (all females)# mentioned Alcohol & Drug taking by the athlete or their peers None All mentioned Sources: Data adapted from *O’Neill, Allen and Calder 2103 and # O’Neill, Allen and Calder 2014

All 19 athletes but only three parents reported time management issues related to athletes’ balancing school, sport, family and social lives. In particular the impact that training had on reducing athletes social time with peers and friends was a concern for all athletes but was mentioned by only three parents (O’Neill Allen and Calder 2103). No parents identified issues relating to school peers being envious but all 12 female athletes reported that they had experienced jealousy or bullying from peers and even some teachers (O’Neill Allen and Calder 2014). Similarly parents were either not aware or chose not to indicate that their child was



dealing with issues related to alcohol and/or social drugs despite the fact that some of the athletes interviewed admitted to using marijuana or engaging in binge drinking.

Discussion Our findings support results from other research involving parents of high-performance school age athletes. For example the disproportionate representation of mothers to fathers in our investigation is typical of the unequal representation of mothers and fathers reported in other studies (Appleton Hall and Hill 2010; Simpkins et al. 2010; Wolfenden and Holt 2005; Wuerth and Alferman 2004). This unequal parental representation is a reflection of the different family roles undertaken by each parent with mothers taking on a larger domestic role almost as an extension of their maternal responsibilities while fathers concentrate on being the main income providers (Kirk et al. 2006). Hence the responses of the sole father (P7) in this study were less about day-to-day domestic concerns within the family e.g. sibling rivalry (Table 2) and more about external issues impacting on the athlete, such as the behaviours of over the top parents. Whilst it is important to have the views of both parents, information from the primary domestic source i.e. nine mothers, afforded a more comprehensive view of daily issues within the family environment.

Similarities between Parent and Athlete responses The observations of mothers in this study corresponds with the opinions of Australian highperformance school age athletes themselves about the pressures and problems they face in balancing school and sport. (Table 2) In particular both groups recognised that enormous workloads and physical stresses result in constant daily fatigue for the athlete. This demanding situation is compounded by adolescent growth issues and so extra attention needs to be paid to the health, nutrition and well-being of these individuals. Adolescent athletes subjected to long term physical and psychological stresses are at greater risk of physical and psychological problems such as injuries, overtraining or burnout than are their less active school peers (Gould and Dieffenbach 2002; Wilding 2014). Consequently it is vital for parents to have comprehensive observational measures to assess their child’s responses to stress on a daily basis in order to detect any potential problems at an early stage and apply interventional strategies to minimise these problems. While it is well documented that parents are well motivated to provide emotional and tangible support for their talented child (Baker et al. 2003; Dorsch, Smith and McDonough 2009; Leff and Hoyle 1995) they rarely receive any formal training about what and how to monitor their child’s responses to stress. It is assumed that supportive parents already possess the appropriate knowledge and skills to observe and respond to their child’s stresses but this may not be the case (Kerr and Stirling 2012). National Sporting Organisations could provide parents with a list of key markers to gauge their child’s responses to physical and psychological stresses. Parents could record these signs and symptoms daily in an electronic diary similar to those used by athletes and coaches (Calder 2006). Such observations when coupled with those recorded daily by the athlete, coach and school teachers can provide a comprehensive 360 o view of the athlete’s responses to stress and act as an early warning tool to detect any indications of maladaptation or excessive stress. Early detection and early intervention is essential for the health and wellbeing of high-performance athletes of any age but more so when they are going through adolescence. All mothers in this study reported that the extra attention and monies required to support their talented child lead to family conflict or rivalry (Table 2). This finding corresponds to former studies that have reported sibling rivalry and conflict due to unequal amounts of time, money, and attention being allocated to children in the family (Harwood and Knight 2009; Kirk at al. 1997b). Interestingly none of the current athletes in the larger study reported this to be an issue 8


