Is Gambling Preference Affected from Team Identification?

Authors: Necmettin Parlak, Unal Karli*(1),

(1) Unal Karli is faculty member of Izzet Baysal University, School of Physical Education and Sport. His research area is sport management and marketing.

*Corresponding Author:
Unal Karli, PhD.
Izzet Baysal University, School of Physical Education and Sport
Gölköy, Bolu, TURKEY
unal_karli@hotmail.com
mobile phone: +90 505 767 1169

ABSTRACT
The purpose of the present study was to determine whether any relationship existed between team identification levels and gambling preferences of sport consumers who put bets on the games of their supported football team. The subject group of the study was composed of university students (N=223) who were participating in football bets. Turkish version of Sport Spectator Identification Scale (15) and a vignette developed by the researchers, to identify the bettors’ team preferences while placing bets on the games (national league, European league and derby games) of their supported team, were the data collection instruments. According to the 3×2 Two-Way Contingency Table analysis, results pointed that significant relationship existed between the team identification level and betting preferences only in the case of derby games, (χ2(2, N=223), 6.03, p=.04, Cramer’s V= .164). No significant relationship was identified between the team identification levels and betting preferences of the subjects in the cases of national league, (χ2(2, N=223), 3.47, p=.18, Cramer’s V= .125) and European league games, (χ2(2, N=223), 3.92, p=.14, Cramer’s V= .133). As a conclusion, it could be said that team identification is a determinant factor in bettors’ team preferences in derby games. The results of this study would be beneficial in identifying the betting behavior pattern of football gamblers who constitute a huge market in sport industry.

KEYWORDS: gambling, psychological adherence, loyalty, fan behavior, football
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Does Theory of Planned Behavior Explain Taiwan Teens’ Viewing of Televised NY Games With Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang?

Abstract

Taiwan’s Chien-Ming Wang pitches for MLB’s Yankees, his performance drawing Taiwanese viewers to telecasts and making him renowned in Taiwan. The theory of planned behavior was employed to investigate why Taiwanese adolescents watch Wang’s televised games. The proposed model was analyzed with LISREL. Path analysis was performed for five hypotheses, namely (a) belief will positively affect attitude toward the act of viewing a game; (b) attitude toward the act will positively influence intention to watch; (c) perceived norm will positively influence intention to watch; (d) perceived behavioral control will positively affect intention to watch; and (e) perceived norm will positively influence attitude toward the act. The adolescents’ behavior was well explained by the theory, the data supporting all hypotheses.

Does Theory of Planned Behavior Explain Taiwan Teens’ Viewing of Televised NY Games With Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang?

Chien-Ming Wang is a Taiwanese baseball player who currently pitches for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). Wang is one of the league’s best, collecting 19 wins for the Yankees in the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Wang’s spectacular performance with the Yankees has meant increasing numbers of Taiwanese viewers for televised Yankees games—more specifically, for televised Wang games. Games have been televised in Taiwan since 1992, via a satellite sports channel. Their ratings are much higher now than in 1992, especially when Wang is pitching (Hu & Tsai, 2008). In short, it appears that Chien-Ming Wang has taken a place as one of Taiwan’s most famous sports celebrities.

Adoration of celebrities is particularly characteristic of adolescence (Lin & Lin, 2007). Reverence for sports celebrities is one of various forms of such adoration that adolescents often demonstrate (Greene & Adams-Price, 1990). In this study, we attempted to identify exactly what drives Taiwanese adolescents to watch the televised games in which Wang pitches. We used Ajzen’s theory of planned behavior (1985) to try to explain the adolescents’ behavior.

The theory of planned behavior (TPB) has been used in various domains (Chiou, Huang, & Chuang, 2005; Goby, 2006), for example in empirical studies from the field of marketing (Chiou, 2000; Taylor & Todd, 1995). TPB proposes three conceptually independent antecedents of intention: attitude toward the act, perceived norm, and perceived behavioral control (Ajzen, 1985). According to TPB, the attitude toward the act is the degree to which the individual evaluates the particular behavior favorably or unfavorably. The perceived norm describes the individual’s perception of social pressure to perform the act or not perform it. Perceived behavioral control, finally, reflects the extent of the resources for controlling the behavior which the individual perceives him- or herself to have.

TPB is an extension of the earlier theory of reasoned action proposed by Ajzen and Fishbein (1980). The addition of perceived behavioral control distinguishes the two. Perceived behavioral control is a critical factor, because people’s behaviors are strongly affected by how confident they are that they can perform those behaviors (Chiou et al., 2005). Generally speaking, the more favorable a person’s attitude toward an act, and the more strongly the person perceives the act as normative, and the more perceived control over the act, the stronger will be the intention to perform the act.

In addition, the cognitive-affective-cognitive framework proposes that “attitude structure starts with beliefs and is followed by affective response (e.g., attitude) and then cognitive responses (i.e., purchase intention)” (Chiou et al., 2005, p. 319). From this it follows that belief is an antecedent of attitude toward an act. Research has also shown that perceived norm is very likely to affect the formation of attitude (Oliver & Bearden, 1985; Terry & Hogg, 1996). That is, people’s attitudes may be influenced by their significant others.

Based on the literature, we proposed that attitude toward the act, perceived norm, and perceived behavioral control would positively influence Taiwanese adolescents’ intention to watch Wang pitch in a televised game. Furthermore, we proposed that belief and perceived norm would positively affect their attitude toward this act. Our hypotheses were the following:

Hypothesis 1: Belief will positively influence attitude toward the act.

Hypothesis 2: Attitude toward the act will positively influence intention to watch Wang’s game.

Hypothesis 3: Perceived norm will positively influence intention to watch Wang’s game.

Hypothesis 4: Perceived behavioral control will positively influence intention to watch Wang’s game.

Hypothesis 5: Perceived norm will positively influence attitude toward the act.

Method

Participants

Participants were students from two junior high schools, two senior high schools, and two universities (we limited participation at the latter to freshman students). They were sampled in April 2008. Participation was voluntary. The questionnaires were distributed by the participants’ teachers during a regular class meeting. Of 650 questionnaires distributed, 521 usable questionnaires were collected and used for analysis. The age of the participants ranged from 12 years to 20 years, with a mean of 16.11 years and a standard deviation of 2.18 years. There were 278 male and 243 female participants.

