Relations between Role Ambiguity and Athletes’ Satisfaction among Team Handball Players


This study examined the relationship between role ambiguity and athlete satisfaction among team handball players. The sample consisted of 169 Greek team handball players, 53 (33%) men and 116 (67%) women, with a mean age of 16.5 years (SD=1.3). The Role Ambiguity Scale and the Scale of Athlete Satisfaction were used. The results indicated a negative relationship between Role Ambiguity and Athlete Satisfaction. Additionally, role ambiguity, as represented by the subscale of Scope of Responsibilities, accounted for most of the variance in both regression analyses. Finally, the multidimensional role of Role Ambiguity was shown. The results are discussed and future research is suggested.

Review of Literature

The literature has defined role ambiguity as the lack of clear, consistent information that is associated with a person’s position (Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal, 1964). It has also provided a theoretical model in which role ambiguity had two dimensions: (a) task ambiguity, related to performance aspects of one’s responsibilities, and (b) socio-emotional ambiguity, regarding the psychological consequences and discomfort an individual might experience while failing to fulfil role responsibilities.

Behrman and Perreault (1984) supported the idea that role conflict and role ambiguity were related negatively to job satisfaction. Schuller, Aldag, and Brief, (1977), evaluating the affect of role conflict and role ambiguity, concluded that they were associated with low satisfaction, absenteeism, low involvement, and tension at the work place. Beehr, Walsh, and Taber, (1976) found that role stress was related to dissatisfaction with work. Finally, Boles and Babin (1996) suggested that increased role conflict and role ambiguity diminished job satisfaction among customer service employees.

Role ambiguity is important in productivity and performance in business and industry. A meta-analysis by Jackson and Schuler (1985) found that greater role ambiguity was associated with greater job dissatisfaction, as well as increased anxiety, lower commitment, and a diathesis to leave the organization. Recent research shows that ambiguity follows many negative and corruptive consequences: decreased satisfaction with one’s job, higher level of tension and anxiety, and the greater possibility of leaving the organization (Beard, 1999). Additionally, research showed that ambiguity is related with increased somatic and cognitive anxiety (Beauchamp, Bray, Eys, & Carron, 2003) and decreased role-related efficacy (Beauchamp & Bray, 2001; Eys & Carron, 2001; Beauchamp, Bray, Eys, & Carron, 2002; Bray & Brawley, 2002).

Beachamp and his colleagues (2002) presented a conceptual model of role ambiguity specific to sport. This model originated with Kahn and his colleagues (1964) as well as early work by Eys and Carron (2001) and by Beachamp and Bray (2001). More specifically, it was proposed by the researchers that role ambiguity contains four dimensions (multidimensional construct): scope of responsibilities, which refers to a lack of clear information about one’s responsibilities; role behaviours, which refer to a lack of clear information about behaviors associated with one’s role; role evaluation, which refers to a lack of clear information about how one’s responsibilities are evaluated; and role consequences, which refer to a lack of clear information about the consequences of failure to fulfill one’s role responsibilities. Based on research among school rugby players, Beauchamp et al. (2002) provided evidence of the factorial validity of the model with the use of confirmatory factor analysis. Also, Eys, Carron, Beauchamp, and Bray (2003) provided evidence about the construct validity of the operational definition of role ambiguity by examining the changes of role ambiguity over time and the influence of player status on perceptions for role ambiguity.

Studies show that a negative relationship between role ambiguity and performance exists among athletes whose roles were identified by a high degree of interdependence, compared to those whose roles were identified as independent of others’ (Tubre & Collins, 2000). Additional research indicates a positive correlation between ambiguity and burnout (Capel, 1986), and that among players of variety interdependent sports, starters reported lower levels of role ambiguity than non-starters (Beauchamp & Bray, 2001).

Chelladurai and Riemer (1997) have defined athlete satisfaction as “… a positive affective state resulting from a complex evaluation of the structures, processes, and outcomes associated with the athletic experience” (p. 135). As Chelladurai and Riemer (1997) have pointed out, athletes are the “prime beneficiaries” of athletic programs. In other words, sport organizations exist primarily for the benefit of athletes (Reimer & Chelladurai, 2001). The concept of athlete satisfaction has received little attention from researchers. In contrast, a great deal of research in sport-related literature has focused on the satisfaction of coaches, administrators, spectators, and participants across a range of sports settings (Danylchuk, 1993; Li, 1993; Pastore, 1993; Madrigal, 1995; Alexandris & Palialia, 1999; Koustelios, Kellis, & Bagiatis, 1999).

In most of the above research, athletes’ satisfaction has been considered a dependent or independent variable in various theoretical frameworks (Reimer & Chelladurai, 2001), usually as the outcome of various leader or coach behaviors (Chelladurai, 1984; Horne & Carron, 1985; Weiss & Friedrichs, 1986; Schliesman, 1987; Chelladurai, Inamura, Yamaguchi, Oinuma, & Miyauchi, 1988; Riemer & Chelladurai, 2001; Bebetsos & Theodorakis, 2003; Theodorakis & Bebetsos, 2003). For example, in a study of 251 college basketball players in the U.S., Weiss and Friedrichs (1986) found that coaches who engaged in frequently rewarding behavior, social support behavior, and a democratic style of leadership increased athletes’ satisfaction. In some studies, although fewer in number, researchers used athlete satisfaction as an independent variable in their models (Carron, 1982; Reimer, & Chelladurai, 2001). For example, Riemer and Chelladurai (2001), in a study of 649 student athletes from 14 Canadian universities, reported that only a limited number of facets of athlete satisfaction significantly predicted the commitment of athletes to the team, or conversely, a desire to leave the team.

Although there is very limited research on the possible relationship between role ambiguity and satisfaction in sports, research has been done in industrial and organizational psychology. Several studies have identified the negative relationship between role ambiguity and satisfaction (Abramis, 1994; Fisher & Gitelson, 1983; Horne & Carron, 1985). A meta-analysis by Jackson and Schuler (1985) indicated that role ambiguity was negatively associated with multiple aspects of employee job satisfaction. The limited investigation in sport settings on these two domains indicated that lower levels of role ambiguity were related to higher athlete satisfaction (Eys, Carron, Beauchamp, & Bray, 2003). Additionally, Bray, Beauchamp, Eys, and Carron (2005) found that the need for role clarity moderated the relationship between role ambiguity and athlete satisfaction.

Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between athletes’ perceptions of role ambiguity and their satisfaction as regards Greek team handball players. The hypothesis was twofold: first, that role ambiguity dimensions (subscales) are negatively related to athlete satisfaction dimensions and second, that Scope of Responsibilities would be the most prominent manifestation of role ambiguity related to the dimensions (subscales) of athlete satisfaction.


Participants and Procedures

Data were collected from 169 Greek team handball players: 53 (31.4%) men and 116 (68.6%) women. Their mean age was 16.4 years (SD=1.3), and ages ranged from 13 to 19 years. On average, their association with their respective teams was 4.9 years (SD=2.3), and their playing experience in organized team handball was 5.4 years (SD=1.9). Participants practiced an average of 4.4 times per week (SD=1.7).


The Role Ambiguity Scale (RAS; Beauchamp et al., 2002). This scale contains four subscales: (a) Scope of Responsibilities (e.g., “I understand the extent of my responsibilities.”), (b) Role Behaviors (e.g., “I understand what adjustments to my behavior need to be made to carry out my role.”), (c) Role Evaluation (e.g.,“I understand the criteria by which my role responsibilities are evaluated.”), and (d) Role Consequences (e.g., “It is clear to me what happens if I fail to carry out my role responsibilities.”). Each subscale has five items (questions). The scale has two batteries of statements, since it is designed to assess role ambiguity in an offensive and defensive context. In the present study, only the 20-items (5 items per subscale) that corresponded to offensive responsibilities were used, following suggestions made by Eys and Carron (2001) and Beauchamp et al. (2003) that role ambiguity might be more relevant in an offensive context. Respondents rated agreement with each item on a 9-point scale anchored by 1: strongly disagree and 9: strongly agree. Higher scores reflected greater role clarity and hence less role ambiguity. The scale was translated into Greek using a back translation procedure. For the purpose of the study, the Greek version was administered to 10 team handball athletes to examine whether the items of this version were comprehensive and well understood. No further modifications were made after the above process.

