Practical and Critical Legal Concerns for Sport Physicians and Athletic Trainers

Abstract

In order to help sport physicians and athletic trainers understand the
legal principles that may be applicable to injury treatment, the writers
examined the areas of liability that physicians and trainers may face
in their delivery of care. Major topics which were covered by this article
included: (1) informed consent and participation risks, (2) physician-patient
relationship, (3) immunity issues, and (4) risk management. In conclusion,
seven protective strategies were recommended for sport physicians and
athletic trainers to insure acceptable service standards. They were: (a)
maintaining a good physician-client relationship with athletes; (b) obtaining
informed consent and insist on a written contract; (c) educating the athletes,
parents and coaches concerning issues of drug abuse, assumption of risks,
confidentiality; (d) performing physical examinations carefully, and be
cautious on issuing medical clearance; (e) formulating a risk management
plan and properly document hazards and records; (f) participating in continuing
education and recognize your qualifications; and (g) maintaining insurance
coverage.

Introduction

The special legal duties and liabilities team physicians have are rapidly
developing areas of law (Collum, 2001). Since 1990, there has been a significant
increase in sports medicine related litigation (Gallup, 1995). The increasing
economic benefits of playing sports, such as college scholarships or multi-million
dollar professional contracts, have inspired injured athletes to seek
compensation for injuries resulting from negligent medical care (Herbert,
1991). As a result, today, many sport physicians and athletic trainers
recognize they need a general understanding of certain legal principles
in order to further protect themselves and their institutions from litigation
(Gieck, Lowe, & Kenna, 1984). Sport physicians and athletic trainers
must become familiar with the acts and policies that regulate the profession.
Physicians and trainers must realize that acquiring the basic knowledge
of legal principles can help improve their professional practice. In order
to help sport physicians and athletic trainers understand the legal principles
that may be applicable to injury treatments and prevention, the writers
examines several areas of liability physicians and trainers may face.
These areas include: (a) informed consent and participation risks, (b)
the physician-patient relationship, (c) immunity issues, and (d) risk
management.

Informed Consent and Participation Risks

A widely recognized legal principle is that the team physician must have
an athlete’s informed consent before providing any medical treatment
(Gallup, 1995; Ray, 2000; Mitten, 2002). Informed consent is a legal doctrine
that requires a sport physician to obtain consent for rendering treatment,
performing an operation, or using many diagnostic procedures after their
clients being furnished with all the known relevant facts (Gallup, 1995;
Briggs, 2001). This requirement is based on the principle of individual
autonomy, meaning a competent adult has the legal right to decide what
to do with his body (Heinemann, 1997).

Consent forms are especially important in the high school setting because
most of these injured student- athletes are minors. No lawsuit has been
successfully tried based on a lack of parental consent, where the treatment
of the minor was non-negligent (Gallup, 1995; Ray, 2000). Recently, many
courts have begun to follow the mature minor rule allowing the young person
(an age of 14-16) to validly consent to the physicians’ treatment
(Holder, 1978). Consent may be implied under the circumstances, such as
when an athlete has been rendered unconscious during play and needs emergency
medical treatment (Mitten, 2002; Hecht, 2002). In these cases, the law
generally assumes that if the injured athlete had been aware of his/her
condition and was mentally competent, then he/she would consent to the
treatment. Based on several experts’ comments (Rosoff, 1991; Gallup,
1995; Briggs, 2001; Mitten, 2002; Sports Medicine Digest, 2002), the authors
have summarized the key points in the consent, which should be disclosed
to athletes:

  1. Physicians and trainers must adhere to customary or accepted sports
    medicine practice in diagnosing athletes’ injuries.
  2. An athlete must understand the kind of treatment to which he is consenting.
  3. A physician must disclose relevant information since his/her failure
    to do so may subject him/her to liability for fraudulent concealment.
  4. Physicians and trainers should propose possible alternative treatments.
  5. Keep in mind that the clients have the “right of refusal.”
  6. Physicians and trainers should explain the cost of the proposed treatment.

It is difficult to judge how far a sport physician should go in determining
whether an athlete actually understand what he/she has consented to or
not. In the 1987 California case of Krueger v. San Francisco 49ers, the
49ers were found guilty of fraudulent concealment, because the team physicians
failed to inform Krueger about the full extent of his injuries, the potential
consequences of the anesthetic steroid injections, and the long-term implications
of playing professional football with a badly damaged knee. If a physician
wishes to avoid the liability of negligence or fraud, he/she must show
that approving athletic participation is not medically unreasonable and
the athlete actually understands the risks.

“Assumption of risk” is a legal defense that attempts to
claim that an injured plaintiff understood the risk of an activity and
freely chose to undertake the activity regardless of the hazards associated
with it (Ray, 2000). It is one of the most common defenses that educational
institutions, athletic trainers and sport physicians may employ to avoid
legal liability. Two conditions must be met in order to establish the
defense of “assumption of risk” (Scott, 1990). (a) The athlete
must fully appreciate and understand the type and magnitude of the risk
involved in participation. (b) The athlete must also “knowingly,
voluntarily, and unequivocally” choose to participate. In interscholastic
sport settings, school districts often use a consent form to prove an
implied assumption of risk. In some cases, courts also have found that
consent forms prove the minor and parents did understand the risks inherent
in the sport and agree to assume them (Vendrell v. School District No
26c Malheur County).

Today, athletes and their parents frequently challenge the return-to-play
decision of the sport physicians and demand their right to participate
(Ray, 2000). In this case, one approach sport physicians or athletic trainers
may take is to request athletes (and their parents in the case of minors)
to sign exculpatory waivers. An “exculpatory waiver” or “risk
release” is a contract signed by a participant, which relieves the
school, university, or team physician from any liability to the individual
who executes the release (Gallup, 1995). It acts as an “express
assumption of risk” indicating that the participant fully understands
and voluntarily chooses to encounter the risk. The participant further
agrees in advance not to hold the defendant liable for the consequences
of conduct that would ordinarily amount to negligence (Keeton, Dobbs,
Keeton, & Owen, 1987). Some courts uphold releases of liability from
future negligence, but not culpable conduct such as intentional, reckless,
or grossly negligent torts (Keeton et al, 1987; Cotten, 2001; Mitten,
2002). However, courts have also invalidated contracts releasing physicians
from liability for negligent medical care of their patient, because such
contracts violates public policy (Tunkl v. Regents of University of California,
1963; Ray, 2000). In general, a waiver signed by the minor alone will
not be enforced (Cotten, 2001). Even if an exculpatory waiver is established,
the court may evaluate its validity individually.

In general, if an injured athlete is found to be contributory negligent,
he/she may not be able to successfully sue a team physician or an athletic
trainer (Hebert, 2002; Gallup, 1995). In the past, plaintiffs might lose
the case due to their contributory negligence, because the court’s
decision was determined on an “all or nothing” basis (Hoffman
v. Jones, 1973). However, this type of ruling is not a dominant trend
anymore. In Perez v. McConkey, a plaintiff’s contributory negligence
no longer was a “complete bar to recovery”; rather, it was
to be considered in “apportioning damages only” (Wanat, 2001).
Today, the courts often use the doctrine of comparative negligence to
determine if the liability should be divided between the plaintiff and
the defendant(s) (Ray, 2000; Gallup, 1995). In most states, plaintiffs
can collect damages only if their comparative culpability is less than
50% (Ray, 2000). Physicians and trainers may compensate their patients
in proportion to their fault.

Physician-patient Relationship

When a university or a professional sports team hires the team physicians,
a duty is created not only between the physicians and the athletes, but
also to the hiring entity. Although the well-being of athletes should
be the most important concern of physicians and trainers who render medical
service, it is not always easy for physicians and trainers to make their
decisions based on this principle due to the intense pressure from the
coaches, management, the press, and even the motivated athletes themselves.
In general, if physicians who are hired by professional teams act in a
negligent manner and cause their patients (athletes) to lose a contract,
scholarship, or future earnings, they may ultimately be found liable for
those damages (Gallup, 1995). Under the doctrine of “vicarious liability”,
a university or professional team may also be liable for the actions of
the team physician who it hired (Berry & Wong, 1986). However, if
the physician is an independent contractor, the entity may not be held
liable for the physician’s negligence (Cramer v. Hoffman, 1968).
The key factor to determine whether the physician is an independent contractor
or not is relying on the amount of control the hiring entity exercises
over the independent judgment of physician (Berry & Wong, 1986).

The issue of confidentiality is often a complicated problem in professional
and collegiate sports. Releasing an athlete’s medical condition
to third parties (i.e., media) violates a physician’s ethical obligation
to maintain confidentiality (Mitten, 2002). However, it may seem appropriate
for physicians or trainers to discuss athletes’ condition with the
management of collegiate or professional teams, because they have the
access to athletes’ medical records anyway (Berry & Wong, 1986).
Collegiate and professional physicians and trainers must remember that
they owe athletes confidentiality, and should be careful about releasing
information to the press. In Chuy v. Philadelphia Eagles Football Club
(1979), the defendant, Chuy, sought the compensation from the Philadelphia
Eagles because the team physician released his medical condition to the
press without his consent. Based on the impact of this case, it is ideal
for the physician to obtain the athlete’s permission (a publicity
waiver form) before disclosing any medical information to team officials
or press. An essential act that physicians must apply is informing the
athletes that they are acting on behalf of the team (Mitten, 2002). Readers
may refer to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act from
official website of the Department of United States Health and Human Services
(2003) for more information concerning standards for protecting the privacy
of personal health information.

Immunity Issues

In some instances, physicians may be immune from legal liability for
malpractice claims brought by athletes (Mitten, 1995). Several states
have enacted legal statutes immunizing volunteer sport physicians from
negligence liability for rendering emergency medical care to athletes
(Mitten, 2002). In addition, some states have expended their Good Samaritan
laws to specify immunity for those who provide medical services at athletic
events (Gallup, 1995; Todaro, 1986). However, statutory immunity only
covered physicians or trainers who provide emergency care to an athlete
with an apparent life-threatening condition in good faith, not with wanton
emergency treatment or gross negligence (Todaro, 1986).

As shown in the case of Sorey v. Kellett (1988), it was found that sport
physicians employed by public universities might be protected by state
law immunity. Furthermore, state workers’ compensation laws may
also bar claims of professional athletes against team physicians for negligent
medical care (Mitten, 2002; Gallup, 1995). Other than the Good Samaritan
laws, the workers’ compensation laws are other legal statues that
preclude professional athletes suing team physicians or trainers for negligence.
In Hendy v. Losse (1991), the court interpreted that workers’ compensation
law bar tort suits between co-employees for injuries caused within the
scope of employment. One must keeps in mind that workers’ compensation
laws are not uniform, and may vary from state to state (Gallup, 1995).

Risk management

Risk management is the key for preventing lawsuits in sports medicine.
As sport physicians and athletic trainers have involved more managerial
responsibilities along with their clinical duties, the broader construct
of risk management became more important. Risk management is a process
intended to prevent financial, physical, property, and time loss for an
organization (Culp, Goemaere, & Miller, 1985; Ray, 2000; Streator
& Buckley, 2001). According to Gallup (1995), a well-designed risk
management program should cover four essential elements; compassion, communication,
competence and charting. Sports physicians and athletic trainers must
demonstrate a deep concern for athletes and build a good rapport with
athletes. Maintaining clinical competence and keeping accurate medical
records are other important means to avoid liability for malpractice.
In fact, studies show that 70% of the medical litigations are due to poor
communication and attitude problems presented by physicians or trainers
(Gallup, 1995).

