Social Support and Democratic Behavior Styles of Leadership Preferred by Female Athletes in Middle School Athletic Programs

Authors: Raymond Tucker

Corresponding Author:
Raymond Tucker, D.S.M, CSCS, FMSL1, USATFL1, USAWLP-1
Assistant Professor of Kinesiology
University of Houston at Victoria
3007 N. Ben Wilson
Victoria, Texas 77901
Phone: (361)-570-4381

Raymond Tucker is an assistant professor of Kinesiology at the University of Houston at Victoria. He is a graduate of the United States Sports Academy with a Doctorate in Sports Management, and he is a certified strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is also a certified coach by the United States Track and Field Association, United States Weightlifting Federation, and Functional Movement Systems. He is certified by the state board of educator certification in Texas in health grades (EC-12) and secondary physical education (6-12).

Co Authors: Willie J. Black, Jr.

Willie J. Black, Jr., Ed.D.
School Administrator
San Antonio
278 Iron Kettle
Universal City, Texas 78148
Phone: (512)-557-2905

Willie J. Black, Jr. has a Masters of Education in Physical Education and a Bachelor’s in Exercise and Sports Science. He worked for ten years as a personal trainer, certified through the International Sports Science Association, and coached public school athletics at the secondary level for seven years. He also has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, and serves as an adjunct professor for the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas in San Antonio. He is currently an administrator for the Judson Independent School District, and previously served as Director of Human Resources.

Social Support and Democratic Behavior Styles of Leadership Preferred by Female Athletes in Middle School Athletic Programs

The purpose of this study was to determine alleged behavior styles of leadership female student athletes in middle school athletic programs prefer coaches use in the treatment and interactions with their female athletes. This study compared female student athletes’ perception of their coach’s behavior style of leadership at three different middle schools to determine if the perceived behavior style of leadership is comparable amongst female coaches at the respective middle schools in this study.

Results of an earlier study entitled “Preferred Behaviors Used by Coaches in Female Middle School Athletic Programs”, detected a statistically significant difference in the behavior styles of leadership perceived by female student athletes at the respective middle schools in the following dimensions. 1) democratic and training instruction, (2) autocratic and training instruction, (3) social support and training instruction, (4) positive feedback and democratic, (5) positive feedback and autocratic, (6) positive feedback and social support. The results of this study did not detect a statistically significant difference between (1) positive feedback, training instruction, (2) autocratic and democratic, (3) social support and democratic, (4) social support and autocratic. Data composed from this study was based on female student athlete’s perception of the behavior style of leadership used by their coaches. The results revealed a high mean score for the social support behavior style of leadership compared to autocratic, democratic, positive feedback, training instruction. The results of the data in this study can conclude the social support behavior style of leadership is the behavior styles used by coaches at the respective middle schools in this study. However, the data also reveals a high mean score for the democratic behavior style of leadership used by coaches at the respective middle schools for this study. Based on the results of the data for this study, we can conclude the social support and democratic behavior style of leadership are the behavior styles of leadership used by coaches at the respective middle schools in this study. What follows is the basis for this study, procedures used to conduct the research, an analysis of the data, conclusions, application in sport, and finally, recommendations for further research on this topic.

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Preferred Behaviors Used by Coaches in Female Middle School Athletic Programs

Authors: Raymond Tucker

Corresponding Author:
Raymond Tucker, D.S.M, CSCS, FMSL1, USATFL1, USAWLP-1
Assistant Professor of Kinesiology
University of Houston at Victoria
3007 N. Ben Wilson
Victoria, Texas 77901
Phone: (361)-570-4381

Raymond Tucker is an assistant professor of Kinesiology at the University of Houston at Victoria. He is a graduate of the United States Sports Academy with a Doctorate in Sports Management, and he is a certified strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is also a certified coach by the United States Track and Field Association, United States Weightlifting Federation, and Functional Movement Systems. He is certified by the state board of educator certification in Texas in health grades (EC-12) and secondary physical education (6-12).

Preferred Behaviors Used by Coaches in Female Middle School Athletic Programs

The purpose of this study was to determine female athlete’s perception of the behavior styles of leadership used by their coaches in female middle school athletic programs. The average of these perceptions can be viewed as the actual behavior style of leadership coaches used in the treatment of their athletes. The study compared behavior styles of leadership used by coaches in female middle school athletic programs at three different middle schools. This study also compares coaches from the three different middle schools to determine if the behavior styles of leadership used are similar amongst coaches.

Data for this study was collected using the Leadership Scale of Sports (LSS) questionnaire with the permission of Dr. Packianthan Chelladurai Ph.D at Ohio State University. The questionnaire measures an athlete’s perception of their coach’s behavior style of leadership and consists of forty items that all begin with “My Coach.” These forty items represent five dimensions of leadership behavior in sports and operationally defined in the Leadership Scale of Sports.