The Scale of Athlete Satisfaction (Chelladurai, et al., 1988). This scale measured satisfaction in leadership (seven items, e.g., “The leadership provided by my coach”), and Personal Outcome (three items, e.g., “The way I am performing”). Respondents rated satisfaction by item on a 7-point scale anchored by 1: strongly dissatisfied and 7: strongly satisfied. The scale was translated into Greek and used in earlier studies (Bebetsos & Theodorakis, 2003; Theodorakis & Bebetsos, 2003).


The method chosen to conduct the research was that of self-completed questionnaires. Researchers informed all subjects that participation was completely voluntary and that individual responses would be held in strict confidence.


Descriptive statistics including means, standard deviations, Cronbach coefficients α for all subscales, and Pearson intercorrelations between role ambiguity and athlete satisfaction dimensions are presented in Table 1. Relatively high mean scores were observed for the four role ambiguity dimensions ranging from 7 (Role Evaluation) to 7.3 (Role Consequences and Scope of Responsibilities) of a possible 9. It should be noted that higher Role Ambiguity scores mean less uncertainty. Participants reported moderate satisfaction from their personal performance (M=5.1, SD=1.2) and with their leaders’ behaviors (M=5.8, SD=1.1).

Table 1

Descriptive statistics for athlete satisfaction and role ambiguity dimensions

M SD Cronbach’s
1 Leadership 5.8 1.1 .87
2 Personal outcome 5.1 1.2 .71 .42**
3 Scope of Responsibilties 7.3 1.3 .83 .39** .32**
4 Role Behaviors 7.1 1.2 .80 .18* .37** .76**
5 Role Evaluation 7.0 1.4 .80 .35** .30** .68** .64**
6 Role Consequences 7.3 1.5 .82 .35** .15* .72** .49** .65**

*p<.05, **p<.001

Using the Cronbach coefficient α for internal consistency, acceptable estimates were observed for the Athlete Satisfaction subscales (Table 1). In contrast, rather low internal consistensy coefficients were observed for the four Role Ambiguity subscales. More specifically, alpha coefficients were .71 for Scope of Responsibilities, .61 for Role Behavior, .66 for Role Evaluation, and .69 for Role Concequences. Item analysis indicated that the internal consistency of each dimension could substantially be improved if certain items were removed from each subscale. It should be noted that these items (total of 4, 1 for each subscale) were reversed (negative wording). After removing these items, alpha coefficients raised to .83 for Scope of Responsibilities, .80 for Role Behavior, .80 for Role Evaluation, and .82 for Role Concequences.

As hypothesized, Role Clarity (lower Role Ambiguity) was positively related to Athlete Satisfaction (Table 1). The bivariate correlation sample size (N=169) was adequate to assure power of .80 and effect size of at p = .05 (46). A power analysis was performed using the Gpower statistical program (Erdfelder, Faul, & Buchner, 1996). To further explore relationships between Role Ambiguity and Athlete Satisfaction subscales, two hierarchical regression analyses were performed. For each analysis, an Athlete Satisfaction subscale was the dependent variable, and the four subscales of Role Ambiguity were the independent variables. Following suggestions by Eys, Carron, Bray, and Beauchamp (2003) the Scope of Responsibilities subscale was entered as the predictor variable on the first step for each analysis. The remaining three subscales of Role Ambiguity (Role Behavior, Role Evaluation, and Role Consequences) were entered as a block in the second step. In the first model, Scope of Responsibilities predicted a significant proportion of the variance, 8% in Leadership (F1,134=11.7, p< .001). When the other three Role Ambiguity subscales entered in the model, variance prediction increased to 12% (F4,131=4.7, p< .001). The subscales of Role Behavior and Role Evaluation offered significant contributions (t=-2.0, p< .05, and t=-2.1, p< .05). In the second model, Scope of Responsibilities predicted 11% of Personal Outcome (F1,134=16.7, p< .001). In the next step, the other three subscales increased the prediction of Personal Outcome to 21% (F4,134=8.9, p< .001). The subscales of Role Behavior and Role Consequences offered significant contribution to the prediction (t=-2.0, p< .05, and t=-2.8, p< .05, respectively).


Table 2

Hierarchical regression analysis for role ambiguity dimensions predicting athletes’ satisfaction

Δ R2 ΔF p Β β t P
Leadership Scope of Responsibilites .08 11.78 < .001 .32 .36 2.33 < .05
Role Behaviors .12 4.72 < .001 -.23 -.27 -2.03 < .05
Role Evaluation 1.95 .25 2.14 < .05
Role Consequences -.34 -.39 -.39 ns
Personal Outcome Scope of Responsibilites .11 16.76 < .001 .25 .25 1.74 .05
Role Behaviors .21 8.96 < .001 .25 .27 2.08 .05
Role Evaluation .12 .14 1.28 ns
Role Consequences -.26 -.32 -2.82 .05


The aim of the study was to examine the relationship between athletes’ satisfaction and role ambiguity among team handball players. It was predicted that role ambiguity would have a negative relationship to the satisfaction dimensions and that Scope of Responsibilities was the most prominent manifestation of role ambiguity related to the dimensions (subscales) of athlete satisfaction.

First, the reliability estimates showed that after the exemption of four items, which were removed from the analysis on the ambiguity instrument, all factors from both questionnaires had good internal consistency. The exclusion of the items significantly improved the internal reliability of the factors. It should be noted that only these items had negative wording, whereas the other items of the questionnaire had positive wording. There is evidence suggesting that item wording may influence the results of a study (Spector, Van Katwyk, & Brannick, 1997; Brown, 2003; Tsiggilis, Masmnidis, & Koustelios, 2004; Proios, Tsiggilis, & Doganis, 2005). Schriesheim, Eisenbach, and Hill (1991) demonstrated that regular items (e.g., “I am happy”) are the most reliable and produced the most accurate responses in comparison to negated regular (e.g., “I am not happy”), polar opposite (e.g., “I am sad”), and negated polar opposite (e.g., “I am not sad”) items.

Second, the means of role ambiguity are above average (Table 1), which translates to high role clarity and lower role ambiguity. This might have occurred because, as it was mentioned previously, the players were members in their teams for a quite long time (4.9 years), their sport experience (5.4 years) was extensive and the research was conducted near the end of the season. In a previous study, Eys and his colleagues (2003) indicated that athletes with greater sport experience, being members of the same team for a quite long time, had lower indicators of role ambiguity in comparison to younger and less experienced athletes. Additionally, indicators of athlete satisfaction were also above average. Similar results of previous research (Bebetsos & Theodorakis, 2003; Theodorakis & Bebetsos, 2003) indicate that in the end of the season athletes were satisfied with their leaders’ behaviors as well as with their personal performance.

Third, role ambiguity was found to have a negative relationship to athletes’ satisfaction. These results are consistent with previous research findings that indicate role ambiguity was inversely correlated with job satisfaction (Abramis, 1994; Jackson & Schuler, 1985). More specifically, Jackson and Schuler (1985) mentioned in their meta-analysis of the industrial literature that the overall correlation between satisfaction and ambiguity was in a moderate to high range, showing the important contribution to satisfaction. In addition, Eys et al. (2003) concluded that lower perceptions of role ambiguity were related to higher athlete satisfaction. Riemer and Chelladurai (1998) indicated that satisfaction has been proposed and shown to be a consequence of several group dynamics constructs, including leadership and team cohesion.

Forth, the results of this study supported the importance of Scope of Responsibilities over the other four dimensions of role ambiguity. It accounted for most of the variance in both regression analyses. Previous research found that Scope of Responsibilities had the strongest relationship with cohesion (Eys, & Carron, 2001) and cognitive state anxiety (Beauchamp, Bray, Eys, & Carron, 2003) and was the strongest predictor of role efficacy and role performance (Beauchamp, Bray, Eys, & Carron, 2002). In the present study, Scope of Responsibilities accounted for the most variance in both hierarchical regression analyses, consistent with previous research results (Eys, Carron, Bray, & Beauchamp, 2003).

The findings of this study showed the significant contribution of other dimensions in the regression analyses. More specifically, for the first model, Role Behavior and Role Evaluation offered significant contributions, and for the second, Role Behavior and Role Consequences offered significant contribution to the prediction. These results reinforce the possible modification of the instrument from its hierarchical to its multidimensional role. More specifically, the results supported the multidimensional nature of ambiguity. A reason might be the possibility that Scope of Responsibilities may not reflect an overall representation of role ambiguity and does not develop in a hierarchical fashion. In contrast with what Eys and his colleagues (2003) stated, the other dimensions proposed by Beauchamp and his colleagues (2002) may not form sub-categories beneath Scope of Responsibilities in a hierarchical model.