for them only the former athletes whose reflections of the past indicated that there were financial concerns for their family (Table 2). This discrepancy in reports from parents and athletes may be a reflection of their respective views on the issue (Gould Dieffenbach and Moffett; 2002) with athletes focusing on the support they received rather than any ensuing conflict or rivalry with siblings. Sibling rivalry and sibling support for talented athletes has been reported in a few studies (Coté 1999; Gould Dieffenbach and Moffett 2002) but this aspect is worthy of more focused examinations in relation to the short and long term impacts this may have on the individuals within the family and the family unit as a whole. Increased family sacrifices in terms of money and time were issues reported in previous research (Dorsch Smith and McDonough 2009; Harwood & Knight 2009; Kirk et al. 1997a; Wilding 2014) and these were also common to parents in our study. Financial demands were especially stressful for single mothers who fulfilled both domestic and financial provider roles for their child. Interestingly all ten parents reported that their child did feel a sense of guilt for the financial costs that their sporting commitments placed on the household and these family sacrifices added extra psychological pressures on the athlete. The discrepancy between parents’ reports and those from athletes highlights the need to explore the impact of this issue in more depth especially if financial pressures result in a sense of guilt and emotional stress for athletes. Another source of psychological stress noted by most parents and all former athletes in the larger study involved the behaviours of other parents at training or competitions. Parents and athletes comments about over the top or pushy parent behaviours correspond with reports from other researchers (Gould et al. 2008; Kerr and Stirling 2012; Reeves, Nicholls and McKenna 2009; Wolfenden and Holt 2005). Interestingly, this type of behaviour was not reported by athletes about their own parents but was still regarded as an external source of pressure they and their parents faced.

Differences between Parent and Athlete Responses Time management was an issue noted by all athletes but only three parents identified this as an issue for their child (Table 3). The challenges involved with combining two workloads and the extra stress from catching up with missed classes and assignments may have been so obvious to parents like the elephant in the room that time management pressures were taken as inevitable. Several parents acknowledged that their child had good time management and planning skills but most parents failed to acknowledge that this was still a stressful issue for their child. The most startling differences between parent and athletes responses related to the pressures athletes experienced in their social lives particularly in relation to their school peers. While most athletes reported they were prepared to make sacrifices to have more time to follow their sporting ambitions (O’Neill Allen and Calder 2013) they were not prepared for the negativity, jealousy and bullying they experienced at school. Although this was not reported as an issue by the seven male athletes in our larger study neither was it mentioned by any parents interviewed in this study, yet all twelve female athletes identified this as a major problem they had encountered (O’Neill Allen and Calder 2014). Similarly issues related to alcohol and social drug use were reported by all 19 athletes but not mentioned by any parents. The psychological stresses associated with these social issues can have a detrimental impact on the athlete’s health and self-esteem and undermine the efforts of parents to provide a supportive environment for the athlete. However, the discrepancies between athletes’ reports and parents perceptions is not uncommon. Other researchers have reported situations where parents expend significant effort to support their children but gaps between the parents’ perspectives and child’s identified needs can render parental support less effective than it could be with a comprehensive view from the perspectives of both parties (Park and Kim 2014). It is unclear whether parents are unaware of these differences or whether they are aware of these issues but do not rate these as serious enough to warrant reporting. In some cases athletes



might hide stressful information from their parents to minimize parental anxiety about them especially if it involves antisocial behaviours like drug taking. This discrepancy of views needs examining in more detail to identify whether there is a communication breakdown between athlete and parents or why parents do not rate these as stressful situations for the athlete. Results from such a study could offer insights into these different perspectives and provide recommendations to enable more effective parental support for athletes. The main limitations of this study relate to the small sample size and the unequal representation of mothers. Ideally both parents’ views would have provided a more comprehensive perspective, however in all cases the primary caregiver was the parent interviewed. Consequently a larger parent cohort from a wider range of Australia states would enhance the breadth and depth of the existing data.

Conclusion This study was conducted as part of a larger study exploring parents and athletes’ views about the pressures and stresses that high-performance school age athletes experience in juggling two lives. The parental perspectives reported in this study complement information from other studies that have reported on the athlete’s perspectives balancing sport and school commitments. Issues identified by both parents and athletes recognised stresses related to athlete time management, financial stress on the family and physical demands on the athlete. However several social issues faced by athletes relating to bullying and drug use were not acknowledged as issues by parents, and this potentially could lead to less effective parental support if their perceptions are not congruent with athlete needs. Further research examining the disparities between parent and athletes perceptions is needed to elucidate the reasons for these different views. Parents are in an ideal position to monitor athletes stress responses on a daily basis, and as such they are better positioned than coaches or teachers who have less frequent contact with athletes. Dedicated parental support for high-performance athletes who are still at school is most effective if parents are aware of all the issues affecting the athlete. We recommend the adoption of a 3600 approach to monitoring athlete stresses. This involves combining information from the athlete, parents, coach and teachers in order to provide the most comprehensive overview of the state of health and well-being of the athlete. This holistic approach addresses the development of the athlete in both their sport and education lives and enables parents to provide for the best support required. Accordingly our research has contributed to this area of study by reporting on parents’ views about athlete issues with balancing sport and school. Integrating the views of parents and athletes with those from teachers and coaches is the next stage in this process.