The scoring of the Leadership Scale of Sports questionnaire was based on an ordinal scale, five-category scale that consists of a numerical number: 1. Always; 2. Often (about 75 % of the time); 3. Occasionally (50% of the time); 4. Seldom (about 25% of the time); 5 Never. Each of the forty items on the Leadership Scale of Sports questionnaire represents one of the five latent dimensions of leadership (2). These five dimensions were
1. Autocratic Behavior
2. Democratic Behavior
3. Positive Feedback
4. Social Support Behavior
5. Training and Instruction

The athletic coordinators of each school were each given instructions in person prior to the questionnaire being mailed. The questionnaires were sent back in a self- addressed stamped envelope. Athletic coordinators at the respective middle schools received communication in person, phone, and e-mail. The data was analyzed quantitatively by using the 15.0 version of the SPSS statistical software. Due to the ordinal and theoretically categorical nature of the LSS scale, nonparametric statistical methods (i.e., a test of medians rather than means) was used in all data analyses. Specially, the Mann-Whitney U, Kruskal-Wallis, and multi-way contingency table (log-linear) nonparametric ANOVA tests was used. To what degree was there a difference among the distribution of LSS scores on the five dimensions for eighth grade females in middle school sports? To answer this question, the Kruskal-Wallis nonparametric alternative to the parametric analysis of variance (ANOVA) was employed. If a statistically significant finding was observed, post-hoc analyses was conducted to determine what leadership behaviors were preferred based on median scores.

Results of this study did detect a statistically significant difference in the behavior styles of leadership used by coaches among the middle schools between the following dimensions: (1) democratic behavior and training and instruction, (2) autocratic behavior and training and instruction, (3) social support and training and instruction, (4) positive feedback and democratic behavior, (5) positive feedback and autocratic behavior, (6) positive feedback and social support. Results of this study indicate coaches at the three respective middle school in this study place more emphasis on the social support, democratic and autocratic behavior styles of leadership. This study does not determine which behavior style of leadership is superior for the overall success of a female’s middle school athletic program. What follows is the basis for this study, procedures used to conduct the research, an analysis of the data, conclusions, and finally, recommendations for further research on this topic.

Keywords: Coaches, Coaching Climate, Effective Leadership, Female Athletes, Sports

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A History of Women in Sport Prior to Title IX


Women’s opportunities for competitive physical activity were limited in America until Federal Legislation, commonly referred to as Title IX, became law. It required American society to recognize a woman’s right to participate in sports on a plane equal to that of men. Prior to 1870, activities for women were recreational rather than sport-specific in nature. They were noncompetitive, informal, rule-less; they emphasized physical activity rather than competition. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, women began to form clubs that were athletic in nature. Efforts to limit women’s sport activity continued as they became more involved in competitive sports. This paper will present a history of women’s involvement in sport prior to the federal legislation enacted to eliminate sexual discrimination in education and sport.

Early Women’s Sports

Certainly, women engaged in sport three millennia ago. Homer, c 800 B.C., relates the story of Princess Nausicaa playing ball with her handmaidens next to a riverbank on the island of Scheria. “When she and her handmaids were satisfied with their delightful food, each set aside the veil she wore: the young girls now played ball; and as they tossed the ball…” (Homer, lines 98-102). Odysseus was awakened by the shouts of the girls engaged in their sport. Thousands of years later, the shouts of girls playing ball finally awoke the United States to the need for sport-specific opportunities for women.

Prior to 1870, sports for women existed in the form of play activities that were recreational rather than competitive and, being informal and without rules, emphasized physical activity (Gerber, Felshin, Berlin, & Wyrick, 1974). A dominant belief in the 1800s was that each human had a fixed amount of energy. If this energy were used for physical and intellectual tasks at the same time, it could be hazardous (Park & Hult, 1993). Horseback riding for pleasure, showboating, and swimming became fashionable, but women were not encouraged to exert themselves. Such physical activity for a woman was thought to be especially hazardous because during menstruation she was “periodically weakened” (Clarke, 1874, p. 100). In 1874, as women were beginning to gain access to higher education, Dr. Edward Clarke published Sex in Education; or, A Fair Chance for Girls, which sparked a tenacious and acrimonious debate about the capacity of women for physical activity. He stated that, “both muscular and brain labor must be reduced at the onset of menstruation” ( p. 102). Manipulating science to reinforce established dogma prevailed for many years in spite of repeated examples of women who were perfectly capable of performing physical feats and intellectual tasks. Many early opportunities for women to engage in physical activity were thwarted as a result of this dogma (Park & Hult).

As more women sought to become involved in physical activity, they became more competitive. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, women began to form informal athletic clubs. Tennis, croquet, bowling, and archery were popular in clubs from New York to New Orleans. Many men’s clubs allowed women to become associates and to participate in separate activities, though without according them full status. Parallel clubs in colleges began to appear during this time, but a major difference between the social metropolitan clubs and the college clubs was that the latter frequently sponsored coed competition as occasions for social gatherings (Gerber, et al., 1974).

College Sports for Women Prior to Title IX

Early college sports for women have been largely unrecognized by historians because competition was within college between students (intramural) rather than between the institutions (extramural). Competitions included intramural, club, and sorority matches, in addition to ‘play days’. These were special dates when women competed in sports and activities against students and teams from their schools. By 1936, 70% of colleges surveyed used this as a predominant form of sport participation for women (Hult, 1994).