The results showed that the players tend to understand the direct relationship that exists between Leadership (i.e. coach) and the criteria by which their team responsibilities are evaluated, what the leadership wants and expects from them. Likewise, for Personal Outcome, the results indicated the players understand their roles in the team, what responsibilities these roles have, and that these roles have a direct relationship with athletic growth and development. Finally, they understand that consequences might follow if they do not carry these roles out.

In conclusion, the present results have indicated that role ambiguity (Beauchamp, et al., 2003) is associated with athletes’ satisfaction among Greek team handball players. Additionally, the results indicated the importance of Scope of Responsibilities and that four specific dimensions of role ambiguity dimensions could predict two facets of athletes’ satisfaction. Future research should continue to investigate relationships with variables such as intention, motivation, aggressiveness, as well as explore the importance and mechanisms of role ambiguity within team sports. A possible limitation of the study might be the lack of information regarding on-field defensive roles. Athletes’ responses regarding their defensive roles were not included in this study. Also, the sample consisted of experienced athletes and the study was conducted only on the sport of team handball.


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2015-11-06T20:24:34-05:00March 14th, 2008|Sports Coaching, Sports Management, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on Relations between Role Ambiguity and Athletes’ Satisfaction among Team Handball Players

Nutrition Knowledge and Attitudes of College Athletes


Research indicates that the nutritional knowledge of athletes is minimal. Dietary behaviors may hinder health status and athletic performance. The purpose of this study was to compare nutrition knowledge and attitudes of college athletes at a Southern university (N=190). Male and female athletes were surveyed from all sports.  The study examined knowledge of current dietary recommendations, sources of nutrients, healthy food choices, and the relationship between diet and disease processes.  Significant differences in overall knowledge were noted between athletes’ collegiate sports and genders. The majority of athletes at this university had healthy attitudes about eating behaviors, but low knowledge scores.

A problem facing America’s college youth today is the lack of available healthy fast foods or easily prepared foods. College students have little time and space when it comes to meal preparation within the confines of dorms, apartments, or shared housing.  An additional concern is the knowledge needed to determine which food items to select.  Current research indicates that as the athletes’ knowledge increases, nutritional quality of food choices improves (Kunkel, Bell, & Luccia, 2001).

Nutritional Education and Training (NET) programs are taught to children in most public schools (Sizer & Whitney, 2000), yet few college-age students understand even the basic concepts of nutrition by the time they reach a university setting (Cho & Fryer, 1974; Grandjean, Hursh, Manjure, & Hanley, 1981).

Student athletes with higher nutritional knowledge may obtain information to help increase performances and or maintain healthy or competitive weights (Barr, 1987).  However, athletes participating in certain athletic sports have more problems obtaining basic nutrient needs (Beals & Manore, 1998) while attempting to attain or maintain a weight that allows them  to stay competitive.

Some nutritional information obtained by athletes may be unreliable (Barr et al., 1997), contributing to the problem of athletes making poor dietary choices (Evans, Sawyer-Morse, & Betsinger, 2000). The purpose of this study was to examine nutrition knowledge and attitudes in a sample of athletes in a university setting.


Data Collection Instruments

Nutritional knowledge was assessed using the Nutrition and Knowledge Questionnaire developed by Parameter and Wardle (2000). Permission for use of the questionnaire was obtained. The questionnaire included four sections covering (a) experts’ recommendations regarding increasing and decreasing intake of different food groups, (b) nutrient knowledge,  (c) food choices (which ask people to choose between different options, e.g., to pick a healthy snack which is low in fat and high in fiber), and (d) the relationships between diet and disease.  This last section addresses beliefs about which foods can cause particular diseases as well as knowledge of diseases associated with eating too much or too little of various foods.

Nutrition attitudes were measured using the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT 26) developed by Garner and Garfinkel (1979).  Access to the questionnaire was obtained online with permission of the authors.  The Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) is probably the most widely used standardized measure of symptoms and concerns characteristic of eating disorders (Garner, Olmstead, Bohr, & Garfinkel, 1982).  Early identification of eating disorders is obtained by using the questionnaire as a screening tool to allow early treatment and prevention of long-term physical and psychological complications.

The demographic questions measured consisted of age, ethnic origin, year in school, and collegiate sport.  Questions were asked about the student athletes’ frequency of working out, height, weight, supplement use, and previous nutrition classes.


After obtaining approval from the institution’s review board, participants were recruited from each of the athletic departments, including football, volleyball, basketball, softball, gymnastics, golf, tennis, swimming, cross-country/track and field, and soccer. One hundred and ninety participants aged 18-24 were surveyed.  Coaches were initially informed of the study by e-mail.  After the initial introduction by e-mail, another e-mail was sent to obtain consent from the coaches.


All collegiate athletes were asked to voluntarily complete the knowledge and attitude survey. Surveys were disseminated before or after weight training sessions or before or after workouts. Each athlete was given the nine-page questionnaire to complete using as much time as necessary to answer all the questions.  All athletes completed all sections of the study, with the exception of the gymnastic team. Coaches of the gymnastics team opted not to allow their athletes to complete the attitudes section of the survey because some of the gymnastic athletes were involved in counseling for problematic eating behaviors.  The coaches were concerned that athletes would be put under more duress if challenged by a questionnaire assessing current nutritional habits.

Data Analyses

Statistical analyses were conducted using programs available in SPSS, version 11.0.  Descriptive statistics were used to determine means and percentages of groups.   Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test for group mean differences in knowledge/attitudes and for relationships between knowledge scores and age, year in school, and collegiate sport.  Gender differences in knowledge and attitudes were analyzed using an independent samples t test.


The mean age of female athletes was 19 years of age and the majority of respondents were white. The demographic characteristics are shown in Table 1.

Knowledge and Attitudes in Nutrition Among College Athletes

The nutritional knowledge score had a mean of 51.49% (SD 13.57%).  Of the maximum 11 points for the dietary recommendations section, the mean score was 6.52 (SD 2.02). Seventy-five percent of the respondents were aware of the recommendations to decrease fat, sugar, and salt intake, and 76.1% agreed that it was healthy to increase fiber, fruit, and vegetable intake. Only 32% of the surveyed population responded correctly to the number of fruits and vegetables recommended daily (collectively- five to six servings). Forty-five percent of the athletes stated that experts recommended that we needed four servings or less of fruits and vegetables or they were unsure. However, more than 66% of the students were aware of the recommendation to reduce saturated fat.  When asked about carbohydrate and meat recommendations, 56% agreed that experts say we should eat the same amount of meat as Americans are currently consuming, and 53% of the respondents replied that experts recommend that carbohydrate intake should be less.

  1. Of a possible 67 points for the section on food groups, the mean score was 36.44 (SD 10.02 ). When asked to categorize various foods as either high or low in sugar, fat, starch, salt, protein, fiber, or saturated fats, a slight percentage were aware and no one scored higher than a 56.


Of a maximum of 6 points on the everyday food selections section, the mean score was 2.98 (SD 1.25).  When athletes were asked to pick a low fat, high fiber snack, only 37% chose the correct answer (raisins). The most common incorrect response submitted was “nutragrain bar” (39%).  Sixty-eight percent of the athletes agreed that the healthiest pasta-sauce combination should be a large amount of pasta with a small amount of sauce versus the reverse (large amount of sauce with small amount of pasta).  When asked to choose the best choice for low fat, high fiber meal, 42% of the athletes correctly chose beans and rice.  Twenty-eight percent chose grilled chicken and another 22% chose whole wheat with cheese.

In the diet and disease relationships section, athletes were asked if they were aware of links between eating more or less of a particular food and major health problems associated with each. The mean score was 5.57 (SD 2.99) out of a possible 17 points. The highest proportions of people (65%) were aware of a relationship between high fat intake and disease. Of the people who were aware of the fat-disease link, 58% also knew about the link to heart disease and obesity.  Students therefore agreed that fat intake be decreased to reduce risk of heart disease.