Measures

The measures of attitude toward the act, perceived norm, and perceived behavioral control were developed from Ajzen and Fishbein (1980), Azjen (1985, 1991), and Taylor and Todd (1995). The measures of intention to watch Wang’s game were modified from Chiou et al. (2005). Measures of belief were based on a focus group of 5 students; the participants were asked to reveal the most important attributes driving them to view televised games featuring Wang. The results showed that excitement, national pride, and the tension of the game were the most important such attributes. All measures employed a 7-point Likert-type scale.

Table 1

Items Measuring Latent Constructs Derived from Theory of Planned Behavior

Construct Items
Perceived norm
  1. Those who are important to me would consider my watching Wang’s game to be wise.
  2. Those who are important to me would consider my watching Wang’s game to be useful.
  3. Those who are important to me would consider my watching Wang’s game to be valuable.
  4. Those who are important to me would think I definitely should watch Wang’s game.
Belief
  1. To me, Wang’s game is exciting.
  2. To me, Wang’s game is national pride.
  3. To me, Wang’s game is a tension game.
Perceived behavioral control
  1. I have full control regarding watching Wang’s game.
  2. To me, to watch Wang’s game is what I can decide on my own.
  3. It is up to me whether I will watch Wang’s game.
Attitude toward the act
  1. My watching Wang’s game in the future would be favorable.
  2. My watching Wang’s game in the future would be good.
  3. My watching Wang’s game in the future would be wise.
  4. My watching Wang’s game in the future would be useful.
Intention to watch Wang’s Game
  1. I would watch Wang’s game in the future.
  2. The probability that I would watch Wang’s game is high.
  3. To me, (continuing to) watch Wang’s game is the best choice.

Data Analysis

The efficacy of the proposed model was analyzed using SPSS 14.0 and LISREL 8.51. Using LISREL with the maximum likelihood method, we tested the constructs and the measurement model for goodness of fit. A confirmatory factor analysis of the measurement model was conducted. The measurement model examined the relationships between 18 variables and 5 latent constructs (belief, perceived norm, attitude toward the act, perceived behavioral control, and intention to watch Wang’s game). Then, a path analysis was conducted to test whether identified antecedents of intention to watch a televised game featuring Wang reflected our hypotheses.

Results

Descriptive Statistics

The summated means for the constructs were 3.77 (perceived norm), 4.86 (belief), 4.97 (perceived behavioral control), 4.12 (attitude toward the act), and 3.81 (intention to watch Wang’s game). The standard deviations ranged from 1.73 to 1.98 (see Table 2).

Table 2

Mean, Standard Deviation, and Reliability of Constructs

Construct M SD Cronbach’s α
Perceived norm 3.77 1.78 .93
Belief 4.86 1.73 .89
Perceived behavioral control 4.97 1.97 .91
Attitude toward the act 4.12 1.73 .91
Intention to watch Wang’s game 3.81 1.98 .91

Proposed Measurement Model

Overall model fit. The overall fit of the measurement model was found to be good. The root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) value was .072, which is lower than the suggested threshold of .08 (Hu & Bentler, 1999). Additionally, the normed fit index (NFI), non-normed fit index (NNFI), comparative fit index (CFI), goodness of fit index (GFI), and incremental fit index (IFI) scores were .96, .97, .97, .91, and .97, respectively. All were greater than the suggested threshold of .90 (Hair, Black, Babin, Anderson, & Tatham, 2006), and each criterion of fit thus indicated that the proposed measurement model’s fit was acceptable.

Scale reliability. Cronbach’s alpha was used to evaluate the reliability of the constructs. The obtained values were .93 (perceived norm), .89 (belief), .91 (perceived behavioral control), .91 (attitude toward the act), and .91 (intention to watch Wang’s game) (see Table 2). Scale reliabilities for the constructs were acceptable according to the suggested threshold of .70 (Nunnally & Berstein, 1994, p. 265).

Construct validity. Construct validity refers to “the extent to which a set of measured items actually reflects the theoretical latent construct those items are designed to measure” (Hair et al., 2006, p. 776). Both convergent validity and discriminant validity should be achieved in order to fulfill construct validity (Hair et al., 2006). Convergent validity exists when “the items that are indicators of a specific construct . . . converge or share a high proportion variance in common” (p. 776), while discriminant validity indicates whether “a construct is truly distinct from other constructs” (p. 778). Standardized loading estimates above .5 indicate acceptable convergent validity, while evidence of discriminant validity is seen when the variance extracted for two factors is greater than the square of the correlation between the two factors (Hair et al., 2006).

In the present study, standardized loading estimates ranged from .80 to .97, indicating satisfactory convergent validity. In addition, the variance extracted for each construct ranged from .82 to .86, which was greater than the square of the correlation between two factors (which ranged from .30 to .79). Thus the study’s construct validity was also ensured.

Test of the Structural Model

Path analysis was used to test the fit of the proposed paths between constructs. The model fit of the path model was found satisfactory, with the RMSEA measuring lower (.074) than the suggested threshold of .08. The NFI, NNFI, CFI, GFI, and IFI were .99, .99, .99, .98, and .99, respectively, all greater than the suggested threshold of .90. All of the criteria for adequate fit indicated that the fit of the proposed structural model was satisfactory.

Hypothesis Testing

Figure 1. Path-analytic model: Influence on intention demonstrated by perceived norm, perceived behavioral control, and attitude toward act.

The results (see Figure 1) showed that perceived norm, attitude toward the act, and perceived behavioral control generated significant coefficients for intention to watch Wang’s game and also that perceived norm and belief generated significant coefficients for attitude toward the act. The path analysis produced the following measures: βat→iw = .34, t = 7.90, p < .001; γpn→iw = .44, t = 10.21, p < .001; γpbc→iw = .12, t = 4.29, p < .001; γpn→at = .43, t = 15.01, p < .001; and γbe→at = .52, t = 17.93, p < .001, where βat→iw refers to the β coefficient between attitude toward the act and intention to watch Wang’s game, γpn→iw stands for the γ coefficient between perceived norm and intention to watch Wang’s game, γpbc→iw means the γ coefficient between perceived behavioral control and intention to watch Wang’s game, γpn→at indicates the γ coefficient between perceived norm and attitude toward the act, and γbe→at refers to the γcoefficient between belief and attitude toward the act.