Women’s physical educators were aware of the problems and criticism surrounding men’s intercollegiate athletics. They were determined to keep athletics in an educational environment for women. In the early 1900s, the Committee on Women’s Athletics (CWA) and the American Physical Education Association (APEA) endorsed programs of broad participation for women (Park & Hult, 1993). This occurred just as the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching produced its 1929 report, American College Athletics, reporting that amateurism was being eliminated or modified from athletics at the college level as colleges turned athletics into big business. The report argued that there should be a way to give “athletics back to the boys” (Thelin, 1994). These views were uppermost in the minds of many women’s physical educators as they met to organize a governing organization for women’s sports. In the 1920s, the Women’s Division-National Amateur Athletic Federation (NAAF) was formed to organize intercollegiate competition among women (Park & Hult).

Women were not active in intercollegiate sport until basketball was introduced at Smith College in 1892 (Gerber, et al., 1974). Basketball quickly spread to other colleges, and students began to clamor for intercollegiate play. Women’s physical educators opposed such competition because they were not ready to lose control over their programs (as they perceived the men had) (Gerber, et al.). The first intercollegiate competition among women was a scheduled tennis tournament between Bryn Mawr and Vassar. It was canceled because the Vassar faculty did not allow their women’s athletes to participate in competition between colleges (Hult, 1994). The honor of being the first teams to compete in women’s intercollegiate athletics belongs to the basketball teams of the University of California, Berkeley vs. Stanford and the University of Washington vs. Ellensburg Normal School; they played in 1896 (Gerber, et al.).

Competitive events for college women increased in the early 1900s. The nature of varsity competition was in conflict with the philosophy of women’s physical educators in the 1920s and 1930s, so these events were still uncommon. This philosophical conflict contributed to a lack of support for women’s varsity athletics. The NAAF provided a forum for women’s physical educators and leaders of women’s sports to formalize their beliefs regarding competition for girls and women by issuing a policy statement of the organizations goals for women. The goals were established to “play for play’s sake,” limit awards and travel, protect the participant from exploitation, discourage “sensational” publicity, and place qualified women in immediate charge of athletics and other physical activities (Gerber, et al., 1974). The motto was “every girl in a sport and a sport for every girl.” This position was interpreted by many as negative to competition and, as a consequence, virtually all forms of competitive sport for college women decreased in the early 1900s (Gerber, et al.).

The women’s suffrage movement in the late nineteenth and twentieth century resulted in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. The right to vote for women renewed emphasis on women’s freedoms. The first feminist movement resulted in modest gains for women in sports and intercollegiate competition, but these gains were negated by the depression in the 1930s. They would remain dormant for almost fifty years (Gelb & Palley, 1987). The depression left millions of Americans out of work, and the resulting campaign to keep women home and out of the work force left the women’s movement for broadened equal rights stagnating. The expectations of society were that a woman’s place was ‘in the home,’ which pushed aside the idea that there were psychological and physiological benefits to be gained from involvement in sport. This view remained largely unchanged until the events of the 1940s (Lucas & Smith, 1982).

The 1940s brought war to the United States and millions of men entered the military. Many women joined the military service or left their positions as homemakers to fill the void left in the work force, earning the moniker, “Rosie the Riveter.” They demonstrated that they were equal to the task. The self-esteem and self-confidence gained by women during these critical times propelled the movement for women’s equal rights. Many women believed that if they could compete successfully in the work force, then they could certainly compete on the athletic fields (Chafe, 1972). World War II also saw the advent of the first woman’s professional athletic team. The All-American Girls Baseball League was started in 1943 as an attempt to replace Major League Baseball, which had been canceled due to the war. When World War II ended, organizations for women in sport began to increase as sport became more competitive and intercollegiate and interscholastic competition spread (Gerber, et al., 1974).

In the 1950s and 1960s, the social conscience of America was changing. The push for Civil Rights, which culminated in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, helped increase the status of women and minorities. A wave of feminist activism was born (Gelb & Palley, 1996). Feminist activism propelled the movement for women’s rights forward. The United States became embroiled in the debate for an Equal Rights Amendment. This debate raised the consciousness of those involved in women’s sport. Collegiate women seeking greater athletic opportunities moved closer to their goals in 1957, when the long-entrenched official position statement of the Division for Girls and Women in Sport (DGWS) was amended to state that intercollegiate programs “may” exist. In 1963, the DGWS view of women in sport evolved further to state that it was “desirable” that intercollegiate programs for women exist (Gerber, et al., 1974).

In 1966, the DGWS appointed a Commission on Intercollegiate Sports for Women (CISW) to assist in conducting intercollegiate competitions. In 1967, it was renamed the Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (CIAW). The women’s movement in sport was rapidly moving toward a status more in line with men’s athletics. In 1969, a schedule of national championships for women’s sports was announced that included gymnastics and track and field. Swimming, badminton, and volleyball followed in 1970 and in 1972, basketball was added. Women wanted an institutional membership organization similar to the NCAA. The CIAW was replaced by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) in 1971. This set the stage for the struggle to control women’s athletics in the 1970s between the AIAW and the NCAA (Gerber, et al., 1974).