Almost 70% of the athletes agreed that eating less salt would help decrease the risk for heart disease.  Students were evenly divided (38% Yes; 38% No; 22% Unsure) as to whether eating less preservatives would decrease the risk for heart disease, indicating that more information should be provided for about food preservatives.

Only 35% were aware of a link between low intake of fruits and vegetables and health problems. Sixty-one percent of the athletes stated that consumption of more fruits and vegetables and fiber intake were methods to reducing the risk for development of cancer.

Slightly over one-third of the athletes (35%) knew of health risks associated with low fiber intake. The majority was unaware of a specific risk with cancer or any specific health problems associated with low fiber intake.

When asked to discuss diseases or health problems related to sugar, only one athlete out of 190 gave the correct response. The correct answer, teeth (in diseases of the teeth), was the most missed question.  This information indicates that most students, though aware, may not stop to think of the association between sugar and the health of their teeth.  Most students (54%) responded with the answer of diabetes which is also related to sugar intake although much later in life.

A t test between male (n = 92) and female (n = 97) athletes found significant differences in nutritional knowledge (P < .001).  Female athletes scored slightly higher than the males on overall nutritional knowledge, as well as on each individual section of recommendations, food groups, choices, and diseases.

Eating attitudes were assessed using the 26-item Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26).  Mean scores for the 104 participants (gymnasts were excluded from this part of the survey) were 6.04 (SD = 5.96), with only 5.8% demonstrating a potential for having or acquiring an eating disorder (scores > 20).

Gender differences noted in the EAT-26 were not significant (equal variances assumed).  Mean scores were just slightly lower for males (M = 5.41; SD = 5.85) than for females (M = 6.73; SD = 6.03).  There were no significant differences between male and female athletes on the attitude sections.


The purpose of this study was to compare nutrition knowledge and attitudes of college athletes at a southern university. The results of this survey reveal a lack of nutritional knowledge among university athletes.  As previous research has indicated (Barr, 1987; Jacobson, Sobonyna & Ransone, 2001), college athletes are lacking in nutritional knowledge.

Previous research in athletic programs shows that the time spent in the athletic program may improve nutritional awareness and positively influence eating behaviors (Clark, 1999).  Athletes’ overall knowledge in the current study was fair. Just over half of the responses were answered correctly. Athletes’ knowledge about dietary recommendations was superior to their knowledge regarding other topics.  Well over half of the athletes were generally aware that they should be eating more or less of particular types of foods.  One topic area that needs improvement is regarding carbohydrate needs; most athletes incorrectly believed that carbohydrates should be decreased in the diet.

Athletes in the current study displayed impressive knowledge regarding fat content of specific foods.  However, they lacked knowledge about types of fats. They were aware that whole grains contain more vitamins and minerals than do other grains.  Knowledge about diet and disease relationships was poor.  The most common known relationship was between heart disease and high fat foods.

Athletes had problems translating their knowledge into food choices.  Only 50% percent of the survey questions regarding food choices were answered correctly.  Marketing may be a contributing factor to the confusion of healthy food choices versus non-healthy food choices (Clark, 1999).

The eating attitudes of athletes were positive. Most athletes at this university were not at risk for eating disorders.  However, scores might been different if the gymnasts participated in the study.


Sports nutrition has grown over the past decade, linking how an athlete eats with how they perform during practice or competitive events (Clark, 1999).  For this reason and given the results of this study, it would be beneficial to hire a nutritionist as part of the staff.

Coaches can help to enhance the performances of their athletes by promoting good nutrition (Turner & Bass, 2001; Witta, Stombaugh, & Buch, 1995); however, they need to have the nutritional knowledge in order to encourage healthy food choices (Corley, Demarest-Litchford, & Bazzarre, 1990; Wolf, Wirth, & Lohman, 1979). Providing athletes with a person knowledgeable in current dietary recommendations and aware of current eating disorders can perhaps prevent poor athletic performances and the potential problems with eating behaviors.

Nutritional knowledge is related to eating behavior (Burke, Cox, Cummings & Desbrow, 2001; Witta et al., 1995).  Research shows that athletes who receive nutrition education have significantly higher knowledge and attitude scores, and as their knowledge increases, they are more prone to eat or avoid certain foods (Werblow, Fox, & Henneman, 1978).

Lifetime consequences from poor food choices may affect bone health and reproductive health (Turner & Bass, 2001).  Positive attitudes toward nutrition are linked with accurate nutrition knowledge (Witta et al., 1995).  It is necessary to inform college athletes about even the basic dietary concepts.

It is practical to consider that collegiate athletes are knowledgeable about the demands of their individual sports and the nutrients vital to maintain a healthy and competitive state.  However, research in the past tells us different. Both athletes and non-athletes need guidance in selecting nutrient-dense foods (Tilgner & Schiller, 1989) necessary to sustain energy for activities of daily life or endurance sports. More research is needed regarding the effects of nutrition interventions on knowledge, attitudes, and food behavior.


Barr, S. I. (1986). Nutrition knowledge and selected nutritional practices of female recreational athletes. Journal of Nutrition Education, 18, 167.

Barr, S. I. (1987).  Nutrition knowledge of female varsity athletes and university    students.  Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 87, 1660-1664.

Barr, S. I., Heaney, R. P., Scheider, P., Reiners, C., Klesges, R. C., Ward, K. D., et al. (1997). Changes in bone mineral density in male athletes. Journal of the American Medical Association, 277(1), 22.

Beals, K. A., & Manore, M. M. (1998). Nutritional status of female athletes with subclinical eating disorders.  Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 98, 419-425.

Burke, L.M., Cox, G.R., Cummings, N.K. & Desbrow, B. (2001). Guidelines for daily carbohydrate intake: Do athletes achieve them? Sports Medicine, 31, 267-299.

Cho, M., & Fryer, B.A. (1974). Nutritional knowledge of collegiate physical education majors. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 65, 30.

Clark, K. (1999). Sports nutrition counseling: Documentation of performance. Clinical Nutrition, 14(2), 34.

Corely, G., Demarest-Litchford, M., & Bazzarre, T. (1990). Nutrition knowledge and dietary practices of college coaches. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 90, 705-709.

Evans, A. E., Sawyer-Morse, M. K., & Betsinger, A. (2000). Fruit and vegetable consumption among Mexican-American college students, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 100, 1399-1402.

Garner, D. M., & Garfinkel, P. E. (1979). The Eating Attitudes Test: An index of the symptoms of anorexia nervosa. Psychological Medicine, 9, 273-279.

Garner, D. M., Olmstead, M. P., Bohr, Y., & Garfinkel, P. E. (1982). The Eating Attitudes Test: Psychometric features and clinical correlates. Psychological Medicine, 12, 871-878.

Grandjean, A., Hursh, L. M., Majure, W. C., & Hanley, D. F. (1981). Nutrition knowledge and practices of college athletes. Medical Science Sports Exercise, 13, 82.

Jacobson, B. H., Sobonya, C., & Ransone, J. (2001). Nutrition practices and knowledge of collage varsity athletes: A follow-up. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 15, 63-68.

Kunkel, M., Bell, L. B., & Luccia, H. D. (2001). Peer nutrition education program to improve nutrition knowledge of female collegiate athletes. Journal of Nutrition Education, 33(2), 114-115.

Parameter, K., & Wardle, J. (2000). Evaluation and design of nutritional knowledge measures. Journal of Nutrition Education, 32(5), 269-277.

Sizer, F. & Whitney, E. (2000). Child, teen, and older adult. In Wadsworth (8th Ed.), Nutrition Concepts and Controversies (pp. 469-545). Belmont, CA: Wadworth/Thompson Learning.

Tilgner, S., & Schiller, M. R. (1989). Dietary intakes of female collegiate athletes: The need for nutrition and education. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 89, 967.
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2016-04-28T14:51:42-05:00March 14th, 2008|Sports Exercise Science, Sports Management, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on Nutrition Knowledge and Attitudes of College Athletes

The Global Flows of International Professional Baseball System


This paper employs concepts drawn from a five-phase model of globalization adapted from the work of Maguire et al. in 2002, which aids in developing an understanding of the global phenomenon of professional baseball. It reports that the five flows of globalization, namely, migrant dimension, technology dimension, economic dimension, media dimension, and ideological dimension are shaping the outcomes of various local professional baseball cultures within the global context and vice versa. The paper concludes that Major League Baseball (MLB) in the U.S. is confirmed as the core economy within world professional baseball; and the global forces, the power of MLB in particular, have been impacting and shaping the outcomes of different local professional baseball cultures with a particular focus on the relationships between the above five flows.