Additionally, the square multiple correlations were .68 and .80, respectively, for intention to watch Wang’s game and for attitude toward the act. The data analysis showed support for each of the study’s hypotheses. That is, belief positively affected attitude toward the act (H1); attitude toward the act positively influenced intention to watch Wang’s game (H2); perceived norm positively influenced intention to watch Wang’s game (H3); perceived behavioral control positively affected intention to watch Wang’s game (H4); and perceived norm positively influenced attitude toward the act (H5).

Discussion

Our study showed a goodness of fit for the proposed model that was satisfactory based on the various suggested criteria. All five hypotheses offered for the present study were supported by the data. A brief discussion of each path coefficient follows.

First, belief about the attributes of televised games featuring Wang’s pitching was a positive antecedent of attitude toward the act of watching. Beliefs about game attributes were described in items such as “Wang’s game is exciting,” “Wang’s game is national pride,” and “Wang’s game is a tension game.” As an antecedent of attitude toward act, a relatively strong belief that Wang’s performance was a source of national pride or that Wang’s games were exciting was an indicator of a relatively positive attitude toward watching a televised game featuring Wang.

Second, a participant’s attitude toward the act of viewing a televised game in which Wang will pitch positively influenced his or her intention to watch Wang’s game. This result illustrates that behavior is strongly affected by attitude (Blackwell, Miniard, & Engel, 2006). It follows that the more favorable the attitude toward the act of viewing Wang’s game, the stronger the intention to view it.

Third, perceived norm positively influenced the intention to watch Wang’s game. This relationship implies that peer pressure has an influence on whether adolescents watch a televised game. Such a finding is supported by the concept of the collectivistic society (Hofstede, 1983). People in a collectivistic society usually belong to a few in-groups (Hofstede, 1983). Securing a place in a group is important to adolescents (Chiou et al., 2005), but to be accepted by an in-group’s members (and to remain accepted by them), a would-be member must demonstrate his or her conformity to the in-group’s norms. Thus if an adolescent’s friends enthusiastically follow Wang’s game, it becomes necessary for the adolescent to follow Wang’s game as well, providing all in the group with common conversational themes, for instance. The idea applies similarly to the present finding of perceived norm’s positive influence on attitude toward the act.

Moreover, perceived behavioral control positively affected the adolescents’ intention to watch Wang’s game. This is an indication that perceived behavioral control is a positive antecedent of intention to watch Wang’s game, which is in line with Ajzen’s argument that the individual can be expected to carry out an intention when he or she has sufficient control over the behavior involved (1985). To sum up, the findings of the present study of Taiwanese adolescents’ behavior concerning the viewing of televised games featuring pitcher Chien-Ming Wang suggest that such behavior is well explained by Ajzen’s theory of planned behavior.

An interesting topic for future study would be adolescents’ adoration of sports celebrities. Specifically, researchers could investigate whether and how adoring a sports celebrity moderates the relationship of the variables included in the present study. They might ask, for example, whether the relationship between perceived norm and intention to watch Wang’s game is relatively strong among a group of adolescents who strongly admire or adore Wang, as compared to a group exhibiting less admiration.

References

Ajzen, I. (1985). From intentions to actions: A theory of planned behavior. In J. Kuhl & J. Beckmann (Eds.), Action control: From cognition to behavior (pp.11–39). New York: Springer-Verlag.

Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211.

Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Blackwell, R. D., Miniard, P. W., & Engel, J. F. (2006). Consumer behavior (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson Higher Education.

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Chiou, J. S., Huang, C. Y., & Chuang, M. C. (2005). Antecedents of Taiwanese adolescents’ purchase intention towards the merchandise of a celebrity: The moderating effect of
celebrity adoration. Journal of Social Psychology, 145(3), 317–332.

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Greene, A. L., & Adams-Price, C. (1990). Adolescents’ secondary attachment to celebrity figures. Sex Roles, 23, 335–347.

Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., Anderson, R. E., & Tatham, R. L. (2006). Multivariate data analysis (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Hofstede, G. (1983). The cultural relativity of organizational practices and theories. Journal of International Business Studies, 14, 75–89.

Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6, 1–55.

Hu, W. L., & Tsai, M. H. (2008). The influence of sports-fan ethnocentrism on viewing motivations and behavior of sport broadcast. Physical Education Journal, 41(1), 51–68.

Lin, Y. C., & Lin, C. H. (2007). Impetus for worship: An exploratory study of adolescents’ idol adoration behaviors. Adolescence, 42, 576–588.

Nunnally, J. C., & Berstein, I. H. (1994). Psychometric theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Oliver, R. L., & Bearden, W. O. (1985). Crossover effects in the theory of reasoned action: A moderating influence attempt. Journal of Consumer Research, 12, 324–340.

Taylor, S., & Todd, P. (1995). Decomposition and crossover effects in the theory of planned behavior: A study of consumer adoption intentions. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 12(2), 137–156.

Terry, D. J., & Hogg, M. A. (1996). Group norms and the attitude-behavior relationship: A role for group identification. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22(8), 776–793.

A New Scale Measuring Coaches’ Unethical Behaviors for Comparison by Gender, Age, and Education Level of Coach

Abstract

An effort to develop a scale measuring coaches’ unethical behaviors included two phases. In the first, factor and reliability analyses were made of potential survey items meant to gather data from athletes describing coaches’ behavior. In the second, select items were incorporated in a survey randomly administered to 221 male and female taekwondo competitors at a national competition in 2006, for comparison of behaviors by coach gender, age, and education. Behavior was not found to differ significantly by gender (n = 219, t = 1.71, p > .05), age (n = 216, t = 1.13, p > .05), or education (n = 217, t = 1.60, p > .05).

A New Scale Measuring Coaches’ Unethical Behaviors for Comparison by Gender, Age, and Education Level of Coach

In coaching, a code of ethics is a tool providing a minimum standard of conduct and behavior expected of the coach as he or she develops into a professional. Many other professions, including medicine and law, also expect members to adhere to a behavior code requiring them to do their best and maintain professional standards (Ring, 1992). Codes established for coaches provide common values and guidelines for performing one’s job.