The increasingly positive attitude toward women in sport carried over into the 1970s (Hult, 1994). The AIAW began the 1971-1972 academic year with 278 charter institutions. By 1981, their membership exceeded 800. Their mission was to “lead and conduct” programs at the collegiate level that were competitive for women (Hulstrand, 1993). The AIWA focused on the female student-athlete’s education, not on athletic performance, and thus rejected the ‘win or die’ attitude of the NCAA. Instead, the AIAW emphasized participation in sport as the most important aspect and de-emphasized winning (Sperber, 1990).

The Evolution of Title IX

The new wave of feminism within the larger social reforms sought by the Civil Rights movement moved women closer to legislative action for greater equal treatment in athletics. The concept that federal legislation was to eliminate sexual discrimination was the main focus of women’s groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At their first national conference in 1967, the National Organization for Women (NOW) adopted a platform that read in part “…the right of women to be educated to their full potential equally with men be secured by Federal and State legislation” (Boles, 1989, p.643).

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was paid little attention in the early legislative efforts to codify these rights. Court-ordered busing in the other Titles of the Omnibus Education Amendments took the spotlight (Palley & Preston, 1978). It was only after Title IX was passed, when the question surrounding implementation arose, that opposition to Title IX took place (Gelb & Palley, 1987). After the passage of Title IX, Congress built in a six-year period for secondary and post-secondary schools to achieve compliance. The date for compliance by colleges and universities was 1978. Interpretation and enforcement were vested in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (Carpenter, 1993).

The critical element lacking after the passage of Title IX was the implementation legislation that would specify how it was to be applied and to whom. Passage of the implementation legislation was not easy; many self-interest groups sought to erode the legislation. In 1974, approximately sixty women’s and feminist groups formed a coalition called the Education Task Force (which would later becme the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education) (Gelb & Palley). It was largely as a result of their persistent and dedicated efforts through lobbying that Title IX was successful.

The NCAA became concerned by what it perceived to be the potential weakening of its position as the dominant and controlling body of intercollegiate athletics. If Title IX was to apply to intercollegiate sports at all levels and women were to be elevated to a status equal to the men, its financial assets and political power were threatened. The first approach of the NCAA, when faced with the threat of equality in intercollegiate athletics, was to attempt to limit Title IX’s application. The NCAA tried to offer its interpretation of Title IX (Acosta & Carpenter, 1985). It encouraged a narrow interpretation of the law, excluding athletic departments from the scope of Title IX. The NCAA argued that because athletic departments did not receive federal funds, they should be excluded from compliance. Nonetheless, when the NCAA sought to limit the application of Title IX, it began to address the issue of control of women’s athletics in earnest.

The NCAA observed the growth of women’s athletics and looked to the increased financial base and political power to be gained from exerting control over women’s intercollegiate athletics. It set out to force the AIAW out of control (Hult, 1994). The strategy was to absorb the AIAW into its current structure while offering women’s championships outside the AIAW to effectively link schools to the NCAA. Because there was no alternative mechanism for determining college-level champions, this strategy could have been successful (Stern, 1979). The NCAA decided to form its own NCAA Women’s Committee and exclude the AIAW (Carpenter, 1993). The NCAA had never shown an interest in women’s athletics before Title IX because there was nothing that required female participation at a national level. Thus, it chose not to pursue women’s athletics. “The formation of this committee was politically significant because prior to this time the NCAA had demonstrated no interest whatever in taking responsibility for women’s sports” (Carpenter, 1993, p. 83).

In the fall of 1974, the NCAA agreed to a meeting with the AIAW. The NCAA wanted the AIAW to affiliate itself with the NCAA; the AIAW hoped to form a joint committee to draw up rules. The NCAA did not consider the AIAW its equal and it would not agree to a 50-50 joint union and equal representation at all policy-making levels (Festle, 1996).

At its 1973 convention, the NCAA waived the regulation barring women from men’s events, thinking that the compromise of allowing a token female to compete in the NCAA championships would help avoid charges of sex discrimination and help avoid offending the AIAW while avoiding any real commitment to women’s athletics (Festle, 1996). The NCAA continued to be concerned about the loss of power and control over intercollegiate athletics as it began to sense that the idea of equal opportunity for women in intercollegiate athletics was the direct aim of the Federal Government. The NCAA needed to implement an acceptable policy without delay (Festle).

The NCAA was a powerful adversary for the AIAW because of its wealth, political influence, and long history. The NCAA decided to introduce women’s championships for intercollegiate sports by offering the institutions sponsoring women’s sports a proposition that ultimately led to the demise of the AIAW. The NCAA offered to: (a) pay all expenses for teams competing in a national championship, (b) charge no additional membership fees for schools to add women’s programs, (c) create financial aid, recruitment, and eligibility rules that were the same for women as for men, and finally, (d) guarantee women more television coverage. The NCAA had earmarked three million dollars to support women’s championships. The AIAW could not compete with the NCAA inducements and the loss of membership, income, championship sponsorship, and media rights forced the AIAW to cease operations on June 30, 1982 (Festle, 1996). The AIAW sued the NCAA for allegedly violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, but was unsuccessful when the courts ruled that the market for women’s athletics was open for competition, therefore no anti-trust laws had been violated (Schubert, Schubert, & Schubert-Madsen, 1991).