To apply appropriate techniques and management principles for reducing
the likelihood of risk, the Department of Sport and Recreation of Australia
(2003) provided some guidelines for handling the potential risks. Those
guidelines included: (a) establishing the context of a risk management
program (objectives, resources, and assessment criteria, etc.), (b) risk
identification, (c) risk assessment, (d) treatment and control, and (e)
monitoring and review. While applying the above principles in the sport
medicine field, Rankin and Ingersoll’s (1995) recommendation can
further help to control risk. In terms of risk identification and assessment,
physicians and trainers can administer pre-participation physical exams,
monitor fitness levels, assess activity areas, monitor environmental conditions,
maintain equipment, use proper instructional techniques, and provide adequate
work-rest intervals. Advice for treatment and control include: (a) have
a physician supervise all medical aspects of the program; (b) evaluate
and treat injuries correctly and promptly; and (c) supervise student athletic
trainers or intern physicians.

Effective documentation is vital for sport physicians and athletic trainers
because 35% to 40% of all medical malpractice suits are rendered indefensible
by problems with the medical record (Michigan Medicine, 1983). Sport physicians
should record their activities for the following reasons (Ray, 2000; Briggs,
2001; Streator & Buckley, 2001): (a) personal use; especially for
personal protection in the event of litigation; (b) legal, ethical and
professional requirements; (c) statistical records; (d) educational, research
and insurance purposes; (e) information for further planning, treatment,
rehabilitation and training; (f) aids for assisting other practitioners
taking over/involved in treatment (i.e. a multidisciplinary approach);
and (g) information for techniques and standards involved in treatment/rehabilitation.

In general, sport physicians and athletic trainers should file two types
of records properly, medical records and program administration records
(Ray, 2000). Medical records are cumulative documentation of a patient’s
medical history and health care interventions. The administration records
may include physical examination forms, injury evaluation and treatment
forms, reports of special procedures, emergency information, permission
for medical treatment forms, release of medical information, insurance
information and communication from other professionals (Ray, 2000; Streator
& Buckley, 2001).

Conclusion

The authors examined the variety, complexity, and importance of legal
issues, which sport physicians and athletic trainers may encounter. Many
of the legal outcomes are strongly influenced by advances in medicine,
medical evidence, and reviews of legal precedents (Gallup, 1995; Opie,
2002). The authors attempted to synthesize opinions of experts and information
derived from some lawsuits to propose practical guidelines for the physicians
and trainers. As Ray (2000) mentioned, the best legal defense against
malpractice lawsuits is still to provide high-quality medical services
consistent with the standard of care. The concepts and suggestions, which
were illustrated in this article, might not be interpreted as absolute
legal principles; rather, they should be treated as aids to help physicians
and trainers prevent negligence lawsuits. The following protective strategies
were suggested to insure the acceptable service standard (Graham, 1985;
Ray, 2000; Gallup; Opie, 2002; Mitten, 2002).

  1. Maintain a good physician-client relationship with athletes.
  2. Obtain informed consent and insist on a written contract.
  3. Educate the athletes, parents and coaches concerning issues of drug
    abuse, assumption of risks, confidentiality.
  4. Perform physical examinations carefully, and be cautious on issuing
    medical clearances.
  5. Formulate a risk management plan and properly document hazards and
    records.
  6. Participate in continuing education and recognize your qualifications.
  7. Maintain insurance coverage.

References

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2016-10-12T14:43:37+00:00March 4th, 2004|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Coaching, Sports Exercise Science, Sports Facilities, Sports Management, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on Practical and Critical Legal Concerns for Sport Physicians and Athletic Trainers

Sports Development in Botswana, Africa

Abstract

The Botswana flag has never been raised nor has its national anthem been
heard at the medal ceremonies of any major international sports competition.
The aim of this paper is to critically analyze problems of sports development
in developing countries, taking Botswana, Africa as an example. This paper
is based on material collected from a number of documents on sport in
developing countries, newspapers and material from the Internet. E-mail
correspondence was exchanged with a number of officials employed by the
key providers of sports development in Botswana. An interview was conducted
with a Botswana international athlete who was resident in the United Kingdom.
The results of the research showed that Botswana has made great strides
in the administration and organization of sport since independence, but
the economic advances that have been made are being threatened by the
HIV/AIDS pandemic that has become the most devastating emergency in the
nation’s history.

Introduction

The republic of Botswana is situated in Southern Africa; it extends for
1100 kilometers from north to south and 960 kilometers from east to west,
and is the same size as France or Kenya, or slightly smaller than the
state of Texas in the United States (US). It is landlocked being bordered
by South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Republic of Botswana, 2003;
Corlett & Mokgwathi, 1989; Mokgwathi, 1999). Despite its size, the
population of Botswana is only 1.47 million in 2004, 79.8 per cent of
whom claim Tswana heritage (a Bantu group). It has one of the highest
birth rates in the world, as the average Botswana woman will have five
children.

Since independence in 1966, the national life expectancy increased from
49 to 69 years, but by 2004 it has been reduced by 25 years to 44 years.
Alarmingly, more recent research projected that the life expectancy could
fall as low as 29 years if the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus was not slowed
or reversed. In 2001 there were 330,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, which
is 38.8 per cent of the population. The virus is also expected to halve
the population growth by 2006. This will have an enormous economic and
social impact especially as the HIV/AIDS rate among certain groups of
the working population is approximately 25 per cent (Political Profile,
2004). Botswana has the world’s highest incidence of HIV/AIDS; 85
people per day become infected with HIV and will develop AIDS, and die
within a decade without affordable treatment. One-half of the natural
deaths are linked to the disease, and 1 in 8 children are infected with
the virus at birth (McIntyre, 2003).

The relatively small population, and the concentration of the population
into the southeast corner is due to the harsh physical and climatic terrain
of Botswana. Most of the country lies at an average elevation of 1000
meters, and covering 85 per cent of Botswana is the Kalahari Desert; in
the northwest is the Okavango Delta, and in the northeast is the clay
desert of the Makgadikgadi Pans. Such features and the limited number
of urban communities make communication and travel difficult, thus presenting
logistical difficulties with travel over long distances in order to participate
in sport. Softball, for example, is very popular, but there are a limited
number of softball teams in Botswana. Due to problems with traveling vast
distances in the country, play is geographically divided between north
and south to minimize costs, and a national tournament is held annually,
at the National Softball Diamond Stadium in Gaborone.

Economy. Botswana has one of the world’s highest rates
of economic growth estimated to be between 11-13 per cent annually (Botswana:
Africa’s Freest Economy, 2004; Toriola, 2001). In 1998, the per
capita gross national product in Botswana was US $3070, which is high
by African standards. The wealth of the country may be important as research
by Nevill & Stead (2002) indicated a 0.71 correlation between the
GNP of the country measured in US$ and success in the Olympic Games in
Sydney, Australia. So Botswana, with a high GNP by African standards,
is in a better position to succeed in international sport than many other
African countries.

Through fiscal discipline and sound management, Botswana has transformed
itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income
country. The performance of the economy has enabled the government to
increase resources for education, health, food, housing, and social welfare
programs including sport.

Success in international sport. It is still the case that “The
Botswana flag has never been raised nor has its national anthem ever been
heard at the medal ceremonies of any major international competition”
(Corlett & Mokgwathi, 1989, p. 223), although according to Mokgwathi
(1999, p. 136) “the BNSC has a vision which includes Botswana at
the medal awards ceremonies of world class competitions.” Botswana
did not win any medals at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia,
and only won 3 medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England.
Botswana was more successful at the All-Africa Games in Abuja, Nigeria
in 2003 when they won 6 medals. A Commonwealth Games medallist from Botswana
informed me:

“As a nation, our view for sport has mainly been for fun and enjoyment…
we had not taken it to demonstrate or put our mark…but things
have moved on and its just a matter of time, let me assure you that
a medal is coming within 2 years…even at the Olympics this year.”

Concluding evaluation. Botswana’s elevation to a middle-income
country reflects its record of political and social stability, economic
growth, and prudent economic management. (Botswana Economy: Facts and
Figures, 2004; The World Bank Factbook: Botswana, 2004). I was told that:

“The party that is in power now has been in power since independence
and it seems that Botswanans are happy with the way Mogae (the President)
runs the economy and the way he runs the country. We are fortunate and
I salute all those guys working around the clock in shaping Botswana
to be who she is today.”

The high rate of unemployment that officially is 21 per cent, although
unofficial estimates are closer to 41 per cent in 2001, and the HIV/AIDS
pandemic threaten Botswana’s economic gains (McIntyre, 2003).

Further, Botswana suffers from a widely scattered population, as there
are vast distances between centers of population, although most of the
urban population lives in the southeast corner of the country. The GNP
is high by African standards, and its population remains small. But as
in many African countries there is migration from rural to urban areas
that have resulted in the creation of shantytowns, homelessness, unemployment
and crime.

Despite these problems, Botswana has achieved sustainable economic growth;
it is a peaceful democratic country despite being surrounded by countries
in which there is economic and political turbulence. Botswana is a positive
role model for other African countries, south of the Sahara, and it is
in this context that the role of sport in Botswana will be examined.

Theoretical framework. All of the countries in Africa including
Botswana, with the interesting exception of South Africa, may be described
as developing countries. For Giddens (2001) the distinguishing features
of developing countries is that their political systems are modeled on
systems established in societies in the West; most of the populations
live in rural areas, but there is a rapid growth in the cities; agriculture
export remains the main economic activity; western industrialism has undermined
more traditional systems; and, they form distinct political communities
or nation-states. The concept of development is addressed by reference
to statistical data of the demographic conditions of the population, the
quality of public communications, the achieved technological standards,
life expectancy, the nutritional situation of the inhabitants, and the
distribution of wealth. More specifically in relation to sport, Coghlan
(1992, p. 1) defines developing countries as, “a range of sovereign
states that are to a greater or lesser extent in a process of social change
needing co-operation and assistance from those that are better placed.”
A distinction is thus made between developed and developing countries.
This definition of developing countries implies that there are many similarities
in the socio-economic and political composition of such countries, but
they also all differ in their traditions and histories, and in their stages
of development. Coghlan’s (1992) definition of developing countries
is used as a template for the purpose of this examination of sport in
Botswana.

The Problems of Sports Development

Sports organizations. In his detailed analysis of the patterns
of government involvement in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United
Kingdom, Houlihan (1997) maintains that in order to understand the development
of sport and sporting issues in different countries, it is necessary to
have an “appreciation of the development and organization of sport
and the dominant pattern of policy-making” (p. 22). Hence, in order
to understand the problems of sports development in Botswana, the key
sports providers will be examined.