It has been suggested that there is a sensitive relationship between physical education and moral education. Stoll (1995), who is with the University of Idaho Center for Ethical Theory and Honor in Competitive Sports, emphasized that “physical education and athletic programs could be harmonious in promoting the development of sportsmanlike behaviors, ethical decision-making skills, and a total curriculum for moral character development.” Many studies by philosophers of sport concern the relationship of moral education and competition concepts; many conclude that a completed sports education involving both competition and development of an understanding of fair play effects a moral education (i.e., an education in moral values such as honesty, equality, justice, and respect) (Bergmann, 2000; Carr, 1998; Priest, Krause, & Beach, 1999; Singleton, 2003; Spencer, 1993). Sabock (1985) argued that sports provide students an important opportunity to develop ethical behaviors including honesty and fairness. Bergmann (2000) noted a logical relationship between physical education and moral education, one based on students’ understanding of the concept of success and their acceptance of the importance of competitions. Bergmann added that, through competition, students have opportunities to compare their skills and talents to those of others, which motivates them to gain practical knowledge meeting certain standards.

As role models for athletes, coaches can help them develop fair and ethical behavior by demonstrating how these can be applied in sports. Coaches have the capacity to teach and reinforce ethical behavior by athletes and indeed are central to value development in young people, since they are role models of institutional norms (Wandzilak, 1985).

Today, however, unethical behavior exhibited in the course of coaching is decreasing respect for coaches and for sports. Too many coaches approach their duties without adequate regard for values such as honesty, objectivity, and justice. This is so despite the fact that many sports organizations and communities have published codes of ethics that coaches are expected to uphold (American National Youth Sports Coaches Association, n.d.; American Psychological Association, 1992; Australian Sports Commission, n.d.; British Institute of Sports Coaches, n.d.; Canadian Professional Coaches Association, 2003; International Coaches Federation, 2003; Sports Medicine Australia, n.d.; Sports Coach, n.d.). Figure 1 presents a summary of the standards set out by these codes of conduct, classifying them as either a responsibility of coaches or a form of respect coaches are expected to demonstrate.

Responsibility Respect
1. A coach should provide a healthy environment for competition and practice.2. A coach should always work toward personal development, in order to continuously improve his or her job performance.

3. A coach should provide the media and members of the public with correct information.

4. A coach should direct injured athletes to medical treatment and act in accord with medical professionals’ instructions and suggestions.

5. A coach should help athletes with their personal and family problems.

6. A coach’s support should extend to athletes in need, whether or not they are his or her own athletes.

7. A coach should work cooperatively with any expert who might contribute to the development of athletes.

8. A coach should inform athletes of how they should behave during media interviews.

9. A coach should not use training techniques that are harmful to athletes.

10. A coach should select equipment carefully to ensure athletes’ safety.

11. A coach should have the injured athlete’s well-being in mind when deciding whether to permit a return to competition and should never permit return ahead of complete recovery.

12. A coach should assign athletes appropriate responsibilities in order to contribute to their development.

13. A coach should take a protective stance toward athletes when it comes to harmful drugs, by informing athletes about drugs’ dangers.

14. A coach of nonprofessional athletes should schedule practice and competitions that do not interfere with athletes’ need to develop academically.

15. A coach should develop effective ways of communicating to athletes and their families their rights and responsibilities as part of the team.

16. A coach should emphasize education’s importance to athletes, as well as sports’ importance.

17. A coach should instill in athletes the idea that winning results from good team work.

18. A coach should always ensure that athletes receive an explanation of the objectives of training.

19. A coach who disciplines an athlete through punishment should not, in so doing, harm the athlete’s personality.

20. A coach should always explain for athletes the objectives of any rule that will be applied.

1. A coach should have respect for each athlete’s being.2. A coach should avoid behavior that is likely to diminish the respect afforded him or her by the society.

3. A coach should not exaggerate his or her capabilities.

4. A coach should encourage fair play and sportsmanlike behavior.

5. A coach should keep confidential all personal information on athletes (e.g., personal problems, family problems) and all information about the coach’s job (e.g., budget, recruitment policy), unless disclosure is required by law.

6. A coach should emphasize honesty in competition.

7. A coach should respect the rules of competition.

8. A coach should respect written and unwritten rules of fair play.

9. A coach should respect decisions of referees during competitions.

10. A coach should not encourage athletes or spectators to disrespect referees.

11. A coach should always have his or her behavior under control.

12. A coach should not use negative words to criticize other coaches or organizations.

13. A coach should take responsibility in areas in which he or she feels confident.

14. A coach should not criticize athletes publicly or act to hurt them.

Figure 1. Summary of coaching behaviors mandated by various organizational codes of ethics.

When such standards are ignored, unethical coaching behaviors typically fall into four main categories, according to the United States Olympic Committee (DeSensi & Rosenberg, 1996). They are (a) offending athletes verbally or physically, (b) treating athletes inhumanely, (c) encouraging athletes’ use of performance-enhancing drugs; and (d) ignoring the athletic program’s educational goals. In its various forms, unethical behavior in coaching is becoming an important topic in the physical education literature. The present study’s purpose was to develop a valid and reliable scale measuring the extent of unethical behavior by coaches and then to test whether their unethical behavior was associated with gender, age, or educational level.

Method

Sampling and Research Design

The study collected data in 2006 from 221 competitors in a national taekwondo championship, 86 of whom were female (38.9%) and 135 of whom were male (61.1%). The majority of the sample (76.9%) were ages 17 to 23 years. The mean length of their experience in taekwondo was 7 ± 3 years. The average age at which they began high-performance training (attending training camps and national and international competitions regularly) was 8 ± 2 years.

Instruments and Data Collection

The instrument was developed in three phases. First, from a review of the codes of ethics of the American National Youth Sports Coaches Association (n.d.), American Psychological Association (1992), British Institute of Sports Coaches (n.d.), Canadian Professional Coaches Association (n.d.), International Coach Federation (n.d.), Sports Medicine Australia (n.d.), Sports Coach (n.d.), and several Olympic committees, a pool of 48 survey items was created and subsequently analyzed.

Second, with the 48 items providing a basis, an instrument was developed that used a 5-point Likert-type response scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) to assess perceived ethical or unethical nature of coaching behaviors (see Table 1). This instrument was administered to a group of 18 taekwondo coaches, taekwondo players, and faculty members or instructors knowledgeable of the sport. They read each item on the instrument and circled a response. The 18 participants unanimously assigned a score of 5 to 35 of the items, so these 35 were accepted by the researcher as describing unethical behaviors (Balci, 1993). The scale was dubbed the Coaches’ Unethical Behaviors Scale, or CUBS.