During the past generation, especially from the 1980s to the present, the world has experienced fundamental changes, and “globalization has emerged as one of the foremost discourses” (Jackson & Hokowhitu, 2002). According to Bramham and Spink (2001), such dramatic changes can be thought of in six separate dimensions. First, there has been a growing awareness of the ecological environment and the global impact of human activities upon a fragile and interdependent biosphere. Second, social action groups and political movements have tended to transcend the local and to make common cause at a transnational scale. Some of this activity has been facilitated by a revolution of global technology. Third, there has been a cultural transformation, particularly in terms of the decline of tradition. Cultural values can no longer be contained and constrained within a single nation state. Boundaries become increasingly porous as they experience growing flows of people, culture, information, goods, and services. Fourth, social transformations are taking place that loosen the constraints of traditional institutions and local communities on individuals. Fifth, in relation to political change, the growing importance of transnational institutions and agencies, such as the European Union (EU) has become increasingly apparent. Finally, there are economic factors changing global patterns of investment, production, distribution and consumption (Bauman, 1998).

The global development of sport has also accelerated from the 1980s. For example, one can find the flows from country to country of sporting goods, equipment, and landscapes that have grown such as the development of the media-sport production complex and project images to global audiences. In the academic field, the subjects of growth of internationalization or globalization have received much attention from numbers of academics (cf. Chiba, 2004; Law et al., 2002; Magnusson, 2001; Maguire et al., 2002; Takahashi & Horne, 2004). In this paper, the authors employ concepts drawn from a five-phase model of globalization approach, adapted from the work of Maguire et al. in 2002, with a focus on understanding the global phenomenon of professional baseball. They seek to report how the five flows of globalization: migrant dimension, technology dimension, economic dimension, media dimension, and ideological dimension are shaping the outcomes of various local professional baseball cultures within the global context and vice versa.

Theoretical Background

With the radical changes taking place in this global context, a major concern has been raised regarding the consequences of globalizing the sport field. Elite sport now occurs on a worldwide scale and is patterned along what academics term ‘global flows’ (Maguire et al., 2002). In a set of flows in global processes, Maguire et al. propose an elementary framework for exploring such phenomenon, suggesting that there are five dimensions of global flows: migrant dimension, technology dimension, economic dimension, media dimension, and ideological dimension.

According to Maguire et al. (2002), “the migrant dimension involves the international movement of people such as tourists, exiles and guest workers and so on.” This concept of migration refers to the make up of persons who have constituted the shifting world where guest workers, other moving groups, and persons constitute an essential feature of the world in general. In the sport arena, the global migration of sports personnel (e.g. players, coaches etc.) has been a pronounced and established feature of the sporting ‘global village’ in recent decades (Maguire, 1999). For instance, the movement of player migration occurs in some sports, such as professional baseball, between North America, Latin America, and East Asia.

The technology dimension, “created by the flow between countries of the machinery and equipment produced the flow between countries by corporations and government agencies,” (Maguire et al., 2002) making technology “a shaping factor at the nexus of alternative global sport futures, and as such it is a pivotal driver of sport’s global evolution” (Westerbeek & Smith, 2003: 153). Modern technology, such as the development of media, sport equipment etc., has created financial benefits and publicity for professional baseball.

“The economic dimension has been obviously concerned on the rapid flow of money and its equivalents around the world” (Maguire et al., 2002). It is evident that the flow of finance in the global sports arena has come to focus on the international trade in personnel, prize money and endorsements, and the marketing of sport along specific lines. Some good examples are manifested in the transformation of sports such as USA basketball and baseball, Olympic Games, and Football World Cup etc. into global sports.

Another factor that must be considered is “the media dimension, entailing the flow between countries of information and images that are produced and distributed by newspapers, magazines, radio, film, television, video, satellite, cable and the World Wide Web” (Maguire et al., 2002: 5). Currently, global and local media sport organizations have aligned a range of sporting events to meet the global audiences’ interests, of which spectacle, personality, and excitement are emphasized. The sport-related media continuously ‘broadcasts’ images of sports to large global audiences. For example, consider worldwide audiences for the World Baseball Classic in 2006.

The ideological dimension is “linked to the flow of values centrally associated with the state or counter-state ideologies and movements” (Maguire et al., 2002). In the professional baseball business, players are regarded as individual entrepreneurs with rights (e.g. negotiation) (Suzuki, 2000). Nevertheless, except for the MLB, the leagues seem to have different stories (Lee et al., 2006).


Migrant Dimension

“Sports migration is bound up in a complex political economy that is itself embedded in a series of power struggles characterizing the global sports system” (Maguire et al., 2002: 32). The U.S. is a central part of the global system. The most striking example of transnational power of sports organization is Major League Baseball (Rosentraub, 2000). Players from outside the United States are defined as guestworkers in this system. In MLB, many players have been recruited from Latin American countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Indeed, U.S. domination increasingly relies on Latin America talent, as illustrated by the professional sporting relations between the U.S. and Latin America (Klein, 1995). On the other hand, one could find that players came from Netherlands despite the fact that football is the most popular sport in Europe. There has been an influx of talented players from Latin America, Europe, and Australia because U.S. capital, technology, and media have provided rapid development related to professional baseball labor conditions. This, together with the infusion of Asian players (Takahashi & Horne, 2004) has fostered the exploitation of the North American professional baseball market over the past years. The baseball business is booming in Asia as a rapidly-swelling band of fans follow the exploits of home-grown players on the other side of the Pacific (Sportbusiness, 2001).

The growing prominence of foreign born baseball players in MLB (see Table 1) appears not only in the performances of foreign superstars such as Sammy Sosa but also in overall number of foreign players now on MLB rosters (Marcano & Fidler, 2000). By 2005, 242 overseas players, which occupied 29.2% of 829 Major League players, were featured from 15 countries together with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island. The Dominican Republic leads all countries with 91 players; Venezuela is second with 46; and Puerto Rico is third with 34 (Major League Baseball, 2005). The import of MLB players from East Asia in this half decade has also shown a dramatic growth (Chiba, 2004; Reaves, 2002; Takahashi & Horne, 2004).

Twenty-one Japanese, 9 Koreans, and 3 Taiwanese played in the U.S. during the 2001-05 period. “These results indicate that most of the demand for major league players is focused on foreign-born players” (Chiba, 2004: 197). Foreign players strive to play in the Major Leagues because that is the highest level (Koppett, 2000). More importantly, this claim clearly implies “the global migration of sports personnel has been a pronounced feature of recent decades and appears likely to continue in the future” (Maguire et al., 2002: 5).

Table 1 Foreign-Born Baseball Players of the MLB since 1980
5-Year Sets 1980-84 1985-89 1990-94 1995-99 2000-04 2005-now
Percentage 12.45% 13.68% 18.57% 25.41% 27.08% 29.20%


Media Dimension

In terms of media, there are two major and interrelated trends in the spheres of media, marketization, and globalization. And “a number of trends are occurring simultaneously in international sport” (Wagner, 1990: 399). The growing power of the media in recent decades has had a substantial impact on sport (Law et al., 2002) and this has generated excitement and interest in various sports around the world. Such tendency had a substantial impact on sport in many Third World areas, has generated excitement and interest in various heretofore-quiet sports of Asia [baseball] and Africa [football] (Wagner, 1990). Indeed, “reflecting the significant impact of global media on current society, sport media has significantly influenced culture and society, and increased opportunities in the sport related market” (McDonald et al., 2001: 44). In Taiwan, for instance, until the end of 2004, over 85.2 percent of households had cable television (National Communications Commission, 2006) with many foreign satellite channels.  Taiwanese who resided in  Far East Asia were able to watch American television programs, including sports channels, such as ESPN, and the four major U.S. networks: ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. Similarly, the global audience unconsciously accepts American sports, commodities, and culture. Professional team sports are distributed through the electronic media (Law et al., 2002). Generally, the growing influence of the [global] media is evident with a wide variety of local cultures such as in Taiwan, Japan etc. where the development of media has significantly affected people’s daily life in which sport is inevitably included. The recent New York Yankee’s phenomenon of MLB in Japan and Taiwan could be illustrated as a good example in responding to the above claim. Therefore, “the transnational media has overtaken many dimensions of the business of sport” (Phillips & Hutchins, 2003: 217), and professional baseball industry is deemed as one of the media concern. Both the globalization of American-style sport and the creation of global professional baseball audiences “have been made possible by the development of ‘the media-sport production complex’” (Melnick & Jackson, 2002: 431).