In Botswana, the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs (MLHA) (Corlett
& Mokgwathi, 1989; Mokgwathi, 1999; Toriola, 2001) govern sports administration.
Within the Ministry is the Department of Sport and Recreation (DSR) which
serves as the “legislative arm of government which co-ordinates
and provides overall leadership for sport development in Botswana”
(Toriola, 2001, p. 10). I was informed that:

“The objective of the Department of Sport and Recreation is to
create an environment in which all Botswana, whether rural or urban,
disabled or not, can participate in sports either for fun, health, fitness
or recreation. This would mean that those who have potential to excel
would be provided with the facilities and environment to reach their
full potential. It would also mean promoting active living behaviors
through sports and recreational programs.”

The Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) deals directly with the various
sports associations delivering competitive sport in the country, and therefore
serves as an intermediary between the government and the national sports
associations (Mokgwathi, 1999; Toriola, 2001). The BNSC comprises representatives
of all of the sports organizations in Botswana, and according to Corlett
& Mokgwathi (1989) “it has substantial power” (p. 218)
mainly because the chairperson of the BNSC is appointed directly by the
MLHA (Mokgwathi, 1999). An athlete informed me that, “The BNSC
reports to the Government through the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs
(MLHA), and its overall responsibility is policy formulation for sports
development.” The BNSC allocates funds to sports organizations,
but evidently this process has not always taken place in an equitable
fashion, as the BNSC fails to represent the interests of all of its members.
The BNSC reports to the DSR, which due to its weak position in the MLHA,
is unable to offer significant financial assistance, and other resources
to implement major capital projects and policies planned by the BNSC (Corlett
& Mokgwathi, 1989). For example, the Botswana Softball Association
team had to raise significant funds independently to compete in the World
Championships in Michigan in the US in 2004, thus indicating a scarcity
of funds for representative international sports teams.

The National Softball League is, in fact, one of the few national leagues
to be sponsored as Shell Oil Botswana has sponsored the league for the
past eight years. However, this sponsorship is not without conflicts,
as at the 2003 Shell softball prize giving in Gaborone, conflicts arose
between the players and sponsors as not all of the players conformed to
the request to wear clothing supplied by the sponsors. For Marumo Morule,
the President of the Botswana Softball Association (BSA), this indicated
a lack of professionalism by the players. He said that the “sports
codes must do what the sponsors want,” thus raising issues in relation
to the organization of sport, the governing bodies of sport and the demands
of the sponsors (Teams ‘soil’ Shell Oil Ceremony, 2003).

The BNSC is funded by an annual grant from government through the MLHA
which is distributed to operate various national sports associations affiliated
to BNSC based on their sport development needs (Toriola, 2001). As with
all such organizations, both in the developed and developing world, government
funding is deemed to be inadequate despite an increase in the annual grant
between 1985-98 in order to meet the demands of sports development programs.
Much of the money is used by the national sports associations to meet
international sports engagements, but the lack of qualified coaches, good
facilities and funding has resulted in athletes being poorly prepared
for international sports events such as the Olympic and Commonwealth Games
(Toriola, 2001).

There is indeed increasing evidence that the government is taking a more
active role in the development of sport and recreation in Botswana by
increasing to P22 million ($5 million) the annual grant to the BNSC, and
providing moral support to its athletes. When asked if the government
is involved in sports development, a Botswana athlete informed me, “There
is a Department of Sports and Recreation and if I recall well, there was
a total of five stadiums to be completed around the country last year.
The Vice President of Botswana was in Manchester cheering for me…
yes the government is deeply involved.”

The Assistant Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Major Gene Pheto said
that the increase in the grant and “the construction of sport facilities
in various villages throughout the country is testimony of government
commitment to sport” (Government Committed to Sport-Pheto, 2003).
He further stated that the money would be used by the BNSC to fund the
31 sports under their jurisdiction, and to ensure that the national team
participates in international competitions. In order to improve performances,
the BNSC has also introduced cash incentives to national athletes and
teams. But Toriola (2001) still feels that sports development is hindered
by poor sport structures and inadequate facilities that are typical problems
in a developing country such as Botswana.

There is more recent evidence of the BNSC becoming increasingly involved
with the promotion of sport at a local level. For example, Tebro Onkabetse,
a member of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) speaking to the Bobirwa
Sports Festival in Mmadinare, noted how the BNSC was helping to organize
district sports festivals. He also noted that the government was committed
to providing a conducive environment for the development of sport and
recreation, and that there had been acceleration in the provision of integrated
sports facilities throughout the country.

Aid from the international community. Botswana competed as an
independent country for the first time in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.
Despite a demand by the US for all African countries to boycott the Games
due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, Botswana felt
obligated to participate. This was mainly due to the close association
Botswana had with the Soviet Union who provided technical assistance in
sports development since independence.

There has been significant Soviet influence on the structure and organization
of sport in Africa. This influence expanded in the 1980s and took many
forms. By 1982 over 200 Soviet sports specialists worked in more than
30 African countries. They provided material aid, sports equipment, and
literature, organized sports exhibitions, and constructed sports facilities.
Athletes were encouraged to participate in joint training sessions with
Soviets. In 1981, there were 49 sports specialists from 32 developing
countries studying in the Moscow State Higher Institute of Physical Education.
As part of the Soviet propaganda effort to foster goodwill towards the
USSR, and develop positive attitudes toward the Soviet state and its policy,
statements expressing support for the USSR were also made (Chappell &
Seifu, 2000). Ironically, the US has also been involved in the development
of sport in Botswana. In 1981 Mal Whitfield an American Olympic gold medallist
visited Botswana and recommended a framework for sports development, and
his recommendations were a major factor in determining future policies
and decisions in the country (Toriola, 2001).

Botswana still has a close association with the USSR’s former ally,
Cuba who provides coaches to train Botswana sportsmen and women in athletics
(track & field), boxing and volleyball (Toriola, 2001). An athlete
informed me,

“I think they started working in Botswana around 1996 if I recall
well…and they work on a contract basis…. say two or more
years depending on how they are doing. The current one in athletics
has been there since 1998 and is doing a great job and will do much
more if he is allowed to do his job properly!”

Khumiso Ikopoling, a boxer from Botswana trains in Cuba under this scheme
of co-operation as he maintains that “Cuba has good boxers and good
training equipment compared with Botswana” (Boxers Promise Fireworks,
2004).

As in many other developing countries, the BNOC is a recipient of funds
from Olympic Solidarity, and this is used in order to fund sports development
schemes and coaching courses. With the support of these funds, an international
volleyball course was organized by the Botswana Volleyball Federation
(BVF) sponsored by the BNSC in conjunction with the BNOC between 27th
December 2003 and 10th January 2004, and was staffed by a coach
from Egypt (Roberts tops Olympic Solidarity Coaches Course, 2004).

Funding sports organizations. The development of sport in Africa
has been plagued by a number of problems. In the first place, extreme
poverty is the most serious obstacle to the development of sport, as funds
are needed to alleviate more immediate social problems. In soccer, the
Fėdėration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) offers
financial assistance to promote the game, and is mainly used to develop
football (soccer) for the masses, and not to fund representative international
matches that are, to a certain extent, self-funded. However, the lack
of finances has limited participation in international competitions. For
example, in the qualifying stages of the 1994 World Cup, over 20 African
nations failed to complete their games due to the lack of resources and
civil unrest, and similarly, 16 countries dropped out of the qualifying
stages of the African Cup of Nations in 1996.

More recently, media attention in Botswana has focused upon qualification
for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Botswana (nicknamed the ‘Zebras’)
have been drawn against Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Malawi and Guinea in
their Group Five World Cup qualifying matches. The winners of the competition
will proceed to the finals in Germany in 2006, while the top three will
qualify for the African Cup of Nations to be held in Egypt in the same
year. A tough competition is expected especially from Tunisia and Morocco,
both of whom hope to do well in order to enhance their bid to host the
World Cup Finals in 2010. Optimism within the BFA is high as they have
moved eight places from 36 to 28 in the African FIFA rankings (116 in
the FIFA world rankings in October 2003) so they hope to make an impact
on the qualifying group (Zebras Brace for World Cup 2006 Qualifiers, 2004;
Zebras to Face Harsh Realities of World Cup, 2003). Football in Botswana
has become an important focus in which the population may identify proudly
with a local, national or international team. Support for the national
team in World Cup qualifying matches represents the opportunity for the
expression of national pride and identity.

Participation in the World Cup qualifying matches, however, has raised
the issue of a lack of finances as the BFA need to raise approximately
P7 million ($2 million) in order for Botswana to participate in the 2006
World Cup and the African Cup of Nations qualifying rounds. The BFA chief
executive, Falcon Sedimo announced that they were in dire financial trouble
and there was a likelihood that they might fail to honor some of their
fixtures if funds could not be secured in time. This might have been a
strategic ploy to secure additional funding from government sources, but
it does highlight problems encountered by some national associations when
participating in international sports events such as the World Cup (Zebras
to Face Harsh Realities of World Cup, 2003).

Similar financial problems have confronted the national softball team
who competed in the International Softball Federation (ISF) XI Men’s
World Softball Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand between 29th
January and 8th February 2004. (Botswana Softball Team for
New Zealand, 2003; BSA Names Players for Men’s World Championships,
2003). Participation in the World Championships indicates the commitment
of the national association to play softball at international level, and
the availability of some funds to support such ventures. But the team’s
participation was thrown into uncertainty when the BSC pleaded that it
had insufficient funds to participate, so appealed to the BNSC for assistance.
The BSA had to raise one-half of the P300,000 ($1million) required to
participate, and the remainder was given by the BNSC. All finances were
eventually secured just prior to departure and Botswana’s participation
was confirmed by the International Softball Federation (ISF) (Softball
Men for New Zealand Championships, 2004).

Boxers from Botswana have achieved some success at international competitions,
and most national teams at international sports events such as the Olympic
Games, Commonwealth Games and the All-Africa Games include several boxers;
they won bronze medals at the All-Africa Games in Egypt in 1991, and in
Zimbabwe in 1995, the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England in 2002,
but winning medals at the Olympic Games has been more elusive. Boxing,
as with other sports, is hampered by a severe a lack of funds that is
restricting the ability of boxers from Botswana to compete in international
competitions. Botswana was only able to send five boxers instead of an
allocated 10 to the Olympic qualifying tournament in Casablanca, Morocco
between 15-22January 2004. Further problems arose when two of the boxers,
Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza and Lesley Sekotswe were refused
permission to leave their jobs as teachers by the Ministry of Education.
The BABA representative promptly called into question governmental support
for sport as the government refused permission for its own employees to
compete in the Olympic qualifying competition. The BABA maintained that
this action was not in line with the Ministry’s vision of Botswana
becoming a competitive sporting nation. Discussions between the BNSC,
the DSR, and the Ministry of Education did not secure the boxers’ release.
The three remaining boxers who did compete in Morocco failed to impress
as one was eliminated in the preliminary round, and the other two were
beaten during the quarterfinal stages (Botswana Boxers Fail to Impress,
2004; We are not to blame-BNSC, 2004). Further financial problems were
highlighted by the inability of the BABA to replace the old electronic
scoring system that is required to determine the results of boxing matches.
However, this situation was rectified by the International Boxing Association
(AIBA) as the African Boxing Championships were held in Botswana between
15-23 March 2004 and therefore supplied the new equipment (Cash-strapped
BABA to send Four Boxers to the Olympics, 2003).