Acknowledgement The authors would like to thank the participants and their families for their support for this study.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS Dr. Maureen O'Neill: Researcher and Lecturer, School of Education and Office of Research and Education, Australian Catholic University and the University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia Angela Calder: Lecturer, Sport Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia Dr. Bill Allen: Senior Lecturer of Education, School of Education, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia


Respect in Sport: The Perceived Impact on Parental Behavior in Minor Hockey Julie Booke, Mount Royal University, Canada Joe Pavelka, Mount Royal University, Canada Abstract: The reported increase of unethical conduct in all levels of sport diminishes the value of sport and risks turning away participants and fans at all levels. This paper focuses on root causes of inappropriate behavior in sport related to parental involvement. Literature suggests that negative parent behavior affects the safety and enjoyment of participating athletes. In an effort to deal with negative behaviors, Respect Group developed the Respect in Sport (RiS) education program geared to parents. The aim of this research is to explore the effectiveness of RiS and its impact on a group of minor hockey parents in Calgary, Canada. A survey was administered to all parents/guardians who completed the RiS program after a three-year period. Three key findings include: 1) Increased awareness—Parents report they are more aware of their behavior and that of others’ in relation to what is supportive and what is not. 2) Need for more integration— Study participants identify that real change will only come when the program is imbedded into the culture of the sport. Some wish to see the program made mandatory annually to increase cultural integration. 3) More accountability— Participants explain they believe the program is a step forward in improving respect and reducing maltreatment. The findings provide valuable insight in the development of mitigative strategies to address inappropriate parent behaviour. The findings may also be transferable to other sports and support education as a way to affect positive, albeit incremental change in sport culture. Keywords: Respect, Sport Culture, Parental Behaviour



nethical and potentially damaging or dangerous, conduct is a growing concern in all levels of sport. There is a desire to address it at its root cause. Many youth choose to participate in sporting activities for a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations including emulation of professional athletes. Emulation of professional or high level athletes can be positive but it can also creep into parental expectations of their child’s performance and subsequently those of coaches and officials associated with their child’s play. It is posited here that a root cause of inappropriate parental behaviors stems from “parental ambitions [which] sometimes exceed those of the children” (Evans 1993 as cited in Kidman, Mckenzie, and Mckenzie 1999, 2) influence participation in minor sports. In hockey this may be informally referred to as the ‘Gretzky Syndrome’ whereby parents believe their child will become the next Wayne Gretzky. The disconnect arising from unrealistically high parental expectations and the reality of “making it” to the professional league of play may result in a conflict laden situation involving players, parents, coaches, and officials. A recent report from ParticipACTION states “83% of Canadians believe community sport can instill character in youth by teaching those values and positive life lessons. However, 60% of Canadians see poor parental behavior as a threat to achieving this benefit” (True Sport 2014, 1). Sparse empirical data exists on the behaviour of hockey parents in particular. However, JefferyTosoni and Fraser-Thomas (2015) investigated the experiences of forty young hockey players over the course of a season and found that although the players reported their parents to be generally supportive they reported hearing negative and disturbing comments from the crowds. Literature suggests negative parent behavior affects the safety and enjoyment of those engaged (Hedstrom and Gould 2004). In an effort to reduce negative parent behaviors, Respect Group developed the Respect in Sport (RiS) program “to educate parents on creating realistic expectations of their children and help reduce the amount of maltreatment which commonly occurs in sporting activities” (Wayne McNeil email message, April 11, 2011). A goal of the RiS program is the Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education Volume 6, Issue 3, 2015, www.sportandsociety.com, ISSN 2381-7100 © Common Ground, Julie Booke, Joe Pavelka, All Rights Reserved Permissions: cg-support@commongroundpublishing.com


reduction of maltreatment. Hockey Calgary and Respect Group define maltreatment as: behaviors that are abusive, involve bullying or neglect (ibid.). Furthermore, inappropriate parental behaviour has been linked to the creation of a negative and stress-laden environment that discourages youth participation (Omli and LaVoi 2009). In this regard, negative parental behaviours can be conceptually linked to Leisure Constraint Theory and specifically inter-personal level constraints (Jackson, 2005). Leisure Constraints Theory is widely employed to understand and explain reasons why individuals do not participate in leisure. Interpersonal level constraints is one of three levels of constraint and it specifically involves constraints presented by an individual’s significant others. Though the focus of this research is not leisure constraints oriented, inappropriate parental behaviour in youth sport and inter-personal leisure constraints presents a logical conceptual link to be explored in greater detail. In September 2010, Hockey Calgary instituted the RiS parent program, requiring one parent/guardian of each player to complete the online program or their child(ren) would not be permitted to play. Perry Cavanagh (Past President Hockey Calgary) explained, “the objective of requiring one parent/guardian from each family to complete the RiS program is not to change the behaviors of the 2% of really bad parents, but rather to educate and empower the other 98%” (Perry Cavanagh, email message, April 11, 2011). Since its inception, the mandatory RiS program has spread across Canada. In an effort to understand the perceived impact of the RiS program, we conducted a long-term evaluation of the perceived effects of the RIS program, on parent behavior, among parents of minor hockey players in Calgary. Our research questions were: what is the perceived impact of the mandatory RiS program on parent behavior in minor hockey? And did the implementation of the RiS program change the culture of minor hockey?