Subsequent to Title IX, women and girls have become much more involved in sports. College women’s athletic participation has increased from 15% in 1972 to 43% in 2001. High school girl’s athletic participation increased from 295,000 in 1971 to 2.8 million in 2002-2003, an increase of over 840%. In 2004, the average number of teams offered for females per college/university was 8.32, up from 2.50 per school in 1972 (Carpenter & Acosta, 2005). In 1981-82, women’s championships became a part of the NCAA program. Today, the NCAA sponsors forty women’s championships, thirty-eight men’s championships, and three combined championships in all three of its divisions (NCAA, 2005).

It can be seen that women’s involvement in sport was slow to develop. Opportunities for participation and recognition were almost non-existent for centuries. It was not until the advent of the equal rights movements and Title IX that women truly found a place as participants in the world of sport and in the public arena.


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Carpenter, L.J. (1993). Letters home: My life with Title IX. In G.L. Cohen (Ed). Women in Sport: Issues and Controversies. (pp 133-155), Newberry Park, CA.: Sage Publishing.

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Chafe, W.H. (1972). The American woman: Her changing social, economic and political roles, 1920-1970. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Festle, M.J. (1996). Playing nice: Politics and apologies in women’s sports. New York: Columbia University Press.

Gelb, J., & Palley, M.L. (1996). Title IX: The politics of sex discrimination. Women and Public Policies: reassessing gender politics. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

Gerber, E.W., Felshin, J., Berlin, P., & Wyrick, W. (Eds.). (1974). The American woman in sport. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

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Lucas, J.A., & Smith, R.A. (1982). Women’s sport: A trial of equality. In R. Howell (Ed.), Her Story in Sport: A Historical Anthology of Women in Sports (pp. 239-265). West Point, NY: Leisure Press.

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Non-Economic Societal Impacts of Intercollegiate Athletics


Intercollegiate athletics impact society in numerous positive ways. A number of studies have been done seeking to establish the effects of these sports programs on athletes, their institutions, and society at large. This paper is a synthesis of the literature concerning the non-economic impacts of sports. The findings largely support the notion that athletics are beneficial, not only to athletes, but to society in general. Many important lessons and virtues are derived from athletics. Among the many benefits to higher education institutions are the concepts of attracting more admissions applications and enhancing institutional name recognition and visibility.


Athletics provide entertainment, physical development, social interaction, and business (Cigliano, 2006). They create platforms for individual recognition and institutional visibility. There are many positive externalities associated with athletic activities. Attaching monetary value to these effects is difficult, as the value is based on societal satisfaction measures that are hard to measure.

Athletics Mould Virtues

Athletics help shape the social character of participants (Rudd and Stoll, 2004). A sample of 595 students from several universities was used in a causal-comparative study in which athletes and non athletes were compared concerning social and moral character. There were significant differences between athletes and non athletes. The main conclusion was that sport helps build character in terms of teamwork, loyalty, and self-sacrifice. There is no evidence to support the idea that athletics help build moral character, though neither is it proven that they do not do so.

Yiannakis, Douvis, and Murdy (2003) studied the perceived economic and non-economic impacts of sports. The findings are based on a survey of 702 residents and students of Connecticut attending two universities. They measured the perceived impacts of sports in terms of job creation, infrastructure, image promotion, economic impacts, environmental impacts, crime, and deviancy, among others. The authors conjectured that conflicts, issues, ideologies, pain, success, and tragedy are all blended in sports. People identify with these and are able to better handle the challenges of life as they see teams fighting on the field of play.

Athletes learn the principles of self discipline, teamwork, winning and losing, hard work, and self confidence. They have their self esteem boosted (National Federation of High Schools, 2003). One athletics director at a community college within the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) said, “Athletics fulfill major commitments of our mission statement to educate the whole person, to develop teamwork and leaders, and to contribute to the personal health and well-being of our students” (Cigliano, 2006, p45).

Yiannakis et al. (2003) established that the perceptions of people regarding the positive impacts of sport differed based on whether one was a fan or not. Non fans tend to regard sports as a nuisance that causes traffic jams and pollution. Enthusiasts savor the joy brought by the victories of their teams. A relationship may exist between the degree of interest and the extent to which sports are perceived to be beneficial.

Cigliano’s (2006) qualitative study was done at two community colleges in the TBR to examine the economic, institutional, and human impacts of athletic programs. The participants from each college included the president, the athletics director, two coaches, and four student-athletes. Coaches from the colleges said they viewed athletics as vehicles that help some students stay in school. The discipline and structure in athletic programs help motivate student-athletes to take advantage of educational opportunities. The coaches spoke of employing discipline, monitoring class and study hall attendance, and using encouragement to motivate student-athletes to achieve academic goals and become academically successful. Indirectly, the study addressed the apparent conflict of goals between academic interests and athletics. As long as there is a good relationship between the sports departments and academics, goal conflict exists only as an abstract concept.