Fledgling organizations. There have been a number of problems
recently that are typical of a fledgling organization trying to make an
impact in African and World sport. These problems are an indication of
instability in organizations that sometimes are not completely democratic.
In March 2001, for example, the Botswana part-time football coach David
Bright resigned following the 1-0 home defeat by Malawi in the first round
of the Confederation of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA)
Cup. He had only just been appointed coach before this game in order to
replace the veteran German coach, Heinz Marotske. Marotske was appointed
in January 2001, but mysteriously “walked-out” from the position
one week before the game with Malawi.

In response to this situation, the Sports Minister D.K.Kwelagobe became
involved by saying that the Botswana government would help to pay the
salary of a full-time coach in order to improve the results of the national
team (Jelusu Veselin from Yugoslavia was eventually appointed). The intervention
of the government calls into question the independence of the BFA that
is a feature of the organization of sport in democratic societies (Botswana
Search for ‘Big Name’ Coach, 2001). Further administrative
problems arose in January 2004 when Falcon Sedino, the chief executive
officer of the BFA resigned his post without disclosing the reasons for
his resignation (Sedimo Quits BFA Hot Seat, 2004). Similar problems have
arisen with ‘in-fighting’ within the Botswana Amateur Boxing
Association (BABA) over the appointment of coaches and managers for international
tournaments.

In softball, steps are being taken in Southern Africa to re-address the
lack of an adequate international structure. Representatives from Botswana,
Lesotha, South Africa and Zimbabwe met in Gaborone on 28th
November 2003 to establish a Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA)
Zone VI Softball Confederation. Delegates maintain that the absence of
an adequate international structure was highlighted by the absence of
women’s softball at the All-African Games (AAG) in Abuja, Nigeria
in October 2003. This was because a Zone VI tournament held as a qualification
tournament was not affiliated to the SCSA. In relation to the formation
of the confederation, Maumo Morule maintained that “it means we
will be eligible for all of the competitions sanctioned by the SCSA, we
will be eligible for support from the government, and it will strengthen
softball in the region” (Regional Softball on the Cards,”
2003).

Sport in schools. A lack of suitable organizations is highlighted
in the structure of sport in schools, and this is significant as most
children get their sports experience through schools. The Botswana Institutions
Sport Association (BISA) organizes sports competitions for junior and
secondary schools, and is affiliated to the BNSC and based in the Ministry
of Education. The BISA organizes sports competitions on a school-term
basis, that is athletics between January-May and ball games between May–August
(Toriola, 2001). It also organizes international competitions between
the smaller countries of Southern Africa. When asked about the structure
of athletics in schools in Botswana, I was told that:

Yes, there is an adequate structure, which is quite competitive because
those who became champions go on to compete with schools in Southern Africa
(it used to involve 6 countries including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland
etc during my time: 1996-1998). The only problem is that there is no effective
and efficient structure in place to support those outside school, but
I have heard that something is coming up…or has started as of last
year.

Despite having the BISA organizing competitive sport in school Mokgwathi
(1999, p. 128) still argues that “the major problem in secondary
schools is the lack of adequate facilities, equipment, trained personnel,
proper and safe transportation of the student athletes.” However,
no such organization exists to co-ordinate the development of sport at
the primary school level. This weakness in the structure of school sport
was addressed by the former director of the DSR, Shaw Kgathi who called
upon an umbrella organization similar to the BISA to co-ordinate the development
of sport in primary schools. He also recommended that funding sport in
the primary school level should also be increased (Kgathi for More Sport
Funding, 2003).

Mismanagement within organizations. Many new states seek to gain
membership of international sports bodies in order to give their country
status, legitimacy and publicity value (Houlihan, 1991, 1994, 2000). Membership
of most organizations is dominated by a small number of predominantly
Western European and North American democracies, therefore access is difficult.
European and North American members, for example, dominate the International
Olympic Committee (IOC), and it is also a problem with many international
sports federations “in which Western and European functionaries
still dominate” (Eichberg, 1984, p. 97). Many countries in Africa
seek membership of other smaller organizations, such as the Commonwealth
Games Federation, in order to have access to decision-making processes.
These organizations tend not to be dominated by the major powers, are
more concerned with policy decisions rather than exercising political
power, and are more democratic, thus allowing greater equality in decision
making (Houlihan, 1994).

The development of the football in Africa has also been undermined by
the lack of democratic processes within the administration of the sport.
For example, Ismail Bhamjee from Botswana was optimistic of becoming President
of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) at the elections on 22nd
January 2004. Bhamjee says that although voting is by secret ballot, he
was assured of support from 7 out of 15 West African countries, 3 out
of 9 from central African countries and 11 out of 13 South African countries.
In other democratic organizations it would be inconceivable to know the
outcome of a vote prior to it taking place, thus raising issues with regard
to CAF presidential elections being completely democratic (Bhamjee Optimistic
of Winning CAF Top Post, 2004). Further, some government officials often
interfere in the organization and administration of football that destabilizes
African football, and limits some country’s advancement in international
competition.

Concluding Comments

Corlett & Mokgwathi (1989) have argued that sport is a small part
in Botswana’s culture. They further argue that in a fragile economy,
to succeed at sport would require resources to be taken from other sectors
of the economy. Quite rightly they maintain that in this situation the
development of sport might not be a priority. The impressive economic
advances that Botswana has made since independence are being threatened
by the HIV/AIDS pandemic that has become the most devastating emergency
in the nation’s history. Botswana has the highest infection rate
in the world, and consequently household incomes are being reallocated
to assist AIDS patients within families. The pandemic is also compromising
children’s ability to stay at school thus reducing their opportunity
to participate in physical education and sport. The greatest impact is
on girls in Botswana who become infected at an earlier age and are at
least four times more likely to become infected than boys.

As most deaths from AIDS occur in adults of childbearing age, these parents
have left an estimated 78,000-orphaned children. This number of orphaned
children is likely to overstress the government’s capacity to offer
better delivery of social services including sport. If this trend continues,
an unprecedented number of children will be left without parental care,
and the traditional methods of caring for orphans will not be able to
cope. This again will reduce the resources available for developing sport
(At a Glance: Botswana, 2004).

Botswana has made great strides in the organization of sport since gaining
independence. The country is politically stable at least compared with
some of its African neighbors. Relevant bodies to administrate sport in
Botswana, that is the BNSC, and the BNOC, have been established, as has
their terms of reference. Botswana has been represented recently in the
finals of the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and the All-African
Games. Indeed taking into account the small population (1.47 million)
and the vastness of the country that makes traveling problematic, Botswana
has done remarkably well in international sport. But the BNSC ought to
encourage more of the population to participate in sport. The BNSC also
needs to address the problem of transparency, especially in financial
matters in sports organizations.

In 1999, in order to develop elite athletes and coaches, the BNSC in
conjunction with the United States Sport Academy initiated plans for a
national Sports Academy (Toriola, 2001), and this is an example of the
type of co-operation that needs to be undertaken. But more needs to be
done, and therefore Botswana needs to strengthen its agreements with countries
such as Cuba who can help to promote and develop sport for all in Botswana.
Further, Botswana needs to take advantage of the schemes organized by
the Olympic Solidarity Fund and those organized by federations such as
the IAAF and the Fėdėration Internationale de Football Association
(FIFA).

 

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2016-10-12T14:43:45+00:00March 3rd, 2004|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on Sports Development in Botswana, Africa

Focus, Self-confidence and Self-control Transfer of Teaching Techniques from a Taekwondo Den into the Regular Classroom

ACNOWLEDGMENT

I would like to thank all of my Taekwondo family for supporting this
research. Special thanks to Master S. T.K and Master Instructor M. W for
all their teaching and implementations of reinforcing values and rules
essential for a peaceful world and creating sound minds in sound bodies.

Abstract

This research describes teaching sessions of Taekwondo in a training
hall and analyzes different types of interactions between the students
and the teacher. A group of 5 children between the ages of 7 and 14 were
observed. The children were observed for a period of five weeks. Audiotapes
and field notes of all the verbal and nonverbal moves were recorded. Parents’
surveys and children’s public testimonies during the Black Belt testing
were also used as data supportive sources. Memoirs of the researcher’s
own three years’ experience in the same training hall were recorded. A
comparative microethnographic analysis was applied to find relationships
between the teaching techniques applied in the training hall and the possibility
of transfer of applicable strategies into the classroom. The objectives
of teaching Taekwondo were observed and examined as relevant assets to
the study. Evidence shows that techniques used in the training sessions
promoted and supported behavior that could be transferred into the regular
classroom in order to enhance successful academic performance as well
as social emotional behavior.

The Study

Taekwondo, one of the oldest martial arts in history, has seen many centuries
of followers and practitioners. Based on cultural philosophies and mental
disciplines, this Korean art became known worldwide in the 1950s and developed
into a discipline and greatly appreciated sport. With the last Olympic
games held in Sydney, Australia in 2000, the first Taekwondo competitions
were introduced (Be11, 2002). Literally translated, Tae means foot, Kwan
means hand and Do means art.

This art (do) according to matialartwebsites.com has been linked to positive
children’s behavior improvement. Students who are seeking physical strength
are also in for additional psychological benefits as suggested by Dr.
Kent (2002), the founder of a Taekwondo school. From a three-year experience
in the training hall, the researcher’s own experience supports the claim
that this martial art helps to reinforce some of life’s valuable lessons
such as perseverance and self-control, and helps improve physical and
mental well being.

Research in this field has been quite abundant, but mostly in its association
with physical fitness. Studies on children involved in Taekwondo training
have mainly focused on physical changes; particularly coordination, flexibility,
strength and muscular conditioning benefits. Researchers such as Bell
and Chang (1993) closely examined the effects of this martial art discipline
on personality traits and found a high correlation between Taekwondo and
the improvement of self-esteem and confidence. Their participants also
realized that this martial art enhanced not only their physical status,
but also their mental well being by decreasing anxiety and increasing
responsibility, commitment, and perseverance.

Several researchers have focused on educational issues. Matos (2000),
in her book, studied the effects of this martial art on children with
attention deficit disorders. She believes that one serious remedy for
such behaviors is involving the children in martial arts and the discipline
of using the body and the mind in synchronization. Hunter (2002) worked
with many generations of persons with severe behavior disorders by applying
the discipline of martial arts. Hunter found a correlation between being
involved mentally and physically and improving attention related disorders.

As the researcher, a teacher by profession, got involved in this martial
art, the issue of teaching techniques and transfer of practical methods
into the regular classroom became of great interest. As schools are moving
towards total inclusion, it would be helpful to view the process that
takes place in the training hall and the possibility of transferring its
techniques into the classrooms. Consequently, this research would address
the following questions:

1) What are some of the techniques and objectives of teaching used in
the training hall?
2) How do these techniques improve focus in the children’s behavior?
3) How do they improve self-confidence and self-control?
4) Can these teaching techniques be transferred into classroom situations?

METHOD

Design

This study consisted of observations and endnotes, audiotapes of lessons,
surveys drawn from the parents, as well as public testimonies of two of
the students. Moreover, the researcher collected a file of handouts and
letters written by the Master to the students along with all the other
schedules and announcements involved in the sessions. The researcher explored
the interactions and analyzed the teaching style in order to determine
the effects of Taekwondo on the general behavior of children. These details
were used to develop some theoretical perspectives (as suggested by Patton,
2000).