Table 1

Score Levels Reflected in 5-Point Likert-Type Scale

Choice Score Level
1 Strongly disagree 1.00–1.79
2 Disagree 1.80–2.59
3 Undecided 2.60–3.39
4 Agree 3.40–4.19
5 Strongly agree 4.20–5.00

In the third phase, the final CUBS instrument of 35 items (with 5-point Likert-type response categories) was administered to the 221 taekwondo contestants. Each item posed a scenario involving coaching behavior; respondents circled the numeral indicating how strongly they agreed that they had experienced their coaches demonstrating the unethical behavior.

Statistical Analysis

The construct validity of CUBS was evaluated using exploratory factor analysis (EFA). EFA seeks to identify a factor or factors based on relationships among variables (Kline, 1994; Stevens, 1996; Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001). The reliability of CUBS was assessed using the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient and Spearman-Brown (split-half) correlation. In order to test whether coaches’ unethical behaviors change with gender, age, and educational level, a t test and one-way ANOVA analysis were applied.

Findings

Factor Structure of CUBS: Construct Validity

Results of exploratory factor analysis assessing CUBS’ validity showed 11 of the 35 items to have a factor loading below .45. These 11 were extracted, and the analysis was repeated with the remaining 24 items. Of these, 14 could be classified as pertaining to coaches’ responsibility for athletes, for rules, and for the integrity of the coaching profession; the 14 became Factor 1. The remaining 10 could be classified as forms of respect coaches are charged with upholding (for example, respect for individuals, personalities, gender, and health). These became Factor 2.

For Factor 1, factor loading ranged from .562 to .847, while for Factor 2 it ranged from .561 to .782. Factor 1 accounted for 50.34% of variance, and Factor 2 accounted for 11.31%, so together the factors accounted for 61.65% of total variance (see Table 2).

Item Factor 1 Factor 2 Communalities Variance
1 .562 .466 .533
2 .589 .424 .527
3 .761 .359 .708
4 .674 .426 .635
5 .719 .352 .641
6 .641 .436 .601
7 .758 .155 .599
8 .747 .192 .594
9 .794 .328 .738
10 .833 0.61 .698
11 .811 .228 .710
12 .720 .285 .600
13 .847 .262 .786
14 .834 .281 .774
15 .777 0.46 .606
01 .211 .675 .500
02 .301 .721 .611
03 .377 .561 .456
04 .236 .667 .501
05 .131 .709 .519
06 .191 .737 .580
07 .308 .782 .706
08 0.94 .753 .576
09 .180 .752 .597

Reliability

The reliability of CUBS was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha and the Spearman-Brown correlation. The Cronbach’s alpha coefficients indicate internal consistency; for the two CUBS subscales administered to the 221 athletes, Cronbach’s alpha was .78 for Factor 1 and .77 for Factor 2. The total internal consistency for the scale was .76. The Spearman-Brown correlation yielded .98 for Factor 1 and .93 for Factor 2. Total correlation for CUBS was thus .92.

Corrected item total correlations, which ranged from .63 to .87, are shown in Table 3, along with t-test scores for the items in CUBS. Statistical significance at a level of p < .01 was attained for each item’s mean score.

Table 3

Corrected Item Total Correlations and t Scores for Items in CUBS

Item Factor 1 Factor 2 t p
1 .67 -7,122 .000
2 .70 -8,587 .000
3 .81 -9,341 .000
4 .77 -10,376 .000
5 .79 -10,645 .000
6 .76 -10,468 .000
7 .74 -9,826 .000
8 .75 -11,786 .000
9 .86 -11,590 .000
10 .78 -9,253 .000
11 .82 -12,238 .000
12 .76 -11,763 .000
13 .87 -14,444 .000
14 .86 -9,477 .000
15 .69 -11,574 .000
01 .67 -11,814 .000
02 .74 -9,108 .000
03 .63 -12,701 .000
04 .66 -10,988 .000
05 .74 -10,084 .000
06 .68 -10,174 .000
07 .74 -12,483 .000
08 .81 -11,849 .000
09 .70 -10,783 .000

Unethical Behaviors of Coaches

Using the data from the surveyed taekwondo competitors, coaches’ unethical behaviors were measured with descriptive statistics (see Table 4). As Table 4 illustrates, the athletes reported they had observed in the behavior of their coaches the 24 unethical behaviors reflected in CUBS, although the values measured for these behaviors were low. Observed unethical behavior did not, according to t-test results, appear significantly dependent on gender (n = 219, t = 1.71, p > .05), age (n = 216, t = 1.13, p > .05), or education level (n = 217, t = 1.60 p > .05).

Table 4

Mean, Standard Deviation, and Percentages for Coaches’ Unethical Behaviors as Indicated by CUBS Respondents

Unethical Behaviors M SD %
Responsibility
1. The coach does not deal honestly with athletes. 1.56 1.01 5.50
2. The coach does not inform athletes about harmful effects of drugs (drug abuse). 1.75 1.14 12.70
3. The coach does not build respectful, effective communication with athletes. 1.60 0.95 4.10
4. The coach encourages athletes’ weight loss via means that may harm their health. 1.75 1.02 7.30
5. The coach does not provide athletes necessary information about training. 1.61 0.98 7.70
6. The coach does not continuously improve his or her professional knowledge and skills. 1.72 1.16 10.90
7. The coach does not care about honesty in competition. 1.80 1.17 10.40
8. The coach does not know the legal regulations relevant to his or her sport. 1.53 1.00 5.00
9. The coach does not have sufficient knowledge of training science. 1.73 1.16 13.6
10. The coach abuses his or her authority as a coach. 1.61 0.99 6.80
11. The coach is not honest about the finances of competition. 1.62 1.04 5.90
12. The coach does not prepare effective training programs reflecting athletes’ ability levels. 1.84 1.11 7.20
13. The coach does not evaluate athletes’ performances as they reflect established goals. 1.66 1.00 5.90
14. The coach does not provide athletes with feedback about their performances. 1.68 0.99 7.20
Respect
1. The coach does not treat athletes respectfully. 1.39 0.95 5.90
2. The coach discriminates among athletes based on gender, religion, or language. 1.44 0.82 3.20
3. The coach curses or uses street language. 1.41 0.77 9.00
4. The coach does not respect the being of the athletes. 1.42 0.76 3.60
5. The coach is not careful to avoid harming athletes’ personalities when using punishment to discipline them. 1.56 0.89 5.50
6. The coach causes athletes physical harm in the course of using punishment to discipline them. 1.61 0.95 7.70
7. The coach discriminates among athletes based on reasons other than individual merit. 1.97 1.22 15.00
8. The coach degrades athletes with insults. 1.52 0.87 6.40
9. The coach becomes publicly angry and displays violence after a defeat in competition. 1.62 1.02 8.60
10. The coach does not respect rules and referees. 1.67 1.04 6.80