Literature Review There are major concerns over the effects of parental behaviors at children’s sporting events. While “most parents who are involved… are interested in the redeeming benefits sports have to offer” (Wheeler 2008, 132), others exhibit poor behavior, often targeted at the children who play/compete. Negative parental behaviors have the effect of creating background anger, which impacts not only the children involved, but also the sport environment beyond the child, in question (Omli and LaVoi 2011). Ongoing negative behaviors can also influence whether a child remains involved in a sport or leaves early (Arthur-Banning et al., 2009). In 2000, Sports Illustrated published an article titled Out of Control (Nack and Munson, 2000) highlighting the growing problem of inappropriate and dangerous parental behavior at youth sports games. The article reported numerous incidents of parent-to-parent and parent-to-coach violence, but the article was precipitated by a particularly violent incident whereby a father beat his son’s hockey coach to death, at a rink, in a small town north of Boston. The Sports Illustrated article brought to light an issue well known to youth sport participants and parents throughout North America. Later, in 2005, a group of youth sport experts, associated with the US-based Citizenship Through Sports Alliance rated parental behavior and involvement in youth sports as unacceptable and in need of improvement. An early US-based study by Randall and Mackenzie (1987, 205) reported that, at soccer games, 12.5% of the time, parents engaged in verbal behavior of which 19.8% were positive in nature, and 5.8% were negative. A later study using a similar framework assessed 296 parents of netball, hockey, cricket, t-ball, and rugby, and reported a ratio of 4:3:2 of negative/neutral/positive, sideline comments by parents (Kidman, Mckenzie, and Mckenzie 1999, 6). Blom and Drane (2008) using the validated Parent Observation Instrument for Sports Events (POISE) carried out a similar study of sideline comments by parents in two Mississippi cities. While they acknowledge the debate of reliability related to what is categorized positive, neutral, and negative, they reported that, overall, 52% of parental sideline comments were positive while 32% of comments were



negative. Blom and Drane (2008) acknowledge a lack of systematic academic review of this topic, but evidence indicates that the issue of inappropriate parental behavior related to youth sports has increased. Common rhetoric among parents and coaches is that only 2% of parents are actually negative (Perry Cavanagh, email message April 11, 2011). While perception may be that 2% is small percentage of sport parents, and thus the issue is not important or prevalent, however, the impacts of those 2%, as discussed above, can be extreme, and far-reaching. Thus, there is a strong need for the RiS program and for information to evaluate its perceived effectiveness in creating a more favorable sport environment for minor hockey players.

Parental Influence Hedstrom and Gould (2004) present research and discuss of how parental involvement in youth sport can shape a child’s development, and impact critical elements including their motivation, competence and emotional responses. Positive parental involvement can improve a child’s interpretation of the experience as to whether winning is all-important or if one’s effort and competence is more important (Smoll, Cumming, and Smith 2011). In tennis, positive parental involvement has been reported by tennis coaches as providing financial support, logistical support and transportation, generally making sacrifices, and imparting hard work and positive attitudes (Gould et al. 2006). In the same study tennis coaches reported positive parental involvement as notably adding to the child’s enjoyment, performance and self-esteem. Parents further support their children by encouraging post-game debriefings to encourage the child to evaluate and interpret their own performance (Gano-Overway 2001). LaVoi and Babkes-Stellino (2008) claim that the greatest impact parents have on their children’s sport development is that they can positively influence their child’s beliefs about themselves and subsequent expectations about themselves. It is clear parents possess a unique ability to influence their child’s sport experience and parents generally influence children’s sport experience by the behaviors they model (Hedstrom and Gould 2004). Negative parental influence tends to minimize the possibility of the positive developmental benefits of sport. For example, Kidman, Mckenzie, and Mckenzie (1999) claim parental sideline coaching and comments can reduce athletes’ motor performance, inhibit learning as they try to follow competing instructions and impact self-worth. Too much emphasis on winning by parents (and coaches) can negate the educational benefits accrued to the athlete. Negative parental behaviours also have the effect of creating background anger which impacts the sport environment beyond the individual child in question (Omli and LaVoi 2009) and prolonged negative behaviours can also determine whether a child remains involved in a sport or leaves early (Arthur-Banning et al., 2009). Hedstrom and Gould (2004, 31) claim the most common problem behaviors from parents who over emphasize winning (goal focus versus an effort focus); and place unrealistic parental expectations placed on the child; those engage in sideline coaching; overly criticize the child’s performance and those who pamper their children. Smoll, Cumming, and Smith (2011) offer a similar list of problematic parent behaviors that includes being disinterested; overly critical; screaming from bench; acting as sideline coaches; and being overly protective. But they suggest that the most common problem between parents and coaches is a difference in opinion as to the child’s ability. It is not just the sport experience that parents can influence but the debriefing of the activity is argued to be as important if not more so. Elliot and Drummond (2015) examined the way parents of young footballers (soccer players) in Australia debriefed their child’s activity and found that the post weekend ‘assessing’ of the child’s activity generally resulted in a negative experience for the child. On the other hand many of those parents believed their post experience de-briefing to be a demonstration of involvement in their child’s sport. Their research found that three main categories of post-game reward or interaction parents had with their child athletes. They include presentation of rewards or awards from a small plaque to getting a dollar for each goal scored; second involved the use of junk food as a reward