As to be expected, the development of high technology has accelerated the development of global media, especially in the field of sport broadcasting, which has introduced MLB to the rest of the world through television channels which have simultaneously satisfied the global public’s fascination with such sport. Given the importance of sport media, new media technology such as satellite broadcasting, the Internet, and so on have made significant contributions to the promotion of professional baseball in general and Major League Baseball in particular. Professional baseball broadcasting reflects the phenomenon from an international perspective that explains the rapid spread of sport media programs (e.g. live games broadcasting of MLB). Besides, the existence of broadcasts has “greatly enhanced the revenues and financial health of organized baseball…the combination of commodity and non-commodity broadcasts enabled baseball to earn higher revenues than it might otherwise have earned” (Weiner, 2002: 25). For example, the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) in Taiwan has its game telecasts sponsored by the Videoland TV Company. This has become the pivotal income of clubs which have been suffering from red deficits for years since the League’s inauguration.

Technology Dimension

The rapid development of electronic media is evidenced by the development of video, satellite, cable, digital networks, and the Internet in recent decades. The continuous movement of new technologies has “accelerated the phenomenon of global integration and business opportunities related to global sport” (McDonald et al., 2001: 44).

Sport functions to provide a cheap and simple way of spending time and “as a means of enticing viewers to make the massive monetary and ‘technological shift to digital television’” (Miller, 1999: 123). The development towards what we can now see global professional baseball network has been marked by further rapid technological expansion, particularly in electronic media. And, “the impact of technology on the expansion and popularity of sport through television and the Internet is established” (Westerbeek & Smith, 2003: 131). Actually, technological innovations in the professional baseball industry have had a significant effect in providing audiences with information and entertainment of a sporting nature. Through the aid of modern media technology, which has created finical benefits and publicity for professional baseball, the global nature of this specific ‘industry’ is associated with its development into big business. Here, one tends not to overemphasize the ‘witnessed big success’ of the MLB, which is evidently dependent on the global media and technology. Rather, consider Taiwan, where the professional baseball business is benefited by harnessing the resources and technologies made available by media corporations such as Videoland TV Company.

Interestingly, new global technologies have been shown to have the potential to serve as savior and enemy of local professional baseball cultures. On the one hand, new technologies such as the Internet and satellite television are enabling ‘remote’ professional baseball systems to communicate with MLB, which plays a significant role in providing a stimulus for the rest of baseball world. On the other, these same technologies are also able, intentionally and unintentionally, to contribute to the exploitation and loss of local baseball cultures.

Economic Dimension

As noted, the globalization of sport is equally about the appeal of sport and its implications with world capitalism in which the “complex and contradictory links among sport, politics, and global capitalism in a country that is on the economic and political periphery” (Miller et al., 2003: 428). Money is generated through professional sports, international sports competitions, and the televizing of major sporting events. More precisely, this global capital phenomenon has led to a financial flow that has clearly impacted various local sport cultures. “The flow of finance in the global sports arena has come to center not only on the international trade in personnel, prize money and endorsements, but also on the marketing of sport along specific lines” (Maguire et al., 2002: 5).

Among the network of international professional baseball, the U.S. plays an influential role due to its economic status in the world. To attract excellent players, the MLB pays more money to ‘import’ or ‘exploit’ players than other countries. The release of American capital, supplied by stakeholders such as the media, supporters, and shareholders has impacted other leagues in other countries. In Japan, for example, partly because of players challenging themselves (participating in the MLB) and partly because of monetary factors, the forceful USA capital has brought about obstacles for the management of Japanese leagues and this has had a negative impact on professional clubs. More and more baseball fans now would rather pay attention to MLB than domestic leagues. This shows that the prevailing globalization of professional team sports will not really benefit every country since American capital transfers around the world without boundaries. In contrast, some countries have been damaged. For instance, “U.S. MLB retains the vast majority of elite athletic talent in the world, American and imported, largely through its enormous capital base” (Chiba, 2004: 207).  Interestingly, Japanese companies sponsor the CPBL, which means “Japanese capital can thus support leagues and clubs elsewhere in Asia and stimulate Japanese players to move to those countries where the capital flows” (Takahashi & Horne, 2004: 52). Consequently, within the context of global capitalism, the struggle to maintain and protect local professional baseball cultural spaces (e.g. Taiwan, Japan, and Latin American countries) where identities can be constructed and affirmed have become complex and difficult (Jackson & Hokowhitu, 2002). Baseball, which has been traditionally claimed by the above countries as a national game is now, more than ever before, inevitably subject to foreign influences, namely, the economic power of MLB.

Ideological Dimension

In professional team sports, the 1996 Bosman ruling proved the value of players’ ideology. In general, the Bosman ruling has abolished the legality of all movement restrictions or nationality clauses for athletes, comfirming  the right of an EU citizen player to move to another country free of any transfer upon the expiration of his contract (Horne et al., 2001: 248). After the Bosman judgment, European players were no longer tied to clubs even when out of contract and players with the big clubs can demand more pay in return for committing themselves to longer contracts (Magnusson, 2001). They won freedom of movement between clubs.

Compared to the professional football arena, current professional baseball leagues players express a similar desire to operate as free agents or associations and have tried to seek a beneficial balance between players and leagues. In MLB, the managerial operating mechanism is recognized as successful and thus the right of players is assured (Suzuki, 2000). Nevertheless, the free movement of baseball talents within Taiwan and Japan was dependent upon the establishment of administrative agreements and common regulations implemented by leagues and clubs. Recently, promotion [improvement] of Taiwan’s draft pick system has been considered by the clubs and the league, however, in comparison with professional baseball leagues either in the USA or Japan, Taiwan still needs to promote its own system. In Japan, despite having a more ‘advanced and sound’ operating mechanism in professional baseball system than Taiwan’s case, the NPB players’ rights are still, to some degree, far behind the players in MLB. For instance, in 1993, a free agency system had been implemented, nevertheless, there still exist limitations that have hindered players’ mobility, such as the fact that players were unable to be free agents after 9 years of service in the first club (Lee et al., 2006). Meanwhile, before the period of obtaining the right of free agency, if players intend to develop careers in MLB, they have to get through a termed Positing System which, unfortunately, prevents players from choosing clubs. Ironically, only the players belonging to clubs in the NPB can select or refuse the offers from MLB clubs (Suzuki, 2000). In this sense, in the development of the Japanese professional baseball it is necessary to promote players’ rights. Having given similar concern to such phenomenon in Taiwan, this matter must be considered by the stakeholders within its governance system.


This paper has sought to highlight some of the broad patterns and structures that characterize global professional baseball sports system. The professional baseball industry is developing and evolving very rapidly, creating opportunities and threats that can be captured by other professional baseball leagues in East Asia and Latin America. MLB in the U.S. is confirmed as the core economy within world professional baseball. Non-core leagues such as the NPBL and CPBL have developed dependent relationships with the dominant North American core in terms of the technology, design, production, and marketing of professional baseball business. Meanwhile, Eastern Asia and Latin American countries have constructed reputations as major producer nations, and powerful MLB clubs are constantly scouting for cheaper products those they can import and exploit. The lure of the financial gains accruing from a move to the MLB has offered a strong incentive and is significant in explaining such migration flows. The professional baseball business and the media have come to adhere to he ideologies, structures, and practices of corporate capitalism as they have satisfied each other’s commercial needs. It is evident that global forces, the power of MLB in particular, have been shaping the outcomes of different local professional baseball cultures with a particular focus on the relationship between, migration of players, capitalism, new media technologies, and ideology.


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2018-03-22T11:33:10-05:00March 14th, 2008|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Management, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on The Global Flows of International Professional Baseball System

A Pathfinder of Reference Sources for the Sport of Rowing


Rowing has a long, storied history. It is a popular competitive and recreational sport around the world. Whether on the water, in a boat, or on a rowing machine in a fitness center, rowing has long been championed by physicians and fitness experts as an excellent means of developing physical conditioning. Many sport scholars and fitness experts are knowledgeable about the physiological benefits of rowing and about how to design effective exercise programs, but they lack general historical knowledge about the sport. The purpose of this paper is to provide a useful pathfinder for resources on rowing, with an aim toward providing greater awareness of the sport.