Student-athletes participating in Cigliano’s (2006) study stated the following as virtues they received: recognition, patience, becoming better persons, self-discipline, maturity, motivation, teamwork, knowing people better, working hard, perseverance, working together, self-confidence, and leadership. The presidents, athletic directors, and coaches identified leadership development, a sense of civic responsibility, loyalty, punctuality, team work, cooperation, winning and losing with class and dignity, being competitive, developing individual strengths and skills, getting along with people, obedience, discipline, learning to make independent decisions, adjusting to being on their own, and maturity as virtues learned from athletics.

In the words of one athlete:

As much as we have to be physically in shape…we definitely also need an attitude which enhances our performance. This…(is)…an inner attitude of confidence in your ability, determination to see what you can do, and delight in what may be possible. The positive vibes that surround a person with an attitude like this can spread (Depew1 , 1999).

The NFHS (2003) reported that sport promotes citizenship and sportsmanship by instilling a sense of pride in community, teaching lessons of teamwork and self-discipline, and facilitating the physical and emotional development of participants.

Bailey, Moulton, and Moulton (1999) compared athletes and non-athletes concerning levels of self-esteem and approval motivation. A sample of 492 university undergraduates participated in this study; ninety-four were athletes. The study used a multivariate analysis of variance to determine whether there was a significant difference between athletes and non-athletes on the variables of self-esteem and approval motivation. Athletes had significantly higher levels of self-esteem than non-athletes. There was also a statistically significant difference on approval motivation. Thus, athletes are “more likely to view themselves positively…and are less likely to engage in approval seeking behavior than non-athletes” (Bailey, Moulton, & Moulton, 1999).

The ability of physical exercise to eliminate anxiety in university youth was investigated by Akandere and Tekin (2002). The sample was comprised of 311 students from Konya Selcuk University of Turkey who had never been involved in physical exercise. A sub-sample of sixty students who had the highest anxiety scores was split in half, so that thirty became the experimental group (which participated in organized physical activity) and the other thirty became the control group. Participation in physical exercise and physical activities decreased the anxiety level of both sexes.

Basking in Reflected Glory

Athletic activities relax the mind and “function as psychological and spiritual havens where disorder and moral ambiguities are resolved and managed through communal sport ritual practices and traditions” (Yiannakis et al., 2003, p.5). One of the perceived impacts lies in a concept called ‘Basking in Reflected Glory’ (BIRG). In Yiannakis et al.’s study, a majority of the respondents reported feeling ‘really good’ when their teams won and feeling ‘really bad’ when their teams lost. However, the relationship between sport-induced mood states, social identity, empowerment, and pro-social behavior is not fully understood and may require further inquiry.

One of the most popular studies on ‘BIRG’ was done by Cialdini et al. (1976)2. College students were found to be more likely to use the pronoun ‘we’ and to wear clothing that identified with their schools after a successful athletic weekend than during times when they had drawn or lost. Cialdini posited that people had a predisposition to associate with positive outcomes and make them their own. When one is ‘BIRG’, the person on the receiving end would not have done anything to bring the team’s success. Theirs is just to bask in unearned grandeur. When one’s team does well, it results in feelings of happiness, well-being, and collective euphoria. It has also been suggested that ‘BIRG’ improves mood in both individuals and communities.

On the flip side of the concept of ‘BIRG’ is ‘Cutting-Off Reflected Failure’ (CORF). The main ‘CORF’ strategy is to minimize the association between oneself and the losing team via several means, including by refusing to attend the teams’ matches’ and using terms such as ‘they’ rather than ‘we’. ‘CORF’ can be said to have somewhat positive results. The pessimism that precedes crucial matches can have the positive impact of uniting fans in the face of the possibility that it can all go wrong. Such an acceptance of a possible negative outcome can have the effect of protecting fans against disappointment as a result of failure. Having a shared moan can be a way of bonding3.

Reputation and Institutional Image

The reputation of an academic institution is closely tied to its sports programs (Cigliano, 2006; Pulsinelli et al, 1989). Thrilling performances by teams score points for the institution. High ranking sporting colleges are also ranked high in the academic arena.

The majority of respondents from Cigliano’s (2006) study mentioned a variety of values of publicity that athletic programs brought to the colleges, including a sense of excitement, activity, focus, free advertising, media coverage, service area communication, recruitment enhancement, and identity for local support to the institutions. The institutional image generated was said to be very positive. Good coverage amounted to free advertising. One of the presidents commented that:

Whether it is right or wrong, many people out in the community do not see anything in your college other than athletics. I mean, you have a certain constituent group out there that will even evaluate your college on how your athletic program is and people read about athletics in the paper. (Cigliano, p62).

In the study, athletic directors noted that visibility of their colleges was due more to athletics than any other department. They pointed out that institutional recognition is a function of the athletics program.