and third was the post-game debrief that are characterized as a talk on the long drive home and generally involved a sandwich approach to debriefing (compliment—criticism—compliment) approach. Some authors have speculated the motive for parental involvement in sports may actually be the root of the problem. Kidman, Mckenzie, and Mckenzie (1999) explain that the amount of involvement a parent exhibits in their child’s sport activities may be due to their lack of participation in sport as a child; they may be trying to experience sport involvement through their children. Smoll, Cumming, and Smith (2011) suggest that parent-coach problems may arise from a reverse dependency phenomenon, whereby parents define their self-worth through the actions of their children. Coakly (2006) adds children’s sport achievements are clearly visible and even publicized within sport circles/neighborhoods which may lead parents to harbor a sense of obligation to invest in their child’s participation and perceived full potential which, if ignored, may represent a moral failure. It is not difficult to surmise how the reverse dependency phenomenon may result in sport stress for the child.

Leisure Constraints At a time when youth physical activity is encouraged at every level it is important to understand what may discourage sport participation in youth. The literature thus far is clear that parents have a substantive role both positive and negative, in the sport lives of their children. A good way to understand the role parents play is through the lens of Leisure Constraints Theory. The first cohesive model of leisure constraints emerged in 1991 in the form of the Hierarchical Model of Leisure Constraint developed by Crawford, Jackson, and Godbey (1991). The model includes three basic levels of leisure constraint: intra-personal, inter-personal and structural. Intra-personal constraints are internal the individual and related to one’s values. Inter-personal level constraints are based on the influence of others in the leisure decision-making process. Structural level constraints refer to aspects of the structure such as time, money and, opportunity that may constrain leisure activity. The Leisure Constraints model is best suited to understanding what aspect of the internal (personal traits and motivation) and external (physical, social and structural) environments are being negotiated and how (Jackson 2000). Leisure constraints can also be understood in their opposite form as facilitators. Raymore (2002), proposed the concept of leisure facilitators in contrast to leisure constraints. For example, she proposed intra-personal facilitators become individual traits and beliefs that promote the formation of leisure preferences and encourage participation. Inter-personal facilitators follow a similar, but social theme. Structural facilitators are proposed to be aspects of the environment that directly support leisure preferences and participation such as access, facilities, skill, awareness, lower cost, more time, etc. Parental influence as noted earlier in this section plays to both leisure constraints and facilitators. For instance, the way in which tennis parents support their children can be interpreted as leisure facilitators as per Raymore (2002) that is, overcoming cost and driving/transportation hurdles while the moral support is an example of an inter-personal facilitator. On the other hand, inappropriate parental behaviour resulting in an anger-laden environment is an example of an interpersonal leisure constraint whereby the behaviour of a significant other discourages further participation. The RiS program launched by Hockey Calgary recognizes the problem of inappropriate parental behavior and aims to educate parents to align their expectations of the child’s experience appropriately, to their child’s level of development and play. The program also encourages parents to think about their role in creating a safe environment for their children, the coaches, and the referees who arbitrate kids games (Blair 2010). The RiS program is the first of its kind in Canada (Maki 2012). Few similar programs do exist, for example the PLAYS (Parents Learning about Youth Sports) based in Minnesota (LaVoi, Omli, and Wiese-Bjornstal 2008) takes a similar



approach to teaching parents about how to create positive sport participation climates. However, there is little research evidence of the impact of these programs on parent behavior, from the perspective of those who are required to complete them. The youth sport climate, as reported in the literature, can have important impacts on children’s attitudes, behaviors, self-confidence and willingness to continue participating in sport. Thus, the aim of this research is to assess whether parents of young hockey players perceive the mandatory RiS education program as impactful on negative parent behaviors, encouraging the empowerment of those observing and being targeted by those negative behaviors, thereby contributing to a change in the culture of minor hockey.