Data collection and management

Since the researcher’s history with this particular training hall had
been long, measures were taken to promote accuracy on a daily basis. Prompt
recording and analytic memos were written daily. Observations were focused
on:
1. The actions during the test: primary source based on his own observations
2. The behavior and demands during lesson giving (as teachers) in class
(primary source based on his own observations)
3. The behavior coming in and going out on a daily basis (primary source
based on observation)
4. The behavior in a demonstration: based on occasional observations
5. The behavior in a championship tournament: based on memory of researcher

Additional data came from the following sources:

1. Surveys from parents intended to validate the benefits of these martial
arts, if any.
2. Documents that are distributed in the form of handouts related to activities
in the school. Some examples are: the request of the Master to check the
student’s academic performance, their chores and duties at home, their
service to the community, etc.
3. Testimony for Black Belt testing: primary source (public speech).

Other school documents or handouts mailed by the Master to the students
were also included. All these colleted documents were examined based on
Bogdan and Biklen’s ethnographic strategies (1998).

Triangulation

With the variety of sources, surveys, handouts, fieldnotes and verbal
discourse between the Master and the students, their actions and their
testimonies, the within process triangulation or as I would call it, embedded
triangulation would insure the validity of this study. It is also important
to mention that the use of participants had a dual function: mainly to
collect data, but ultimately to create a focal point for the researcher
as a synthesis to the data being examined.

Data Analysis

All audiotapes and field notes were transcribed using microethnographic
procedures as recommended by Ochs (1979) and by Bogdan and Biklen (1998).
These transcripts were recorded using pseudonyms for all participants.
The focus was on the type of instruction the Master gave and the type
of response the students were expected to produce.

Analyzing data yielded an ethnographic approach to coding and interpreting.
Content analysis was also applied to find categories and patterns in the
verbal as well as the nonverbal discourse of the Master and the instruction
given. Responses from the parents’ surveys were also used to prepare conceptual
categories related to the benefits of Taekwondo and the way they are introduced
in this particular discipline. Documents related to activities in the
martial arts school were aids in bringing focus to the important aspects
of this discipline and the basis of its philosophy. The purpose of such
analysis would also ensure the development of categories of recurrent
behaviors and hopefully generate patterns relevant to the research.

From a convenience sampling, the data shifted to an intensity sampling
where all the elements in the environment contributed to items supportive
of the research. There were various sources of data that were intertwined
and closely related to form a supportive background to the research questions.
As Patton (2003) warns “But the documentation could not have made
sense without the interviews, and the focus of the interviews came from
the field observations.”(p 307).

The training hall

The Taekwondo school is located in a suburb in Northern Kentucky serving
a population of 20,000 inhabitants. Being in a commercial center, it serves
a large area of middle socioeconomic class inhabitants. The school is
a rectangular bright hall with a red carpet in the center of the floor,
and a long table at the end. Covered with a velvet carpet that hangs to
the ground, this table serves as the Master’s quarter. On the mirrored
wall behind the Master’s table, two big white boards are hanging. On the
first board, the “Ethical rules” are written and on the other, the
“Tenets of Taekwondo”. Next to the boards, there are two flags:
the American and the Korean.

On the adjacent wall there is another bigger board with all the moves
and steps written in Korean and in English. This wall is also half covered
with mirrors. In the corners of the room, there are protection gears as
well as kicking and punching bags. In only one corner, there are some
shelves where stray belts and clothing are stored. Along the wall where
the entrance door is, there are six chairs and a bench for spectators
and visitors’ use.

Participants

The researcher focused on a group of five children ages 7 to 14. These
children have been part of this school for a minimum of 16 months and
attend the same schedule: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on a regular
basis. The observations lasted for one hour each, based on three times
per week for a period of five weeks. It is also important to note that
the researcher has been part of this school for the last three years and
that some of the fieldnotes are also based on memory of repetitive events.
Participants’ parents were given surveys to fill out pertaining to the
benefits of Taekowondo and their child’s development (Appendix A).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The results of this study are organized around the issues related to
teaching methods, environmental settings , and the affect of the students
with the most salient being: focus, confidence, and self-control/obedience.

Focus

Limited Verbal Stimulation

The concept of focus is one factor that characterizes this data set.
Focus means that students are expected to stay on task, physically and
mentally, until completion. The parents unanimously touched upon the concept
of focus. One mom declared: “My son seems to stay focused better
than previously. Still has problems but much better than before. Still
stays better focused on homework and things he is doing”. Trying
to find threads that led to the reinforcement of focus in children, observations
indicate that a certain routine characterized the sessions. To better
understand the systematic pattern of representations that occurred, the
following will describe a typical day at the training hall.

Children scattered around while adults waited for the line up to get
organized. The voice of the assistant instructor, clear and firm, indicated
the beginning of the session: “4:30 class! Line Up!” .The hands
of the clock pointed at exactly the time announced. One call was the trigger
for the scurrying around of the children trying to find a place on the
lines indicated by a blue tape on the red carpet. Since ranking is an
important feature for their lining up, children focused on the belt colors
to place themselves in the line. To the right, all the higher belts lined
up starting from the Black to the red, the blue, the green, the yellow,
the white and finally the no-belts. Regardless of the age of the students,
the belt color is the only indicator of the ranking in line. In the case
of big students obstructing the view of the others, some mild rearrangements
are done by the instructor to allow both instructor (or leader of the
session) and students to see each other at all times. The second call
sounded out: “Turn around, uniform check!” which resulted in all
students looking at their uniform and checking if their belts were all
right and if all was tucked in properly. Again visual and mental focus
was diverted towards the self- check. “Close eyes for meditation!”
At this sound, spectators and all in attendance were relatively quiet
allowing for a calm atmosphere for focus to be established.

Young and old, big and small, females and males, were all unified with
one move, all on their knees, their eyes closed and in silence. A minute
later, the instructor’s voice sounded again: “Open eyes! Chariot!
Kenai!” Everyone opened their eyes, bowed and stood up. All eyes were
focused forward onto the instructor waiting for him to dictate the next
move. Day after day, one can observe the same routine with hardly any
change except for the leader of the session. Depending upon the availability
of higher belts, the leader of the session is chosen by the assistant
instructor. The Grand Master as well as the assistant instructor are always
present and available.

Imitative behavior. Self-checking

The session continued with each move being uttered verbally once, and
the students following through based on the imitation of the leader of
the session. One wrong move meant that all had to wait till that student
straightened their stance. Each move was called once in English and twice
in Korean at which point the students would repeat verbally twice and
then execute the move. There were no interruptions allowed during the
actual process unless of an emergency. There were no allowances made for
any type of interruptions that were not directly relevant to the moves
executed at that time. lf a student was not attentive or not looking at
the instructor or the leader, the Grand Master would remind them to move
their eyes back on target with a simple remark: “Where are you looking,
you?” If a student’s stance were wrong, the instructor or Master
would say: “What stance? Look!” With warm-ups, and basic motions,
twenty minutes had gone by and everyone would still be focused and moving.
“Chariot! Kenia! One minute break.” shouted the leader. Students
shook hands with the leader thanking him for this part of the session
and went out for water and a minute of fresh air.

The minute was up and all came back upon hearing the call of the leader
again: “Everyone, line up!”. For this segment of the session,
students lined up seated along the rim of the carpet. This time they sat
perpendicular to the Master’s table. Children checked on their seating
order following the ranking and crossed their legs while on the line.
If children were talking it would go on briefly until the Master uttered
the first sounds: “Black belt line up!” Then silence reigned
one more time. If ever a child would speak and not pay attention, the
Master would order him/her to be quiet but if this type of behavior persisted,
then the Master would order: “Push up ten times!” The child would
execute the push-ups and verbally repeat what he/she should have been
doing: “I am quiet.” If that behavior persisted, the Master
would require that they leave the training hall and come back after a
few minutes or when he permitted them to. If they were too young to be
left alone outside, he would ask them to sit by him, alone in front of
the group. Such types of punishment were very consistent but hardly ever
administered, as children seemed to follow rules to avoid such confrontations.

When orders were called, students executed. When the Master interrogated,
students answered with: ”Yes Sir! No Sir!” When he asked a question,
he expected a simple positive or negative answer. There was zero tolerance
for any lengthy or hesitant “I am not sure” and “I don’t care”.
If the child was really too young, the Master would say: “I talk
to parents” and that would solve the timely question. During all this
activity, the children would be totally focused on the proceedings of
the session.

Physical environment: Memory oriented

The simplicity of the physical environment of the training hall consisted
of limited visual aids and visual stimuli. The human element consisted
of the student body, the Master and instructors, and finally the visitors.
However, focus on the self and the instructor or the leader were the keys
to all the activities. At times, when spectators would be noisy or talking,
the students were not actually permitted to pay attention to them. If
a child’s gaze would wander off, the Master would catch it and would remind
the student again by asking them to repeat what had just been said or
done. One salient feature of the training hall was the obvious fact that
there were limited visuals to divert the attention of the students off
the instructor. The hall has one wall with mirrors and one wall where
all the white charts with terms in English and in Korean were written
in big script for everyone to see. The students were expected to memorize
these terms within the first six to eight months of their training. Besides
these two walls there were no other visuals. Children either stared into
the mirrors or just straight ahead. With limited verbal and auditory stimulation
and limited instruction, these children appear to have the ability to
keep their focus and carry through the session without any complications.

Duties in the training hall and at home

While answering surveys, parents conveyed similar ideas about the effects
of Taekwondo. They all mentioned the fact that their children had acquired
more focus, knowledge, and responsibility and stayed longer on tasks.
A mom wrote: ”The strength of Taekwondo is in developing physical fitness,
discipline, and concentration. The home chores chart promotes tranquility
at home and helps children focus on their duties and homework”. By
mentioning the home chart, she meant that Taekwondo teaching did not stop
at the threshold of the training hall but went beyond it to the home and
the society to which the student belonged. The home chart is one of the
handouts that the Master actually sends home every month. It is a list
of all the items that children are encouraged to accomplish as duties
at home and at school and in the environment. It is the Grand Master’s
plan as a follow-up technique of the disciplining of the mind as well
as the body. These charts show chores the children are supposed to carry
out at home, to help their parents, obey the rules of the household, and
do their homework. For this particular mother, this chart seemed to assist
her in keeping things under control. When the children completed this
chart monthly, they would bring it back and receive a green star as a
reward in front of the student body.

In order to insure continuity of completing duties and achieving focus,
the Master has the training hall set-up in a way that is intended to promote
helping students to become responsible and focused. The first duty the
children needed to attend to as they entered the training hall was to
1) bow, 2) take their shoes off, 3) pickup their student form, 4) and
head directly to the assistant instructor and the Master. Then they would
hand in their form for absence using both hands and bowing to the Master
who would usually be sitting at his rectangular table, parallel to the
mirrored wall. Observations reveal the speed at which all these routines
were learned. Some children would go on to do some stretches or if they
were too young, they would find an adult to cling to or talk to. Those
who would come in with their parents or caregivers would just sit by until
the session began. During each observation conducted, I saw the five subjects
with their parents and their instructors. Once they entered the training
hall, parents never interfered with their children nor the Master, unless
for some urgent business. Parents also seemed to understand the rules
of the game and knew how to delegate power to the Master once in his training
hall. They behaved like the rest of the students, for example, they would
take off their shoes as soon as they entered the hall and would not step
across the red carpet that was only meant for the students.