The origins of rowing can be traced to ancient Egypt, where hieroglyphics found in tomb paintings depict men rowing on the Nile. The ancient Greeks and Romans, too, participated in various boating activities, yet their participation was more utilitarian than sporting. Competitive rowing, or crew, is the oldest form of organized collegiate athletic competition in the world, dating to the 19th century. In England, crews from the colleges of the University of Oxford began racing in 1815, while the University of Cambridge’s colleges started fielding teams in 1827. The famed Oxford-Cambridge boat race, which would attract several hundred thousands of spectators, was inaugurated in 1829, and is still held annually. Rowing was introduced to American universities in 1852, when the crews of Harvard and Yale competed in the first organized American intercollegiate athletic contest. College and professional rowing regattas were the most popular spectator sporting events in late nineteenth century America. Rowing maintains a historic position in the sporting world.

Common notions about rowing are that it is an intellectual sport, and its participants come primarily from the gentry. The former is most definitely true, but that latter is, without doubt, a dated stereotype. Rowing has grown in its popularity. Many colleges now field teams for men and women and numerous cities have well-established rowing clubs. The sport has had the imprimatur of the modern Olympics for over a century. With the advent of wind-braked rowing ergometers, the sport has gone indoors. Today, annual national and world championships for rowing are held indoors. The history of rowing is not just one of competitive sport, however, as it has long been championed by physicians and fitness experts as an excellent means of developing physical conditioning. Furthermore, many schools and colleges across America have purchased indoor rowing machines for their fitness centers and physical education courses.

This pathfinder describes some of the abundant material devoted to rowing, with an aim toward providing a greater awareness of the sport. The 43 sources, which include books and Web sources arranged alphabetically in eight categories, are annotated. Full citations for books are provided. Books that are not available in a library can be acquired through interlibrary loan services. Many of the books can be obtained in the online used book market. Fiction and reference works, such as sports dictionaries and encyclopedias, are not included.

Art and Photographic Sources:

Like most sports, rowing is a visual spectacle depicted in art and captured in photographs. Muscular rowers moving oared boats across water can be inspiring.

Cooper, Helen A. (1996). Thomas Eakins: The Rowing Pictures. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery.
A primer on the rowing art of America’s preeminent nineteenth-century painter.

Ivry, Benjamin. (1988). Regatta: A Celebration of Oarsmanship. New York: Simon and Schuster.
An enjoyable salute to the splendor of rowing, with lively writing and wonderful color photography. Contains a chapter about coxswains.

Weil, Thomas E. (2005). Beauty and the Boats: Art & Artistry in Early British Rowing. Illustrated from the Thomas E. Weil Collection. Henley-on-Thames: River and Rowing Museum.
The exhibition catalogue of Weil’s collection of rowing memorabilia, art, and literature–perhaps the world’s finest–that was displayed at the River and Rowing Museum. Descriptions are informal but enlightening, and the color photographs of every item displayed are enriching.


One bibliography is devoted to rowing, and it is a landmark scholarly achievement.

Brittain, Frederick. (1938). Oar, Scull and Rudder. London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press. Rpt. in Herrick, Robert F. Red Top: Reminisces of Harvard Rowing. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1948. pp. 183-248.
Nearly 1,000 sources, many of them annotated, in the only bibliography of rowing literature, compiled by a scholar who authored three books on the sport.

Biographical Sources:

These sources offer insights not only into the varied lives of athletes and coaches, but into the enduring mysteries of rowing. Rowers are passionate about their sport, which offers little glory and less fame, and narratives about tolerating the physical demands and finding the rhythm of moving a boat over water are absorbing.

Boyne, Daniel J. (2000). The Red Rose Crew: A True Story of Women, Winning, and the Water. New York: Hyperion. Reissued in 2005, with a foreword by David Halberstam.
A compelling portrayal of the pioneering crew’s bid for the 1975 World Championships, led by the phenomenal oarswoman Carie Graves and Harvard’s men’s coach Harry Parker.

Halberstam, David. (1986). The Amateurs. New York: Penguin Books.
An exceptional look into the “demonic passion” of elite single scullers and the quest for one spot on the 1984 U.S. Olympic rowing team. The finest book on rowing.

Hall, Sara. (2002). Drawn to the Rhythm: A Passionate Life Reclaimed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.
The winning account of a determined woman’s discovery of competitive sculling and her swift climb to a world championship.

Kiesling, Stephen. (1982). The Shell Game: Reflections on Rowing and the Pursuit of Excellence. New York: Morrow.
Originally the author’s senior thesis in philosophy, this is the primary book about rowing at Yale.

Lewis, Brad Alan. (1990). Assault on Lake Casitas. Philadelphia: Broad Street Books. Reissued in 2002 by Shark Press & JL Designs, Inc.
An engrossing narrative by an iconic figure in American rowing whose uncommon tenacity led him and his partner to a gold medal in the 1984 Olympic double sculls.

Look, Margaret K. (1989). Courtney: Master Oarsman–Champion Coach. Interlaken, N.Y.: Empire State Books.
This enjoyable story about the early years of a tremendous American rower and legendary Cornell coach is told by a seasoned journalist who appreciates the sport.

Newell, Gordon R. (1987). Ready All! George Y. Pocock and Crew Racing. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Primarily about fabled boat builder George Pocock, the book also chronicles the rise of the University of Washington crew as a powerhouse in the first half of the twentieth century.

Pinsent, Matthew. (2004). Two Million Strokes a Minute: A Lifetime in a Race. London: Ebury Press.
His country’s most accomplished rower, Pinsent’s notable journey begins as a novice at England’s foremost prep school and ends with the ultimate honor for remarkable achievement in rowing—knighting by the Queen.

Strauss, Barry. (1999). Rowing Against the Current: On Learning to Scull at Forty. New York: Simon and Schuster.
The engaging narrative of a professor at mid-life who was drawn initially to the sport’s history but finds personal satisfaction and athletic fulfillment as a sculler. Contains suggested readings.

Coaching or Instruction Sources:

These are how-to-row and how-to-get-better-at-rowing sources that describe a range of techniques and philosophies. Helpful primers to getting started and guidebooks to enhanced performance, they contain advice about training and racing on the water and on the ergometer.

Bourne, Gilbert C. (1987). A Textbook of Oarsmanship: A Classic of Rowing Technical Literature. Toronto: Sport Books.
The classic text on rowing technique by an anatomist whose wit and literary ability contribute to its lasting popularity.

Fairbairn, Steve. (1990). Steve Fairbairn on Rowing. London: The Kingswood Press. Originally published in 1951.
One of British rowing’s most famous coaches, Fairbairn wrote numerous “chats” for his crews in the early 1900s. Fascinating statements about motivation, racing, and training were compiled in this book. It will not disappoint.

Kiesling, Stephen. (1990). The Complete Recreational Rower & Racer. New York: Crown.
For the novice rower at any level, the most practical induction to the sport by an accomplished rower and writer. Contains a weekly training schedule, ergometer pace chart, historical time line, and bibliography.

Lehmann, R. C. (1908). The Complete Oarsman. London: Methuen & Co.
An earnest and lengthy look at early nineteenth-century British club, college, and professional daily rowing routines that, without a hint of humor, encourages a pint of beer at lunch and endorses champagne as the antidote for a slump in performance.

Nolte, Volker. (ed.). (2004). Rowing Faster. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics.
A readable compilation of theories and experiences about rigging, training, racing, nutrition, and more by authorities around the world. Contains a chapter for coxswains.

Paduda, Joe. (1992). The Art of Sculling. Camden, Me.: International Marine Pub.
An introduction by an experienced coach whose advice about technique, drills, and workouts is clear and instructive. Contains a glossary of terms.


Databases are excellent resources for locating information, from research studies to book reviews to scholarly essays to popular articles. Access to a database usually requires an institutional subscription.

This subject database offers a comprehensive bibliographic coverage of sports and fitness, including rowing, as well as related disciplines, such as sport management. It contains over nearly 700,000 records dating to 1800, including journal and monograph references as well as theses and dissertations, books, book chapters, conference proceedings, and magazine articles.

Historical Sources:

Rowing is rich with tradition, and portrayals of its customs on and off the water help explain the sport’s lasting appeal as a spectator sport.