In a 2004 study, Frank mentioned the effect that spending on big time sports has on a university’s name recognition. Because these institutions are constantly making headlines in the public media, their names become more familiar to prospective students than those which are not publicized. This is likely to influence them in the college decision-making process. In such instances, “a big-time athletic program serves much like a national advertising campaign” (Frank, p15).

While athletes are students, they are also considered role models by their fans. People identify with role models on the sports field (Yiannakis et al., 2003). James Sheridan, a cross country athlete at Kenyon College, said, “athletes represent (their institutions) across the country and the type of attitude (they) project reflects on (the) entire learning institution” (Depew, 1999).


Athletics have a positive effect on enrollment. Pulsinelli, Borland, & Goff (1989) postulated that in order for sporting teams to be self financing, athletic teams would have to ‘attract’ a certain number of non-athletic students to the university. Enrollment data for the years 1960 to 1988 were analyzed with winning percentages for football and basketball. Overall, high sporting performance was associated with increased enrollment. This study alluded to the fact that recruiting high profile athletes might increase enrollment because of the indirect ‘attracting influence’ exerted on non-athlete aspiring students. When choosing among schools that offer athletic programs, non athletes prefer schools that have winning records to those that do not.

An impact study of Nichols State University (NSU) by Coats and Cox (2004), found that athletics have an effect on enrollment apart from the economic impact. Nicholls State’s athletic programs directly supported 239 student athletes. It was estimated that these student athletes drew an additional forty-three friends or relatives to NSU. Furthermore, of the 105 members of the marching band, approximately a third would have enrolled elsewhere were it not for the existence of the athletics program. Thus, the NSU athletics and associated programs were directly responsible for attracting 322 students to NSU. These students, in turn, supported approximately fourteen faculty positions.

Toma and Cross (1996) examined undergraduate admissions applications for institutions that won the NCAA Division I-A national football championship and those that won the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the years 1979 through 1992. Increases were recorded in undergraduate admissions applications in years following a championship season. Fourteen out of sixteen schools that won or shared championships in football recorded increases in the number of applications. In basketball, ten out of thirteen schools recorded increases in applications following the NCAA Tournament championship.

Frank (2004) analyzed the effects of successful athletic programs on soliciting additional applications and donations by alumni and others. He postulated that universities continue to expand expenditures when they may fail to cover direct costs because the athletic programs may generate indirect benefits in other domains of sufficient value to make up the shortfall. The study stated that, “If students are indeed more likely to apply to an institution with a successful athletic program…such schools will be more selective than others on…the average SAT scores of entering freshmen.” McCormick and Tinsley (1987) validated this by asserting that freshmen entering a school would have an average SAT score about thirty-three points higher than it would if it did not have a big-time athletic program. They estimated a multiple regression in which the average SAT score was dependent on several variables, including whether the school had a thriving athletics program. Their data came from about 150 schools for the year 1971, sixty-three of which had big time athletic programs.

The opportunity to participate in athletics is a primary consideration for students (Cigliano, 2006). One community college president stated that the athletic program attracted between eighty to one-hundred students who would not be attending college if the athletic program were not available for them. Another said that sports had a significant impact on enrollment because of the influence athletes had in attracting girlfriends, friends, and peers.

Academic Performance

Student athletes in Colorado were shown to have ‘significantly higher’ grade-point averages than their non-sporting counterparts (NHFS, 2003). Those in Jefferson County high schools were also shown to have higher grade-point averages than their non-sporting peers. The latter school district has matched the academic success of its students with success on the playing field (NHFS, 2003).

Schildnecht (2002) quoted studies by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, the Colorado Department of Education, and the American College testing services to show that students who participated in sports performed better academically. Student athletes were also found to be more likely to graduate than their non-athletic counterparts.

In one study, which goes against the idea of athletics having a positive relationship with graduation rates, Mangold, Bean, and Adams (2003) explored the impact that athletic programs have on institutional graduation rates. Data on graduation rates for ninety-seven universities competing in NCAA Division IA basketball and football were regressed on several predictors. The results of the study did not support the hypothesis that colleges with successful sports programs would have higher graduation rates for students in general. On smaller campuses, involvement in a successful sports program was suggested to conflict with academic goals. This study provides an example of the post hoc fallacy. There’s probably some third variable that explains this negative relationship.

Lucas and Lovaglia (2002) found that non athletic scholars anticipated higher benefits from academic success than athletes. Their study, for which the sample was 135 students (of which thirty-three were athletes), sought to measure the perceptions of student athletes and non athletes regarding cost, benefit, and motivation towards academic success. They reported that student athletes had a lower motivation to perform academically than non athletes. This does not, however, necessarily support the notion that athletes struggle academically as compared to non athletes, as the authors suggested.

A study was done by Meier, Robinson, Polinard, and Wrinkle (2000) to see if pursuit of athletic goals had a negative impact on academic interests of universities as reflected by scores on the SAT and ACT. The data for the analysis came from Texas school districts for the years 1997-1998. Athletic budgets were found to have no relationship with school attendance. However, the study concluded that athletic budgets had a significant negative relationship with academic performance, although the statistical significance of the variables is unknown. The study acknowledges that there are positive benefits at the individual level. Whatever these impacts may be, it is tempting to suggest that these individual benefits, across the district, could collectively override the negative results of athletics across academic institutions.