Respect was another factor that was greatly displayed in the training
hall: respect of students to each other, to the parents, the spectators,
and finally the things available in the training hall such as punching
bags, mats, and sparring gear. In all cases and at all times, one way
of showing respect to the Master is that whenever he came into the training
hall, and regardless of the group’s activity, everyone stopped and turned
facing the Master, bowing and shaking his hand with a greeting. Courtesy
was exhibited in many ways by all the present in the hall. Parents have
learned to bow to the Master too and did so when appropriate. They had
also learned not to interfere and to keep to a minimum, the level of noise
and distraction while waiting in the training hall. As for the students,
the lower belts have learned to bow for the higher belts or for the Black
belts, to listen to their teachings, and to respect their elders.

Among other duties, students were supposed to help the younger belts
acquire the routine of respect and the duties of the training hall. In
some instances, when the first afternoon group came in, one of the students
would take the responsibility to vacuum the carpet and turn the fans on
to freshen up the place. There was also a strong feeling of a tightly
knit family gathering in the training hall that was more than just a Taekwondo
school for learning. As one of the students involved in this study testified
during his black belt test: “Master K. made us feel like a family
and I like it when we help out with setting the hall for the parties and
the Christmas events. I also helped my Mom in buying stuff for the Christmas
party last year and I like that”. Sharing responsibilities and taking
part in all types of events that the Master provided in his training hall
made the students feel like one big cluster with equal opportunities of
leadership. When traveling to tournaments or demonstrations, the Master
delegates duties to all and assigns tasks in a way that makes students
feel responsible towards themselves and everyone else in the group. One
way of being in a group is staying together in one hotel or traveling
from the training hall in a carpool. When the students reported to others
about their experiences, there were signs of having had a great time and
a valuable experience.

Confidence

General knowledge

Another salient feature of the data, especially collected from the surveys,
was the issue of confidence. Parents mentioned that their children (3
out of 5) who started as very shy children can speak up and talk in public
and are showing signs of confidence. One mom declared: “He has more
confidence and shows responsibility and knowledge at home and at school”.
Another parent declared that there has been a gradual increase in responsibility
and knowledge. A third parent wrote: “During the last parents ‘ conference,
the teacher told me that my daughter has changed drastically this past
year. She is strong and shows confidence in her work”. Another tangential
testimony of confidence was displayed during the black belt testing of
two of the students included in the study. For this promotion, every student
has to prepare a public speech telling about his or her history in the
training hall with all the activities and the participation that would
have taken place. In the testimony, one student said: “I was very
scared when first started, because everyone was bigger and stronger than
I was…but now I am more confident and am not scared of learning new
things…At school my grades are better”. Both students indicated
how well focused and confident they had become and attributed these results
to the discipline of this martial art.

According to the students’ testimonies, public performances and demonstrations
at schools and in different locations have helped them tremendously. They
have actually become more confident and have acquired a great amount of
knowledge. As a matter of fact, this testimony itself was a public speech
and both students were speaking out loudly and assertively. Their participation
in demonstrations and exhibits as well as in tournaments has shaped their
self-esteem and self-image, according to some parents’ declaration.

Another aspect of the Taekwondo experience that seems to foster confidence
is the experience of teaching that all students eventually have a chance
to lead. Once a month, the assistant instructor would choose a leader
for the session to teach. One of the students mentioned the pride he took
when it was his turn to teach: “I feel great when I can teach the
class, it makes me proud”. Another parent also declared: “I never
thought I would see my child teach the class and he loves it now”.
The Master sometimes chooses a leader to teach the class on an hourly
basis. Regardless of the age of the child or the students, the belt one
carries determines one’s seniority and thus the privilege to teach goes
to that individual. This feature of the session has been a great help
in building confidence in the students. Leadership, clarity of directions,
teaching skills are all segments of this experience in the training hall.
When a student teacher faces the others and gives directions, the imitation
of the actual physical move has to be mirror imaged. That too requires
a tremendous amount of focus and confidence. It also requires that the
student teaching take care of the beginners and give them a special assignment
or assign other belts to take care of them. There are also instances where
the children play the role of judges as they are observing the higher
belts performing their forms, their breaking techniques, or their sparring
competency. They have to give scores and be fair as well as show evidence
for their own decision.

Self Knowledge

Verbal clarity and identity assertion were coded as components of confidence.
These two factors were also observed while training in this school. I
have observed the students standing up and answering the Master when being
asked questions. The Master’s message is obvious all throughout the sessions.
To start with, he always encourages pupils to introduce themselves to
each other and to the new members. He also demands that they speak up
in front of a public and express themselves clearly and loudly. If they
sounded whiny, the master would imitate their sound, and students would
actually laugh at it. Day after day, sessions had been conducted with
many spectators in the audience. Parents, visitors, occasional curious
individuals would stroll in to see what was happening. Most of the time,
during my observations, it felt like each session was a public performance,
and one had to be at one’s best to promote oneself and this art.

While testing, introducing oneself meant that the student would state
one’s age, the length of training in the hall, and introduce one’s family.
This exemplifies self- knowledge and the acknowledgment of one’s personality
and presence. While demonstrating in other locations, students are encouraged
to state their name, their martial art school and their Master instructor’s
name and school address. All this information is an assertion of the identity
of the student in Taekwondo. It is almost identifying oneself with a group
or a family. Students also must memorize their Master’s history and all
his achievements. For example: my master is seventh Dan in Taekwondo,
seventh Dan in Hapkido, and sixth Dan in Judo.

Knowledge was also an observed and coded component of confidence. Knowing
the Taekwondo terms both in English and in Korean is also part of the
training of Taekwondo. Memorization is enhanced by repetition and everyday
routine. Students seem to demonstrate pride when they are able to say
such foreign sounds without even knowing how to write or read them. Once
well acquired, one of the objectives of Taekwondo is teaching the students
a sense of honest and integral leadership. In the training hall, and on
the wall, there is an automatic message strip that comes on and fades
away, all throughout the sessions. The sign reads: “Yes I can attitude”.
It is the Master’s biggest objective and perpetual plea during the lessons.
One would hear him saying: “No babies here! Yes I can! Yes, I can!”
Students are then asked to repeat and assert that they actually can and
he encourages them to try and promotes achievement in the hall and at
home. With this leadership, students begin to understand their capacities
and try to achieve higher goals.

The Master never forgets to include the student’s personal information
in the monthly newsletter he sends to his parents. He acknowledges birthdays,
achievements, and rewards of good performance in school. When a child
brings a report card, it is read aloud to everyone and the Master rewards
the student with a blue star. Award giving is also a ritual in the training
hall as the Master recognizes the good deeds of the students and encourages
them through words of praise. There are different colored stars for different
achievements and promotions in the school as well as the Martial arts.
Students also are encouraged to share the extracurricular activities they
are involved in: music, art, sports and others. For good achievement,
rewards are always awaiting and stars are given out as acknowledgements.

Physical strength

While reinforcing all the mental disciplines of Taekwondo, physical strength
is another display of observed confidence and perpetually the target.
The first items to be memorized in the training hall are the physical
benefits of the martial art: ” One can develop good coordination,
build strength, increase flexibility and improve cardiovascular conditionings
”. These benefits are written in large print on the board on one of the
wails. Once memorized, the Master insures the repetition of these benefits
in order for the students not to lose sight of the objectives and reason
of their presence in the training hall. Moreover, as children are acquiring
all these benefits, parents have commented on other aspects of their children’s
development. One mother said: ” my boys have more endurance and show
strength.” Some parents noticed the immediate change in weight of
their child who was a bit overweight.

Beginners from day one join the entire group in stretching and jumping
and kicking as well as breaking boards. Then, immediately, peer teaching
and coaching is put in practice. During the observations, one sees children
imitating other older belts and trying steps that are even harder than
their own level. These aspects are the supporting aids that the Master
uses in order to promote confidence and strength in his students.

Self Control and Obedience

With the discipline and the tight regimental approach in Taekwondo comes
confidence that I have classified under self-control. Most of all, one
would speak of self-control as one’s knowledge increases about one’s own
powers and strengths. One of the parents actually declared that her child,
who used to cry and moan about every little fall or gash on the knee,
has become stronger and acts more like a grownup. Another mother wrote:
“my children used to fight and hurt each other. Now, they understand
that they should not be doing that. They also know the difference between
play and causing real pain to each other”. In practice, the Taekwondo
sessions daily end up with a review of all the rules that govern the martial
art of Taekwondo. One can hear the students yell:

Ethical rules
Loyalty to nation,
Obedience to parents,
Confidence in friends
Don’t retreat from enemy attack
Refrain from senseless killing
Tenets of Taekwondo
Courtesy,
Integrity,
Perseverance,
Self-control,
Indomitable spirit,
Sound mind in a sound body.

It is the Master’s final message that he usually sends with the students
before they leave the training hall. These rules are to be practiced not
only inside the training hall but also at home and in the student’s environment.
While teaching students to spar, rules are extreme and stringent. Students
are not allowed to hurt each other, but to demonstrate fighting styles
with knowledge. The rules are to be followed and kept. From the surveys,
a parent wrote: “my children are able to listen to me and keep from
bothering each other as tranquility is restored at home with the rest
of their siblings”. In the hall, children keep their hands to themselves.
They are not allowed to play rough or use what the Master calls “horseplay”.
With this type of discipline emerge self-control and positive attitudes
towards other human beings. Respect, knowledge, courtesy, awareness are
all foci of the Master’s teaching, and are crucial ingredients for self-control.

Acquisition of physical and mental powers promotes confidence and self-control.
As children start learning their breaking techniques, the Master always
urges them to stay modest and humble. Breaking the wood seems to have
a great effect on children. It informs them that they are becoming stronger
and stronger. However, the Master resents boasting and actually makes
fun of people who do so. One would hear him say: “No show off time!
Humble you stay!” Though children are always showing excitement when
they do break wood, the Master is always requesting that they first try
their level without boasting. He also urges obedience to the advice of
higher belts. He says: “No big head!” For techniques like Judo falling
and the use of self-defense, the Master talks to parents about the dangers
of simple mistakes causing severe and tragic physical damages to students.
He always advises that students never try these techniques alone until
they are able to perfect the motions and till the Master agrees that it
is permissible to do so. The Master always talks to parents and greets
the parents at all times. This act seems to keep the parents involved
in all their children’s progress regardless of the student’s age. With
this, he insures obedience, promotes self control and urges the focus
of the students

Implications and Discussion

The first implication is the revival of confidence in the physical education
hours spent at schools. For some children, these would be the only hours
they spend actively involved in sports and other physical activities.
Parents in modern societies, who are busy working, find it hard to accommodate
their children after school in activities that would promote a healthy
body. First, it is time consuming and secondly it is costly. Thus less
and less time is allotted for such physical fitness. Looking at this martial
art would revive the confidence of building a healthy body for healthy
living. Physical education teachers themselves would regain confidence
in what they are promoting in making of “sound bodies” and thus
“sound minds”. In one of the dominant websites of academic Taekwondo
(www.academictaekwondo.com), the martial art program has been adopted
by the academic curriculum and the outcome has had a phenomenal effect
on the mental and psychological benefits of students. Parents and educators
have testified to its effects on children and the possibility of incorporating
it in the regular classrooms. Keeping the objective clearly afloat, the
academic curriculum would then stress this vital component for the healthy
development of the students. To start a day with some recollection, some
physical fitness will undoubtedly create a great predisposition for the
process of learning and acquisition.