Discussion and Results

The present study’s purpose was to develop a valid and reliable scale measuring the extent of unethical behavior by coaches and then to test whether their unethical behavior was associated with gender, age, or educational level. CUBS is such a scale, according to the results of factor and reliability analysis (Kline, 1994; Stevens, 1996; Tabachick & Fidell, 2001).

Data obtained with CUBS were subjected to descriptive statistical analysis that suggested the three most frequent unethical behaviors in coaching are discrimination among athletes based on reasons other than individual merit; lack of technical knowledge; and failure to offer athletes facts about harmful drug use. Coaches’ unethical behaviors did not change to a significant degree with changes in gender, age, or education level, according to ANOVA and t-test results.

Addressing ethical issues is becoming a standard part of a coach’s duties. Increasingly, sports coaches must be able to teach and model fair play, respect for officials, paramount concern for athletes’ well-being (rather than the win-loss record), and the wise and legitimate use of power. At the same time, they must steer athletes away from harmful drug use, cheating, bullying, harassment, and eating disorders. The coach’s position on these issues, reflected in his or her coaching behaviors, has enormous impact on athletes, shaping their enjoyment of sports, their attitudes toward their peers in a sport, their self-esteem, and their continued involvement in sports.

The sports ethicist’s basic goal is to see individuals in sports accept a pertinent ethical code (Wuest & Bucher, 1987) and embody that code in their behavior patterns. The aim for the profession of coaching is each coach’s acceptance of an ethical code for his or her sport, exhibited in daily behavior. A scale like CUBS can not only indicate the level of unethical behaviors coaches engage in, it can point the way to the most urgently needed additions to coach education and development programs.

Knowledge and skills are vital to a profession, but appropriate attitudes and behaviors—professional ethics—are just as important. Professional ethics involve written codes containing rules tailored to specific professions and founded in general moral values like honesty, equality, justice, and respect (Fain, 1992; Pritchard, 1998). Unlike in the past, a workforce today is likely to include people of various races, ages, religions, educational levels, and socioeconomic statuses. They are likely to possess divergent values (Lankard, 1991; Frederick, Post, & Davis, 1988). Inculcating a set of professional ethics ensures that, although they are very different people, members of a profession together espouse common standards and rules designed to protect both themselves and the people they serve. The changing nature of the business world has increased the need for professional ethics, the most important characteristic of which is the need for systems, structures, and management that can secure compliance.

A common understanding of sports is that they consist of various activities people pursue that lead to competition (Penney & Chandler, 2000). In fact, sports is a multidimensional phenomenon. It involves social structures (an indispensable part of human life), and it is based on long-established ethical and value systems (Whitehead, 1998). A number of sports organizations want to see the essential ethical nature of sports brought home to spectators and the society by developing athletes’ and coaches’ ethics (Wuest & Bucher, 1987).

Concern for ethics (or the lack of concern) will have an important role in how sports continues to develop; much of the related work will fall to coaches, who are expected to do their jobs honestly, objectively, openly, and with respect and a sense of justice, tying their work to universal values and principles (Wuest & Bucher, 1999). Coaches who may be held responsible for demonstrating ethical behaviors need, first of all, to understand their sports’ particular ethical codes.

The present study was the very first research conducted in Turkey into unethical behaviors exhibited in coaching. Moreover, to date the literature worldwide has offered few studies on coaches’ unethical behaviors. For this reason, further research employing various designs, with various samples, is likely to contribute to understanding of the topic.

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Sports Tourism in Cyprus: A Study of International Visitors

Abstract

A decline in the number of tourists visiting Cyprus from 2000 to 2007 prompted the Cyprus Tourism Organization to examine sports tourism as a means of appealing to international visitors. Face-to-face interviews were conducted at airports in the cities of Larnaca and Pafos with 802 international tourists departing Cyprus. The respondents were surveyed about their experiences with three types of sports tourism in Cyprus: competitive (elite- and amateur-level athletic training or other preparation as well as competition), recreation (competition without trophy rewards), and leisure (sports-related play or pastimes). Statistical analysis showed most respondents had engaged in swimming, water sports, or other leisure-type sports tourism, with minimal numbers participating in the other two types.

Sports Tourism in Cyprus: A Study of International Visitors

In industrial nations, sports tourism contributes 1% to 2% of gross national product, while the contribution of tourism in general is 4% to 6% (Hudson, 2003). In the United States, the Travel Industry Association (TIA) reports that the crisis in tourism following the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and elsewhere did not extend to sports tourism; the number of sports tourists remained steady (Neirotti, 2005). Although sports tourism has been an emerging trend in the tourism industry only since the mid-1990s (Gibson, 1998; Hinch, Jackson, Hudson, & Walker, 2005), it seems to be one form of tourism not marked by decline during difficult times (Karlis, 2006).

The nation of Cyprus has traditionally relied on the sun and sea in marketing its tourism industry. But a recent steady decrease in tourism in Cyprus (during 2000–2007, visits fell from 2,434,285 to 2,416,086) has the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) considering new approaches to selling its tourism product. A focus on sports tourism is one approach being weighed.

In 2003 the CTO adopted a tourism development plan, and accompanying strategy for implementation, with 2010 as the target date. The plan identified competitive and recreational sports as likely contributors to the achievement of its five objectives: (a) increasing per-tourist expenditure, (b) improving winter season tourism, (c) extending tourists’ stays in Cyprus, (d) increasing repeat visits, and (e) increasing the number of tourist arrivals in Cyprus. The CTO’s plan called specifically for the development of sports services and sports-related human resources and for the organization of sports events.