Methods The Participants Hockey Calgary requires one parent or guardian from each family to complete the RiS program. After three years of the RiS program implementation over 20,000 Calgary parents/guardians have completed the RiS program. All those who completed the RiS program between 2010 and 2013, were invited to participate in this study; all told 6.8% or 1008 individuals participated in this study. Of these 1008 participants, 46% identified as mothers and 54% identified at fathers. A mixed methods, cross sectional design was used to complete this study. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were employed in an effort to gather a wide range of information. Quantitative research methods were used to gather generalizable data from all those who participated in the RiS program, while qualitative methods were used to gather more in-depth information on the parent experience, to obtain a deeper understanding of the perceived impact of the RiS program on parent behavior.

Questionaire/data collection tools and measurement development The study was developed in collaboration with a Hockey Calgary executive, the developers of the RiS program and academic faculty from a University. Discussions surrounding the objective of the RiS program, the reasons for implementation, and intended outcomes were undertaken. From these discussions, questions were developed and reviewed by academics in the field of Physical Education and Recreation Studies. Once satisfied the questions were shared with Hockey Calgary and Respect Group to further validate the intent of survey items. Selected individuals, within each organization, again examined the survey items to further content validity. Once questionnaire items were finalized and research ethics was obtained an email was sent via Hockey Calgary to all parents and/or guardians who completed the RiS education program and provided a link to the online survey. The survey included demographic questions and both closed and open-ended questions. The closed-ended questions were based on level of agreement on a five point Likert scale. The openended questions allowed survey participants the opportunity to comment and provide more information on their Likert scale responses.

Data Analysis All data was obtained and contained in digital files pulled directly from the online survey tool. The data was analyzed in two steps. Analysis of the quantitative data was conducted first. Quantitative data gathered from the online survey were analyzed and are presented using descriptive statistics. This provides the reader with a visual representation of how study participants rated their thoughts on the impact of the mandatory RiS program on various questions that focused on the goals and objectives of the RiS program. The statistics of the parent perceptions were then compared to the goals of the program, to assess whether they are being met. Qualitative data were then analyzed using thematic coding and constant comparative technique. The constant comparative method of 17


analysis involves reading and rereading of all verbatim responses provided by study participants (Marshall and Rossman 2011), searching for patterns, regularities and interesting information, and comparing each highlighted theme or regularity to the rest of the data (Marshall and Rossman, 2011). During this process, information was coded and notes kept (Merriam 2002). All data were read and reread by at least two researchers, to improve consistency and dependability. Once all data for each individual question was read and analyzed, meaningful data from each individual question was compared against the others (Charmaz 2005) in an effort to find overall key themes.

Results Three main themes were uncovered from this research. Each theme is supported by both the qualitative and quantitative findings and is described below. •

The first theme is awareness. Parents believe completing the online program made them more aware of their behavior: Parent #1: “I think it has raised the level of awareness of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior at the rink.” Parent #2: “It rarely was the person who needed it. But saying this, there is more awareness that maltreatment of coaches, players, officials is unacceptable.”

Taking the time to listen and complete the program teaches appropriate behavior and communication during and surrounding play, for example how to speak to children after an unsuccessful game, brought forth a better understanding of appropriate behaviors and further created the opportunity for parents to feel more confident to speak up if they observed inappropriate behaviors; Parent #3: “Has brought awareness of the issues to the forefront and many are more likely to speak up” Parent #4: “Parents are aware of how they are expected to act and other parents are willing to speak up to those not following those guidelines.” Figure 1 presents parent responses to the question of whether they would be more likely to speak up if they witnessed maltreatment than before completing the program. It is evident, even at this rudimentary level that parents are more likely to speak up about the subject, suggesting they have greater confidence to address the issue following completion of the program.



Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree disagree 0 10 20 30 40 50 Figure1: Since completing the RiS program I am more likely to speak up if I witness maltreatment. Figure 1 results show that approximately 46% of the sample agrees or strongly agrees that since completing the RiS program they are more likely to speak up in light of inappropriate parental behaviors while just under 15% believe otherwise. •

The second theme is integration, and refers to a need identified by parents for the program to be integrated into the sport’s culture. Study participants indicated support for the program, and see it as a necessity. They also identify ways in which they believe improvements to respectful behavior in sport can truly be achieved. The idea of better integration includes requiring all parents complete the program. Further, many respondents suggested the program be expanded to include grandparents, players, coaches, referees, or anyone that comes into the rink; Parent #5: “You need to make people do it again every year to remind them of the content. And my answers reflect that my son moved up to a different level where they are more competitive.” Parent #6: “Continuing to require this program be completed by parents, coaches and older players.” Parent #7: “Making it mandatory for both parents to take the program before the beginning of each season.”