Another psychological implication of practicing martial arts is the promotion
of values. Knowledge, perseverance, self-confidence and encouragement
would be greatly promoted and reinforced through such teaching strategies.
It might be helpful for teachers to use the “Yes I can attitude”
motto as a great concept to promote confidence and increase academic production.
By reminding the students that they are able to promote themselves and
that they are capable of reaching higher levels constantly and by showing
them the way to success, teachers may be able to promote higher learning
and create better individuals for future employment. Though this might
appear totally behavioristic, the reward system applied in Taewkondo never
seems to fail. A simple word of praise, a pat on the back, a star could
go a longer way than just criticism and undermining students’ achievement.

Though studies on academic performance and their relation to Taekwondo
have been minimal and hard to locate, some techniques might be worthwhile
trying in classrooms. Creating reasons for learning might give a concrete
meaning in the real life application, for students as they try to understand
and learn about a certain subject matter. Self-knowledge and general knowledge
ensue from above practices, as students become leaders in their fields
Another possible activity for application in the classroom is applying
teaching roles to students that might also become a very helpful aid in
the learning process. Regardless of the capacity of the child, the experience
of leadership seems to have helped students in the training hall. The
logic is that if students do not know what it means to be a leader they
will never know the skills they need to become one. Thus making them leaders
occasionally gives them a sense of accomplishment and creates a great
learning opportunity especially for those whose self-esteem is suffering.
Galea (2001) emphasizes the benefits of Taekwondo on the self-image and
self esteem of the individuals. This helps to promote success by promoting
self-esteem and self-respect.

Setting up of the classroom in a way where the visual stimulation would
be limited and only what needs to be memorized is visualized may also
be a great feature to promoting focused learning. The use of organizational
charts and the application in the classrooms of related skills can also
be a great guide to students. Reminding students of their duties at home
and in the society might create continuity in their lives where they become
representatives of their own learning and their learning establishment.
Consequently, it might promote the personality of the child by reminding
them that they represent their knowledge at all times in the society.
A related issue is the example of imitation and duplication of teachers’
behaviors.

Finally the constant visual reminder represented by a written rule on
the board might also be helpful. Respect of others, of nature and of society
is of great value. It is a great tool for the improvement of relations
in the classroom and outside. Self-control, courtesy and humility are
additional values that our students might need to manifest and to apply
for reaching harmonious living with other peers. In his Taewkondo academy,
Master Kent (2002) emphasizes self control by teaching semi-contact sparring,
he declares that: “executing a fast strong punching or kicking technique
and pulling it just short of your opponent’s face and body is a higher
achievement than just blasting your opponent’s face”(pl).
Incorporating those values by posting them on boards and by modeling such
behaviors might help create a safer and more peaceful society.

Personally, I find it reassuring to know that the philosophical features
of martial arts do not teach our children to act violently but to promote
long-term values and establish physical as well as moral strength. Parents’
testimonies from various Taekwondo websites have emphasized the values
that remain in children even after the punch and kick is long gone (courtesy
martialartswebsites.com):

“In a short period of time Brittany showed an increase in self-confidence
and a whole new attitude in the respect she has had towards adults and
her peers. Her grades in school continued to be excellent along with
all positive comments from her teachers.”
– Brittany’s Mom

“Chris’ confidence has increased as a result of her achievements
in Taekwondo. When she carries out her Taekwondo philosophy over to
other parts of her life, she is more successful. Her level of confidence
has directly affected her success.”
– Christine’s Mom

“We are very proud of Devon and feel he has incorporated the core
values of a “Black Belt” into his overall personality. He consistently
demonstrates self-confidence, an overall positive attitude, respect
for others, strong academic achievement and self- discipline and control.”
– Devon’s Parents

“I can see that many of the philosophies you have taught my son
about respect, confidence and composure have stayed with him outside
of Taekwondo training”
– Matt’s Mom

“We have watched our Son progress both physically and emotionally
into a more self- assured young man. We are not so sure he would have
made such astonishing progress without the discipline, fortitude and
patience, to name just a few qualities this art has taught him.”
– Christopher’s Parents

Jeremy has exhibited leadership qualities both in and out of his classroom.
He has maintained a very good grade average, completes his assignments
and associates with friends who share the same values he has been taught
in Taekwondo.”
– Jeremy’s Dad

Appendix A

Parents’ Survey/ Questionnaire

“By completing this survey I indicate my consent for my answers
to be used in this study”.

Researching the effects of Taekwondo on children, the purpose of this
questionnaire is to clarify how this type of martial art influences your
child’s behavior socially, emotionally and physically. Please take a moment
to fill in the survey. Upon completion, I appreciate if you could insert
it in the yellow envelope (with G.C.SATHER) typed on it. The envelope
is tacked to the bulletin board to the left of the entrance into the training
hall. To insure anonymity, please do not write your name. I would also
appreciate if you could try to have it in by the end of the month of February.

-My child started Taekwondo on:

-At school, he/she
Socially:
Physically:

-At home, he/she is
Socially:
Physically:
Academically:

-Improvement has shown
In School? How?
At home? How?

-Does your child like Taekwondo?

-Do you like Taekwondo?

-How do you feel Taekwondo has helped your child?

-What are the strengths of Taekwondo, in your opinion?

-Would you advise it to other parents? (Comments are appreciated)

Thank you
Grece Chami-Sather

References

  1. (3rd edition). Boston: Bogdan, R. & Biklen, S. (1998). Qualitative
    researching education Ally &Bacon Bell, R.C and Chang C.M (2002).
    The exploration of the effect of Taewkondo training on personality traits.
    [Electronic version}. The Sport Journal, 5(3). Retrieved March 8,2002
    from http://www.thesportjournal.org/2002joumal/Vol5-No3/taedwondo-training.htm
  2. Galea, J. (2001) http://www.umaskarate.com/information/why.html
  3. Hunter. (2000,Spring). Focusing on children with ADD SuzannWancket,
    Martial Arts instructor .ADD Action group newsletter 4(2). Retrieved
    from http://www.addgroup.org/S00News.htm
  4. http://www.allamericantkd.com/aat/index.cfm
  5. Kent, H. (2002). Christian Academy of Martial Arts.http://www.karate.tvheaven.com/
  6. Lecompte, M.D. and Schensul, J.J. (1998). Designing and conducting
    ethnographic research. Ethnographer ‘s toolkit. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
    publications, lnc. Matos, C. and Matos, C. (2002) Pants with pockets
    and other tips on managing an ADD/ADHD child. Retrieved Dec.16, 2002
    from http: www.addgroup.org.
  7. Ochs, E. (1979). Transcript as theory. In E. Ochs & B. Schieffelin
    (Eds.),
  8. Developmental Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press.
  9. Patton, M. Q. (2002) Qualitative research and evaluation method (3rd
    edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications.
  10. Strauss, A.L. and Corbin, J.M. (1998). Basics of qualitative research:
    Techniques and Procedures for developing grounded theory (2nt ed). Thousand
    Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
2015-03-20T10:39:16+00:00March 2nd, 2004|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Coaching, Sports Exercise Science, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on Focus, Self-confidence and Self-control Transfer of Teaching Techniques from a Taekwondo Den into the Regular Classroom

Addiction and the College Athlete: The Multiple Addictive Behaviors Questionnaire (MABQ) with College Athletes

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Types and Effects of Motor Adaptation a Left-handed Persons in Daily Life and in Contemporary Sport Training

Submitted by Wlodzimierz Starosta

INTRODUCTION

In different countries there are between 5% to 50% of the left-handed people, most of whom live in Africa (Fig.1). It is estimated that there is about 240 million left-handed people around the world. So far the reasons for left-handiness have not been fully explained. There are various hypotheses that have not yet been confirmed. One of them propounds that left-handiness is innate and develops because of a dominant gene (Annett, 1981). Another hypothesis gives priority left-handedness to the  impact of the environment. There are many facts  that justify the third hypothesis according to which right-handiness steeped in and approved by tradition, preserved for hundreds of years and passed down from generation to generation, has eventually become an inborn ability (Handelsman, Smirnov, 1960; Krestownikov, 1951; Starosta 1963; 1977). It is even more plausible because, as some researchers claim (Ludwig, 1932), a human being in the course of many centuries of evolution has gone through different stages. At the very beginning he was left-handed, then ambidextrous and finally right-handed. This hypothesis can be strengthened by the fact that the relics of ambidextrous education can now be found in some societies for example in Japan.

 

Figure One
Fig.1. Left-handed subjects to total ratio population(%) of selected countries and according to several authors [Starosta 1995]

 

This hypothesis seems also to be supported by studies of numerous authors (Kreutz, et al., 1970; Passian, et al., 1969; Pocelujev, 1951; Storjohann, 1969; Suchenwirth, Gallenkamp, 1967; Szuman, 1957) which concerned the domination of the upper limb in the ontogenetic motor development of man. They show an increasing domination of the right hand in the grip of infants between thr 4th and the 11th month (Fig.2). The decreasing number of the left-handed and the both-handed with age amongst individuals of both sexes is shown also by extensive studies of many authors (Fig.3,4). The results of those studies seem to indicate a modifying role of the environment in the shaping of the dominating upper limb in man.

 

Figure Two
Fig.2. Right hand catch to total catch ratio (%) in new-born child in different months of life [Szuman 1957]

 

Figure Three
Fig.3. Ratio of right- and left-handed and ambidextrous childs in pre-school years [Pocelujev 1951]

 

 

Figure Four
Fig.4. Ratio of right- and left-handed and ambidextrous persons in different years of life n=2935 [Starosta 1995]

 

Living in the right-handed society, do the left-handed have to adapt to it? For centuries it was a necessity as left-handiness was considered to be a freak of nature and left-handed people were treated as inferior. This is why there are so many pejorative terms and expressions associated with left-handedness such as a lefty, a southpaw, a left-handed meaning clumsy and awkward or immoral, or the Polish expression “to get out of bed with the left leg first” meaning in English “to get out of bed on the wrong side” and another Polish expression that employs the term “left” – “to obtain something on the left” meaning in English “to obtain something on the crook.”

For centuries the left-handed have been ignored and very often even, persecuted by almost every human community. The right hand, as dominant and most important, was encouraged and maintained by religious cults. In the Middle Ages it was believed that the right hand was given by God and the left hand was given by Devil. This is why the left-handed people were persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition. There is a deep-rooted belief prevailing in the social consciousness up till now that left-handedness is a deviation from the norm, and the right-handedness is considered to be this norm. Over centuries left-handedness has been thought to be a defect, a disease and even a handicap. This is why, the whole environment of the left-handers, including parents, teachers and coaches, aimed at changing them in an attempt to develop a right hand ability in them.