Research by Papanikos (2002) indicates that countries interested in expanding sports tourism must carefully consider how to go about that task. Building new facilities is not necessarily the right approach to establish a sports tourism market, and Papanikos advises officials like those in Cyprus to pursue extensive research before investing in the sports tourism industry (2002). Thus the CTO, prior to creating its 2010 plan, completed a SWOT analysis—an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats characterizing an enterprise—to evaluate sports tourism’s appropriateness as a major pillar of the strategic plan for tourism in Cyprus (Kartakoullis & Karlis, 2002). The analysis by Kartakoullis and Karlis (2002) indicated that potential existed for developing sports tourism in Cyprus. Strengths and opportunities were plentiful, and the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, would provide a means to educate the international community about Cyprus’s sports tourism potential. The analysis also noted, however, that positioning Cyprus as a sports tourism destination would demand the collaboration of the nation’s tourism and sports industries and experts, given certain internal weaknesses such as lack of existing expertise in sports tourism. Organizations assuming a role in developing sports tourism in Cyprus would be able to administer services effectively only if proper strategic management were provided.

Kartakoullis and Karlis’s SWOT analysis (2002) was the initial study concerning sports tourism in Cyprus. It argued that Cyprus has all the necessary elements of a sports tourism destination, and it comprised a first guide for the CTO and the national government, as well as interested private tourism and sports groups. None of these players had a formal policy on sports tourism, and all were likely to be needed to administer future sports tourism services. A series of issues was identified that the three players would need to consider. The present study grew from those identified issues and represents expanded research on sports tourism’s potential in Cyprus, as called for by Kartakoullis and Karlis.

To suit the present study’s purpose, the definition of sports tourism offered by Gibson, Attle, and Yiannakis (1997)—namely, that sports tourism is travel undertaken in order to participate in recreational or competitive sports—was expanded. A third type of sports tourism, leisure sports tourism, was added. Sports tourism here, then, refers to travel for reasons related to (a) elite or amateur athletic competition, training, or other related preparation; (b) recreation sports, defined as participation in competitive sports without trophy rewards; or (c) leisure sports, defined as play or pastimes involving a sports activity. The study examined the sports tourism experiences of all three types that international visitors to Cyprus self-reported during interviews. Specific objectives of the study were to assess the purposes of tourist visits to Cyprus; to identify sports activities in which tourists participate while in Cyprus; and to explore tourists’ intentions concerning future sports tourism visits to Cyprus.

Procedures

To begin the study, we obtained from the Department of Civil Aviation in Cyprus a list of July and August 2005 departures from the country’s two main international airports, which are in the cities of Larnaca and Pafos. The destinations of the departing flights included the United Kingdom, countries in western Europe, countries in eastern Europe, countries in the Middle East, and other destinations. The four regions and catchall category (other destinations) supplied categories used to ensure that a representative sample of departing tourists would be interviewed. Using the list of departures from the two airports, we prepared a timetable for data collection, covering all destination categories at various times of the day and night.

Keeping to this timetable, a team of trained interviewers conducted 489 face-to-face interviews in Larnaca and 313 in Pafos. An interview lasted approximately 5–10 minutes as the respondent prepared to take a departing flight. The interviewers asked participants a series of quantitative questions, including basic demographic questions as well as questions about the current trip to Cyprus. Respondents were asked about (a) the purpose of their travel to Cyprus, (b) any sports activities they participated in while in Cyprus, and (c) whether their intention was to visit Cyprus again for sports-related purposes. The questionnaire was designed to generate basic descriptive statistics in the form of frequency counts and percentages.

Results

Demographic Characteristics

Males comprised a slight majority of respondents, 51% (n = 407); females comprised 49% (n = 395). The occupational status of the majority of the respondents—65% , or 511 respondents—was white-collar professional or white-collar personnel (see Table 1). British tourists have long been a mainstay of Cyprus’s hospitality industry. In this study, respondents from the United Kingdom, at 62.5% of the sample, characteristically outnumbered those from other nations. German tourists were next most numerous, comprising 8.6% (see Table 2).

Table 1

Respondents’ Occupation Status, Most Represented to Least Represented

Occupation Status Number of respondents indicating this status Percentage of respondents indicating this status
White-collar personnel 374 47
White-collar professional 142 18
Blue-collar worker 139 17
Student 81 10
Retired 35 4
Homemaker 31 4

Table 2

Respondents’ Country of Residence, Most Represented to Least Represented

Country Number of respondents (N = 802) Percentage of all respondents
United Kingdom 501 62.5
Germany 69 8.6
Sweden 48 6.0
Norway 42 5.2
Ireland 27 3.4
Greece 19 2.4
Netherlands 17 2.1
Switzerland 13 1.6
Israel 11 1.4
Denmark 10 1.2
Hungary 9 1.1
Russia 9 1.1
Belarus 3 0.4
Austria 2 0.2
Bahrain 2 0.2
Canada 2 0.2
Hong Kong 2 0.2
Iran 2 0.2
Japan 2 0.2
Jordan 2 0.2
Oman 2 0.2
United States 2 0.2
Other countries 6 0.7

Current Trip to Cyprus

The largest percentages of tourists interviewed for the study had secured accommodations (for the main part of their current stay in Cyprus) in the tourist destinations Pafos (sometimes spelled Paphos) (39%) and Ammohostos (38%) (see Table 3). The next most popular sites for accommodations were Limassol (sometimes called Lemesos) (11%) and Larnaca (9%). Three percent of those interviewed had stayed mainly in the capital city of Nicosia, which, while it is a business center, is not widely considered a place for tourists (see Table 3). Fully half of the respondents had stayed 6 to 10 days in Cyprus; another 29% had spent 11 to 15 days on the island (see Table 4).