Having reviewed literature pertaining to alumni donations, Frank (2004) concluded that there is evidence that links athletic success to alumni giving. Rhoads and Gerking (2000) also analyzed the role of success in intercollegiate football and basketball in attracting donations to universities from alumni and other sources. Results from regression analysis of panel data from eighty-seven universities showed that, year to year, changes in athletic success had a positive impact on alumni giving. Other donors were not as responsive. Longstanding athletic traditions were shown to attract charitable donations.

Clotfelter cited participation in extracurricular activities and athletics as one of the factors that affected alumni giving (2001). The study utilized a data set of graduates from fourteen private institutions and sought to establish factors associated with alumni donations. The data covered cohorts of individuals who entered the institutions in the fall of 1951, 1976, and 1989. The findings showed that over half of all donations were given by only 1% of all alumni, most of whom contribute annually.

In a 2000 study of 2,822 Vanderbilt University graduates, Dugan, Mullin, and Siegfried investigated alumni giving behavior during the eight years following their graduation. A probit model and a regression were run on the data of givers and non givers. Participation in athletics was found to generate a stronger sense of attachment to the university through group membership, a factor which would have a positive effect on giving. In addition, former athletes receive solicitations from special clubs of former athletes apart from the usual appeal for alumni contributions. For that reason, they are expected to contribute more than other graduates. Students who were members of athletic teams responded more favorably to requests for donations after graduation.

A Chance to Continue in Sport and Education

The awarding of scholarships to athletes affords the chance to further academic interests (Schildnecht, 2002). Athletic directors in Cigliano’s (2006) study expressed that athletics, “provides education for a group of people who might not be able to have an education.” Dropping athletic programs from state universities and community colleges would have the undesirable effect of removing opportunities for many student-athletes to follow their career goals and obtain an education while pursuing future success in athletics. For most, this will be the peak time of their sporting careers. Few venture into professional sports after college.

Negative Effects

A few issues can be raised concerning the negative effects of participation in college sports. Athletics consume time. Often, the athlete has to cope with the stress of attending to sporting obligations while fulfilling academic requirements. They have to submit assignments at the same time as every other student. For those who are not on scholarship, their families have to bear the increased burden of giving them pocket money, since they cannot manage jobs to supplement their incomes.

Stieber (1991) mentions the presence of a black market for athletes. In this situation, a supply and demand for cheaters exists coordinated by national sports bodies. The student athlete is generally discriminated against. The market for athletes is not a free market. It is, in reality, a monopoly. The buying cartel “exploits by eliminating the bidding process among its membership” (Stieber, 1991, p446). The resulting wage is lower for the athlete than what would be obtained in an uncontrolled market. The authors of this paper believe that Stieber’s argument would only hold for the very top tier of institutions, which have major revenue streams associated with football and basketball. For the other non-football and basketball athletes in those institutions and for the athletes in the rest of higher education, a full or partial scholarship may be more than the free market would generate.

Colleges have difficulty recruiting students who are good athletes and academically talented. Cigliano (2006) mentioned an apparent lack of preparation for college work for some of the student-athletes. However, this applied for the rest of the student body as well. Thus, it is not specific to student athletes.

Yiannakis et al. (2003) stated that sports were perceived to increase pollution by 62% of the respondents. Also, crime, gambling, alcohol abuse, and other illegal activities were viewed as increasing by up to 45%. Vandalism, assaults, and drug abuse were also feared to be increasing. There is a need, however, to establish the extent to which particular sports programs have a negative impact on a particular environmental setting.


Athletics are beneficial to student athletes, to universities, and to society at large. Research points almost incontrovertibly towards the advantages associated with intercollegiate sports. National bodies responsible for sports are generally pleased with the results that athletics yield and would not support plans to reduce support for sports. However, athletes have to work under stressful conditions because of tight schedules and the demanding nature of their work. In some cases, student athletes are exploited by unscrupulous individuals and sports organizations. Ultimately, though, the benefits of athletics outweigh the disadvantages, albeit they are difficult to quantify.


1 Gelsey Lynn, a cross country runner, as quoted by Depew, R (1999).

2 As cited by Posten, M. (1998).

3 The Mental Health Foundation: Football and Mental Health (n.d)


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Acclimatization in High-Altitude Sport: Predictive Modeling of Oxygen Saturation as an Expedition Management Tool


A management perspective is taken in developing a predictive model to forecast blood oxygen saturation levels for trekkers and mountaineers ascending to high altitudes. Blood oxygen saturation is an important indicator of risk of acute mountain sickness and other potentially lethal health risks for high-altitude athletes. This model is based on data collected from a seventeen-person expedition to Mt. Everest. The results of the model are compared to actual saturation levels and the model is found to be a good predictor. The practical implication is that an oximeter and the results it produces are useful tools for expedition managers and base camp managers charged with the safety of a multi-person expedition.

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