However, there is a consensus among participating parents that it is a small number of parents who are very disruptive/disrespectful and are perceived as being very difficult to affect. But, the program is perceived as effective enough that parents believe this minority would benefit from taking the program, for example: Parent #8: “I think it needs to be taken by BOTH parents. Often the parent who is more hostile hasn’t taken the course.” Further supporting the need for better integration Parent #9 explains: Parent #9: “No parent is immune to emotion or always understands or demonstrates the right behaviors. Our children learn by how we behave, not always by what we say.”



Requiring all parents/guardians to complete the program is one step in better integrating the program, and may be a step to changing or reinforcing the learning. Further, that starting with parents of the youngest players would instill a better pattern of behavior and expectations among parents that may be more likely to persist throughout their children’s sport career. When asked how often the program should be required, the vast majority of study participants lean towards the need to complete the program, or some aspect of the program more than once. The following figure presents the findings from this question. It should never have been implemented 8% Once 22%

Every year 32%

Every three Every other year years 21% 17% Figure 2: How often do you feel the RiS program should be completed? Figure 2 results indicate that 32% of the sample would prefer to see the program annually; 22% would prefer to carry out the program only once; 21% prefer to do the RiS program every second year; 17% would prefer to complete the program every third year and 8% believe it should never have been implemented at all. •

The final theme is that the program is a step forward in improving respect and reducing maltreatment in minor hockey. However, also identified is the need for increased accountability from key stakeholders (coaches, referees, and administrators). The program will not be successful in meeting the objectives unless sanctions are enforced; Parent #10: “But only if the consequences are implemented,” “needs to be enforced” or “Enforce respect, make parents, coaches and players more accountable for their bad behaviors.”

In addition, parents need more safe opportunities to report maltreatment and know that their child or they would not be disadvantaged, for example one study participant explains: Parent #11: “If you speak up your kid will be BLACK LISTED and never play on AA or AAA or none of the other parents will talk to you as everyone seems to think their kid is going to the NHL and coaches have all the power.” One suggestion, which came forth in the data, was the idea of: Parent #12: “Getting more representatives to attend games and have the authority to deal with the issues that arise.” Parent #13: “It would be better to have ‘indoctrination’ as a mandatory requirement when registering. Having off-ice officials, visibly marked as off-ice



officials empowered to enforce and have public outcomes of incidents (sort of like what Shanahan does with Player Safety in NHL) to give a motivation to adjust behaviours.” Overall, this theme highlighted the need for “more teeth” to help change the culture of minor hockey. One final question worthy of discussion focused on the skills parents developed as a result of completing the RiS program. Survey participants were asked about their ability to create realistic expectations for their children. The research literature and mainstream media put forth the notion that parents behave negatively towards their children, referees and coaches because they believe their child is bound for the NHL or they are living their dream through their children. It was of interest to see if the RiS program could provide knowledge, skills or just reminders on how to treat children appropriately, especially since minor hockey should be fun.

Strongly disagree Disagree Neither agree nor disagree Agree Strongly agree 0%


10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45%

Figure 3: After completing the Respect in Sport program I feel I am better able to create realistic expectations for my child(rens) experience as a hockey player including ice time, skill development and role on the team.

Figure 3 indicates that approximately 47% of the sample believes they are better able to convey positive and realistic expectations to their children while 20% believe this not to be the case. The three main themes uncovered in the data focused on the positive changes and potential changes implementing the RiS program has had on parent behavior and the culture of minor hockey. While the majority of comments were positive it would be unfair to disregard the negative comments. The negative comments associated with the implementation of the program, primarily focused on program delivery method (online) for example: Parent #14: “I applaud the intention. However, an on-line means to communicate the message is of questionable value. Without a visible means of enforcement and implementation (policing in other words), this program is a waste of money.” Parent #15: “The current internet format is useless. I took it twice while cleaning my house and still got the answers correct. The wrong people take this course and the bad parents are not the ones taking it.” Other negative comments focused on the fact that the information is commonsense and that the parent that really needs the program may not be the one taking it:



Parent #16: “I think that it should be a requirement for those parent/guardians who are not respectful of the process. I know it would be difficult to implement but with families faced with potentially having to pay for this course in addition to increasing hockey fees, it seems as though the non-offenders are being punished for the few who do.” Overall, the qualitative responses, which are further supported by the quantitative responses, show parents to be utilizing the information, an interest in continuing to include and even increase the focus on respect and the need for more program incorporation to move the respect issue further.