Thus, under such pressure the left-handed tried to quickly adjust to the surrounding environment. This kind of adaptation carried out in the atmosphere of almost neurosis and without any didactic knowledge and experience led to numerous disorders in the whole body of a left-hander (Fig.5). These practises took place especially during the early childhood of the young people. The attempts at those more or less successful adaptations of the left handed resulted in different types of the left-handedness (Fig.6). The effects of these alterations have become a serious social problem. For example, in Germany, where there is about 8 million left-handers an Advice and Information Centre for the Left-handed and Altered Left-handers was established. Moreover a “Handbook for the Left-handed” was then published (Meyer, 1991). Due to the greater tolerance there is now a possibility of maintaining left-handedness.

 

 

Figure 5
Fig.5. The effects of transforming the left-handed into the right handed, i.e. the change of the dominant limb in everyday living [Starosta 1995]

 

Figure Six
Fig.6. The types of Left-Handedness in sport everyday life [Starosta 1995]

 

The question is how the issue of the left-handed is approached in sport? Similarly to other spheres of human life, tolerance has become in sport one of the greatest achievements. What does that mean in practice? Does that imply the possibility of taking part in training courses designed for right-handed people or its special mode for the left-handed? The left-handed person had usually adjust to the training prepared for the right-handed. Rarely did it happen that a certain element of training was provided exclusively for a left-handed person. If it happened it was the sportsman initiative and programme to do so. It is hard to determine the percentage of the left-handed who used this kind of self-improvement. In the studies of lateralisation carried out over many years I have not encountered any technique teaching programme or individualisation of training adequate for a left-handed person. Since the problem of the left-handed was non-existing in the theory of training, it was hard to expect a different situation in practice.

It was recognised neither in the theory of motor learning, nor in anthropokinetics (Szopa, 1992] nor in sport kinetics (Hirtz, et al., 1994). One of the anthropokinetics handbooks (Celikowski, et al., 1979) mentioned the problem but did not attempt at solving it. Only some publications (Fischer, 1988; Oberbeck, 1989; Osiński, 1993) approached the issue more seriously. The problem of individual sports training for the left-handed has not been solved although it affects a greater part of the population.

This is why the aim of the present paper is :

1. Presenting the types and effects of adaptation (transformation) found in those who practise different, according to the complexity, sports.

2. The search for more feasible ways of the left-handed training.

The types and effects of motor adaptation in sport.

As there was no appropriate research material available I was forced to analyse the individual cases of five distinguished sportsmen. I will be dealing with only successful cases of motor adaptation because only those were examined in the literature. The publications concerning a lateral differentiation in fitness most often cite an example of right-handed Takacs (Fig.7) – (Jokl, 1981). After losing his dominant hand he earned, in the World Championship and the Olympic Games, two gold medals for gun shooting with his left-hand. Taking into account the classification of sport disciplines according to their co-ordination complexity, the adaptation in question belongs to the first level, i.e. the easiest one (Farfel, 1960). The example of a more complex modification can be found in case of A.Grubba, top level competitor of the table tennis. It is worth noticing that this naturally left-handed player scored his greatest successes on the international arena while playing with the right hand. He was not forced to the change in the use of his dominant hand. It was rather a result of a coincidence he encountered in his childhood. The effects of this were then strengthened by his sports achievements in a discipline demanding the third and highest level of co-ordination.

 

Figure 7
Fig.7. The right-handed Takacs from Hungary win with the left hand in pistol shooting in the World Championship and the Olympic Games

Stadler and Bucher (1986) refer to another interesting case. They mention a left-handed M.Strupler who had played handball in a first League Swiss team for 15 years (Fig.8). Trying to adjust to his right-handed team colleagues he worked out and perfected the techniques of all game elements using both his hands. In this way he had an advantage over other players as an ambidextrous player is much more dangerous opponent to face. His left-handed throws were not always successful. The reason for that is he practised them less as his coach was not satisfied with this way of throwing. Very often the disagreement broke out between the player and his coach which ended in the coach saying”. If you make a left-handed throw to the net once more you will leave the field” (Fig.9).

 

Figure 8
Fig.8. The left-handed handball player M.Strupler remembered his coach telling him: “If you make a left-handed throw to the net once more, you will leave the field”

 

Figure 9
Fig.9. The left-handed handball player M.Strupler remembered his coach telling him: “If you make a left-handed throw to the net once more, you will leave the field”

The left-handed sportsmen are very often forced to change the dominant hand particularly in asymmetrical sports disciplines (Fig.10). For example, K. Date a left-handed tennis player from Japan who under the pressure of her family has to use the right hand during the play. Moreover, in Japan it is unacceptable, especially, for a woman to be left-handed. It has been noticed that Date takes the racket in the “forbidden” left hand in the most critical situation during a play. Despite the modification imposed on her by the closest environment she has succeeding in becoming one of the leading tennis players in the world (6th place in ATP ranking 1996).

 

Figure Ten
Fig.10. Classification of variants movement symmetry and asymmetry in different sport disciplines [Starosta 1990]

All human movements are adapted to the dominant hand. A higher efficiency level of one upper limb is shifted to the lower limb and limits the direction of turns in sports exercises. The right-handed perform this type of exercise into the left and consider their right leg as dominant (Starosta, 1975; 1990). Only particularly talented people may achieve success in such complex movements involving the whole body. For example, left-handed C. College won the European ice figure skating Championship. However, her further achievements were hindered by her inability to perform jumps with many turns, a complex task in terms of co-ordination. According to her new coach the difficulties stemmed from the fact that she made turns in jumps in the wrong direction. Although she had already held European Championship she had to learn jumps with turns into the right direction. This skaters modified her technical skills twice: in the early stage of her career when she learnt to perform jumps in a way typical of the right handed (turns to the left) and then adapted herself to make the jumps characteristic for the left-handed (turns to the right). In both cases the adaptation was successful. I provided the examples of those sportsmen who were successful in the change of their dominant hand (or the direction) due to different conditions, however, not all individuals show equally positive modifications. Many left-handed people, unable to adjust to the demands of the imposed training system (mainly technical-tactical preparation) intended for the right-handed, give up practising the discipline liked by them or definitely decided against exposing their left-handiness. This problem affects almost all sports disciplines. Nevertheless, it becomes more evident in these disciplines that are concerned with a lateral differentiation in the fitness of the particular parts of the body (limbs) or of the whole body.

Moreover, many publications clearly focus their attention to preoccupied with the problems of the right-handed by helping and suggesting how to defeat the left-handed (Ogurenkow, 1989). I have not come across any such publication that would give similar advice to the left-handed. Thus, it may be considered paradoxical for the members of this social minority to try to win the highest sports awards in various disciplines, for example in boxing and fencing (Fig.11), tennis (Fig.12) and table tennis (Fig.13). Taking into account the opinions of 16 specialists in table tennis I drew up a psychomotor evaluation sheet for a left-handed sportsman who (Fig.14) possess those specific abilities that are respected/and appreciated by
the right-handed. This gives rise to a situation which is conducive to the achievement of sports success by left-handed tennis players.

 

Figure Eleven
Fig.11. Left-handed sportsmen and his achievements in boxing and fencing [Starosta 1991]

 

Figure Twelve
Fig.12. Number of left-handed tennis players among 10 best competitors (according ATP ranking) in different years [Starosta 1991]

 

Figure Thirteen
Fig.13. Number of left-handed table tennis players among 10 world best women and men competitors (according ITTF ranking) in different years n=25 [Starosta, Perek 1991]

 

Figure 14
Fig.14. Technical-tactical and psychological characteristics of the left-handed table tennis players in the opinion of the table tennis specialists [Starosta 1995]

 

The search for more feasible ways of a training for the left-handed.

In view of the facts presented above the important question is: it is possible to consider and include, in the training programme, the aspects of psychomotor differences found in the left-handed people. Definitely “yes”. The problem is still present because the training as intended for the right-handed is not highly effective for the left-handers. The solution to the problem may be fostered by the introduction of a new concept aiming at teaching and improvement sports techniques (Starosta, 1990). The concept assumes movements symmetrization, namely equal efficiency of both sides of the body while maintaining a dominant side of the individual regardless of the sport discipline requirements (symmetrical or asymmetrical). This is a new approach in the movement training theory which offers equal opportunity for both left and right-handed without regard to the range of their technical skills (Fig.15). In addition, greater effectiveness of teaching is ensured due to the wider use of bilateral transfer, namely a more intensive activation of the other hemisphere.

The use of the proposed concept depends on the mode chosen by the trainer. He may employ the mode with a short-term and fragmented symmetrization (see Fig.15 – B). Out of 8 variants presented in the concept, a teacher may choose the one that is the most appropriate for a given sportsman (individualisation). In this way the problem of differences in the teaching of the left-handed can be solved within a training group without additional expense of time and money. The symmetrization of many exercises is not so easy simple especially in case of advanced sportsmen. Each of them possesses a different range of technical skills which should be a starting point for taking up an individualised process of symmetrization. The symmetrization of complex co-ordination movements is particularly difficult and thus it should be taught by those who know and comply with didactic principles as well as are tactful especially in dealing with the left- handed. Only then will the symmetrization of the technique be for a coach and a sportsman an interesting process of improvement a sports techniques and developing a movement co-ordination.

Figure 15
Fig.15. Variants of motor preparation and recommended pedagogical schemes [Starosta 1975]

 

CONCLUSION
1. Left-handed individuals in various countries of the world constitute from 5 to 50% of the whole population. As they usually live in a population of right-handed people, they must become adapted to them. The effects of such an adaptation depend on individual predisposition’s of an individual and on the relation of the others towards left-handed people.

2. Depending on the progress of the adaptation process, its consequences may be different. One of the frequently ascertained types of such adaptation was assimilation of the left-handed with the surrounding population, i.e. changing to right-handedness. As such changes were usually carried out in an atmosphere of psychological pressure and without the necessary knowledge of didactic principles, they caused numerous disturbances in the functioning of the whole organism of a left-handed individual. The consequences of such changing became a significant social problem.

3. Modern civilisation prefers right-handed individuals. Left-handed ones demand a modification of that in such a way which would take into consideration their functional distinct feature and manifestation of more considerable tolerance.

4. The current system of sports training had been prepared for right-handed individuals. This system lacks a suitable programme of teaching or individualisation of training for the left-handed. Therefore, the left-handed must adapt to this system, as they have no other choice.

5. The adaptation of the left-handed to this system of sports training has different types. It happens sometimes that left-handed individuals have the most spectacular sports successes on an international arena while using the right hand (e.g. A.Grubba in table tennis or K.Date in tennis), or thanks to being both-handed (e.g. M.Strupler in handball).

6. The analysis of the progress in sports careers of the best competitors indicated significant difficulties of the left-handed in adapting to schema of training for the right-handed, and simultaneously showed incredible adaptational possibilities of human organism. It also pointed to the existence of unsolved problem of distinct feature of sports training for the left-handed, which, after all, concerns a significant part of the population of the majority of countries in the world.

7. In solving a fragment of this complex problem some help may be attained from the original concept of teaching and improving of the sports technique based on the symmetrization of movements (equalising the fitness of both sides of the body), which enables the maintaining of a dominating side. This is a new solution in the theory of teaching of movements, which establishes equal opportunities to individuals which are left-handed and right-handed, independently of the possessed technical knowledge. It ensures an increased efficiency in teaching thanks to a fuller utilisation of the bilateral transfer.

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