Burnell, Richard. (1989). Henley Royal Regatta: A Celebration of 150 Years. London: William Heinemann.
The official account of the renowned British regatta and grand social event that dates to 1839 by a notable oarsman turned rowing correspondent and author.

Cleaver, Hylton. (1957). A History of Rowing. London: Herbert Jenkins.
An authoritative treatment of rowing at every phase in its development, from a British perspective.

Dodd, Christopher. (1983). The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race. London: Stanley Paul.
A rowing reporter who is now considered the sport’s preeminent historian, Dodd selects what he believes the best stories about the historic race, begun in 1829, and writes an informal account that edifies.

—. (1992). The Story of World Rowing. London: Stanley Paul.
The first complete look at the evolution of rowing as a sport and a recreational activity. Contains a bibliography of 140 items.

Herrick, Robert F. (comp.). (1948). Red Top: Reminisces of Harvard Rowing. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
A studious look at Harvard rowing, with essays by knowledgeable writers. Includes Britain’s bibliography.

Kelley, Robert F. (1932). American Rowing: Its Background and Traditions. New York: Putnam’s.
The principal account of the first 80 years of club, college, and professional rowing in the U.S., by The New York Times’ rowing reporter.

Mendenhall, Thomas C. (1980). A Short History of American Rowing. Boston: Charles River Books.
A complete listing of winning crews in essential races from 1852, plus synopses of the stages of American rowing, by a Yale historian known for his understanding of the sport. Contains a glossary of terms.

—. (1993). The Harvard Yale Boat Race, 1852-1924. Mystic, Conn.: Mystic Seaport Museum.
A scholarly treatment of the oldest intercollegiate athletic event in the U.S. that examines the growth of rowing at the two schools and explores academic developments and campus life, while considering the administrators who contributed to the sport’s rise. Contains a glossary of terms and bibliography.

Taylor, Bradley F. (2005). Wisconsin Where They Row: A History of Varsity Rowing at the University of Wisconsin. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press.
Rowing is the oldest intercollegiate sport in Wisconsin, so this carefully researched book covers a great deal of significant history, including the rise of women’s participation in the post-Title IX era.

Web Documents:

Among the web resources other than websites related to rowing, the following documents stand out. Selected for their thorough research and fine writing, they are authored by two rowing history authorities who approach their work with a scholar’s disposition and a journalist’s style to create entertaining and informative resources.

“The Wild and Crazy Professionals,” by Bill Miller
Miller critiques rowing as a sport for gentlemen who competed honorably but fervently under rules of polite sportsmanship, likening the sport’s popular figures to the 1919 Chicago Black Sox.

“The Great International Boat Race,” by Bill Miller
Miller details the 1869 Harvard-Oxford race, placing the event into its proper historical context and arguing that it led to increased interest in rowing at colleges and among amateurs, thereby bringing an end to professional rowing.

“A Brief Time-Line of Rowing History,” by Thomas E. Weil.
Weil highlights key dates in the development of rowing as the first modern sport in this chronology that covers ancient times to the present.

“The Dangerously Neglected Legacy of Rowing,” by Thomas E. Weil.
Weil sincerely questions the rowing community’s general under-appreciation for the sport’s literature, art, memorabilia, and history, then argues persuasively for a greater understanding of its legacy.


Several sites on the World Wide Web are dedicated to rowing. These examples provide reliable information about the sport and, like most Internet sources, they provide links to related sites.

Because the Concept2 rowing machine has become standard equipment in boathouses and fitness clubs, the company’s site serves as the primary source for indoor rowing, from workouts and training to racing schedules.

Friends of Rowing History
Founded in 1992 with an emphasis on North American rowing, this organization’s interest is the preservation of the history of rowing and the celebration of the sport’s past. It features a bibliography and time-line, articles, memorabilia, and other materials of interest to the rowing historian.

George Y. Pocock Rowing Foundation
The George Pocock Rowing Foundation, founded in 1984 and named for innovative shell-builder George Pocock, supports the development and growth of rowing for all ages and skill levels and provides for public and community rowing events, in addition to sponsorship of men and women training for the U.S. National Rowing Team.

Henley Royal Regatta
Henley Regatta, first held in 1839, is the premiere rowing race for high schools, colleges, and clubs in the U.K. andU.S. Originally a one-afternoon event, the regatta now extends 5 days the first week of July, with qualifying races held the week prior due to its popularity.

National Rowing Foundation

The National Rowing Foundation supports athletes who pursue excellence in the sport with the primary goal of promoting U.S. participation in rowing competition around the world, promoting the preservation of rowing history, and managing the Rowing Hall of Fame. Provides a list of every rower who has competed for the U.S.

River and Rowing Museum
The River and Rowing Museum is the leading cultural and educational institution devoted to rowing, with three galleries covering the sport, the river Thames, and the town of Henley. Over 15,000 items are displayed to celebrate events and anniversaries and to depict the sport’s history. A permanent walk-through exhibition of Kenneth Grahame’s classic rowing tale for children, The Wind in the Willows, was recently added.

Daily rowing news, racing calendar, results, features, and photos from races at the high school, collegiate, masters, and national levels in the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada make this site the leading source of information about rowing at all levels.

Schuylkill Navy of Philadelphia

Founded in 1858, the Schuylkill Navy of Philadelphia is the oldest amateur athletic governing body in the U.S. Today, it comprises the ten clubs of Boathouse Row and numerous high schools and college teams.


USRowing is the national governing body for the sport in the U.S. It selects, trains, and manages the American teams competing in international events, including the World Championships, Pan American Games, and Olympics. It also sponsors junior and master’s level national championships.

World Rowing
International rowing events, results, news, and features are the thrust of the site, as are profiles of elite athletes and a photo gallery. Browsers can subscribe, free of charge, to the organization’s magazine and newsletter.

Familiarity with these sources will broaden and deepen an understanding of rowing in sports scholars, fitness experts, and physical educators.

2016-10-12T15:16:54-05:00March 14th, 2008|Sports Coaching, Sports Exercise Science, Sports Management|Comments Off on A Pathfinder of Reference Sources for the Sport of Rowing

Book Review: Senda Berenson: The Unlikely Founder of Women’s Basketball

Senda Berenson: The Unlikely Founder of Women’s Basketball is author Ralph Melnick’s biographical account of Senda Berenson (1868-1954), considered by many to be the founder of women’s basketball. She pioneered gender-specific rules and emphasized skill development and team play. She transformed the sport of women’s basketball from a physical education class for female underclassmen at Smith College to a nationwide, standardized-women’s game with rules formally approved by the American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education and published by Spaulding’s Athletic Library.

Senda Berenson: The Unlikely Founder of Women’s Basketball is a “portrait” of Senda Berenson’s life. In sixteen chapters, the author describes Berenson’s modest upbringing as a sickly, young Jewish immigrant from Lithuania, her aspirations to be an artist, her revolutionary and practical applications towards women’s physical education, and her commitment to making exercise and games social and enjoyable. Berenson believed the new age of women dictated that women’s athletics could be used as catalysts for social change. She believed competition created moral bankruptcy. Berenson condemned personal glory, corporate profit, individualism, and the entrepreneurial spirit reflected in men’s athletics. In qualifying his portrait of Berenson, Ralph Melnick writes:

[T]his book is neither a history of an advancing feminist wave nor a history of early women’s basketball; these stories have been told elsewhere, as has the history of women’s physical education. Rather, it is a step back more than a century, even to those moments before the first ball was tossed at center court, in an attempt to create a portrait of the remarkable women who sent it upward.

Nothing summarizes her better words to her nephew shortly before her death, “Old age is creeping up on me…I suppose that at our age we resign ourselves to the fact that our energy gets weaker and weaker – although I cannot do it with resignation.”

Millions of females throughout the country are reaping the benefits of Berenson’s foresight and fortitude. Her contributions to basketball have solidified her place in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

This book is an ideal text for those interested in the history of women’s sport or in the life of a remarkable American figure.

Author: Ralph Melnick
Published in 2007 by University of Massachusetts Press
(221 pages, ISBN: 1-55849-568-1)

2016-10-12T14:53:53-05:00March 14th, 2008|Sports Coaching, Sports Exercise Science, Sports Management, Women and Sports|Comments Off on Book Review: Senda Berenson: The Unlikely Founder of Women’s Basketball