Discussion This study provides important information to current sport programs that require parents to complete a RiS or similar program, or to those sports/programs thinking about including a focus on respect. Current mainstream media reports, for example, Macleans magazine in Canada, . included a general interest article titled “How parents (and their lawyers) are killing minor hockey” (2014) and informal discussions with key stakeholders, including administrators, referees, and parents identify a need to improve behaviors at sporting events and the findings from this study show that the RiS program is a step in the right direction. While not perfect, the RiS program provides parents with basic skills and knowledge that can be used to monitor their own behavior, as well as to recognize and acknowledge the appropriate and inappropriate behaviors of others. Furthermore, the RiS program provides a foundation on which individuals can rely and feel more comfortable reporting negative behavior. For example: Parent #17: “it (the program) gives us permission to be brave and ask someone to be quiet. Other parents might support us.” In addition, further implementation of the program might ensure that more people are aware of how to report negative behavior. This idea was supported by 56% of study participants who said they are now more aware of where to report negative behaviors. When asked if the RiS program should be included in other sports 78% state that it should be mandatory in all sports, as long as it is transferable and parents are not required to complete the same program over and over for each sport that their child(ren) are involved in.

Conclusion This study looked at the perceived impact of a mandatory respect program on parent behavior in minor hockey, specifically in a large Canadian city. The online program was made mandatory in Calgary, Canada in 2010 and since then over 20,000 individuals within Calgary minor hockey has completed the program. As well, the inclusion of the RiS program has spread across Canada (e.g. provinces of Manitoba, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island) and across many other sports (Garth Stonier, email message, October 21, 2014). The purpose of this study was to examine if requiring parents to complete a mandatory program would impact both the way parents behave and the culture of minor hockey. The findings revealed that the RiS program is a step in the right direction, but more work and focus on respect is in order to truly change the culture. Many survey respondents identified that while they may be more likely to speak up if witnessing maltreatment, or may be more conscientious of their behavior there is a need to continue focusing on respect, continuing to require the RiS program, including “refreshers” throughout the hockey season. The findings from this study were shared with Hockey Calgary and The Respect Group Inc. who have used the information in various ways. Hockey Calgary is currently examining ways to encourage more than one parent to complete the program, informing



parents that the RiS online program is a tool in which they can return again and again to refresh their knowledge, seek information, etc. Hockey Calgary is also looking at ways to focus and reward positive behavior, rather than just punishing the negative, and creating safe opportunities to report maltreatment. The limitations in this study included participant response rate, and the inability to gather pre/post data. As stated above, over 1000 individuals participated in this study. While the number in itself is quite large, it is only 6.8% of the potential population. However, general survey response rates are typically low, and the sample itself is still large enough to have good confidence. The idea of this study was developed upon hearing a radio ad requesting/reminding parents to complete the RiS program, thus after the implementation of the data. Furthermore, Hockey Calgary did not have past incident reports that could have been reviewed using document analysis methods. Due to this limitation, study participants were asked about their perception on the impact of the RiS program on parent behavior and the culture of hockey. The paper also highlights the conceptual link between parental behaviour and leisure constraints and provides another portal to examine the critical issue of youth participation in sport and what elements facilitate and detract from continued youth participation. Currently, two future research projects are being developed. The first study is looking to examine the impact a player program would have on respect within the game. The study design will include both focus group discussions prior to the implementation of a player focused program and post implementation. The second study will examine the implementation of the RiS program from the perspective of minor hockey association leadership team. Completing these two studies in conjunction with this current study will provide information from all key stakeholders within the minor hockey system. In conclusion, the goal of the RiS program is to empower positive parents, create a foundation of knowledge on respectful behavior and remind us all that participation and focus in minor sport (in this case, specifically minor hockey) should be fun.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS Julie Booke: Associate Professor, Department of Health and Physical Education, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada Joe Pavelka: Associate Professor, Department of Health and Physical Education Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada


The Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education is one of the four thematically focused journals that support the Sport and Society knowledge community—its journal collection, book series, and online community. The Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education focuses on learning about and through sport. It publishes articles examining how sports programs in schools and communities promote learning, tolerance, social cohesion, and community development. The Journal of Sports Pedagogy and Physical Education is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal.

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Respect in sport parent program journal of sports pedagogy and physical education 2015 (1)  

Respect in sport parent program journal of sports pedagogy and physical education 2015 (1)  


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