Table 3

Site of Respondents’ Main Accommodations in Cyprus, Most to Least Popular

City Number of respondents (N = 802) with accommodations in city Percentage of respondents with accommodations in city
Pafos (Paphos) 312 39.0
Ammohostos 306 38.0
Limassol (Lemesos) 92 11.0
Larnaca 71 9.0
Nicosia 21 3.0

Table 4

Duration of Respondents’ Visits to Cyprus, in Days

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Days Number of respondents (N = 802) Percentage of respondents
1-5 126 16.0
6-10 398 50.0
11-15 232 29.0
More than 15 46 6.0

The respondents were asked the reason for their current travel to Cyprus and were allowed to offer more than one reason. Including the multiple responses, 864 reasons for visiting Cyprus were recorded for the 802 respondents (see Table 5). The most common reason was tourism/recreation; 87.8%, or 704 respondents, said they traveled to Cyprus for that purpose (see Table 5). A reason involving sports tourism specifically was given by 16 respondents, or 2.0%. (The breakdown by type of sports tourism was as follows: recreation sports tourism, 1.2%, and competition sports tourism, 0.8%, with 0.4% of the latter representing preparation for competition and 0.4% representing actual participation in competition.)

Of the 16 respondents who traveled to Cyprus for sports tourism purposes, 13 were male and 3 were female (see Table 6). The largest percentage of people visiting Cyprus in order to pursue sports-related activities were aged 20–29 years; the next largest group of sports tourists were aged 60 or more. All respondents indicating they had visited Cyprus for sports tourism purposes were from western Europe (see Table 8). Those who came because of sports competitions stayed in Cyprus 11–15 days, whilst those who came to prepare for competition spent 6–10 days (see Table 8).

Table 5

Purpose of Respondents’ Current Travel to Cyprus, Most to Least Common (Sports-Related Purposes Shaded)

Number of respondents stating this purpose Percentage of all respondents
Tourism/recreation 704 87.8
Business 72 9.0
Visiting relatives 32 4.0
Attending a wedding 20 2.5
Visiting friends 18 2.2
Recreation sports tourism 10 1.2%
Competition sports tourism—actual competition 3 0.4%
Competition sports tourism—preparation 3 0.4%
Attending a funeral 1 0.1%
Honeymooning 1 0.1%

Note.Because respondents were not limited to a single purpose for travel, 864 responses were recorded for the interview item on purpose of travel. To obtain the percentages in the column headed “Percentage of all respondents,” the number of respondents stating a particular purpose (middle column) was divided by 802 (the sample size). The right-hand column entries total 107.7% (= 864/802). For the same reason, entries in the middle column of Tables 6-13 do not equal 802 and entries in the tables’ right-hand columns do not equal 100%.

Table 6

Purpose of Respondents’ Current Travel to Cyprus, by Gender

Male Female
Number of male respondents stating this purpose (n = 407) Percentage of male respondents stating this purpose Number of female respondents stating this purpose Percentage of female respondents stating this purpose
Tourism/recreation 354 87.0 350 88.6
Business 52 12.8 20 5.1
Visiting relatives 14 3.4 18 4.6
Attending a wedding 10 2.5 10 2.5
Visiting friends 5 1.2 13 3.3
Recreation sports tourism 8 2.0 2 0.5
Competition sports tourism—actual competition 2 0.5 1 0.3
Competition sports tourism—preparation 3 0.7 0 0.0
Attending a funeral 0 0.0 1 0.3
Honeymooning 1 0.2 0 0.0

Note. See note for Table 5.

Table 7

Purpose of Respondents’ Current Travel, by Age (in Years), as Percentage of Respondents in Each Age Group n

Percentage of those < 20 years old (n = 43) stating this purpose Percentage of those 20–29 years old (n = 210) stating this purpose Percentage of those 30–39 years old (n = 233) stating this purpose Percentage of those years old 40–49 (n = 168) stating this purpose Percentage of those years old 50–59 (n = 96) stating this purpose Percentage of those > 60 years old (n = 52) stating this purpose
Tourism/recreation 90.7 88.1 88.4 83.9 89.6 90.4
Business 2.3 12.4 8.2 11.3 5.2 3.8
Visiting relatives 7.0 1.9 2.6 6.5 5.2 5.8
Attending a wedding 0.0 1.9 5.6 0.6 2.1 0.0
Visiting friends 0.0 1.9 2.1 3.6 1.0 3.8
Recreation sports 0.0 2.4 1.3 0.0 1.0 1.9
Competition sports tourism—actual competition 0.0 1.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Competition sports tourism—preparation 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.6 0.0 0.0
Attending a funeral 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Honeymooning 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0

Table 8

Purpose of Respondents’ Travel, by Country of Residence, as Percentage of n

Percent of those from the United Kingdom (n = 501) stating this purpose Percent of those from Western Europe (n = 249) stating this purpose Percent of those from Eastern Europe (n = 23) stating this purpose Percent of those from the Middle East (n = 19) stating this purpose Percent of those from other countries (n = 10) stating this purpose
Tourism/recreation 86.45 92.0 95.7 68.4 70
Business 8.6 7.6 8.7 21.1 40
Visiting relatives 4.4 2.8 4.3 5.3 10
Attending a wedding 3.4 1.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Visiting friends 3.4 0.0 0.0 5.3 0.0
Recreation sports 1.4 1.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Competition sports tourism—actual competition 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Competition sports tourism—preparation 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Attending a funeral 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Honeymooning 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

Note. See note for Table 5.

Respondents’ Sports Activities While Visiting Cyprus

Most respondents (85.8%, or 688 individuals) indicated they had participated in some type of sports experience during their visit to Cyprus (see Table 9); 114 respondents said they did not participate in any type of sports in Cyprus (14.2%). Swimming was most widely participated in (by 82.9%, or 665 respondents), followed by water sports (24.7%, or 198 respondents), and soccer (7.2%, or 58 respondents). For males and females alike, swimming and water sports were the top two sports pursued. In the subsample of females, however, it was beach volleyball rather than soccer that was the third most popular sports activity.

Visitors from the United Kingdom and western Europe tended to participate more in sports activities while in Cyprus than did visitors from eastern Europe or the Middle East (see Table 11). Visitors who stayed mainly in Ammohostos and Pafos were most likely to have participated in sports during their time in Cyprus; those staying in Nicosia were least likely to have (see Table 12). Finally, those respondents staying in Cyprus for more than six days showed the highest rate of sports participation during a visit (see Table 13).

Table 9

Sports the Respondents Participated in While in Cyprus, Most to Least Commonly

Number of respondents stating this sport Percentage of respondents stating this sport
Swimming 665 82.9
Water sports 198 24.7
No sports activity 114 14.2
Soccer 58 7.2
Cycling 56 7.0
Beach volleyball 52 6.5
Tennis 51 6.4
Orienteering 34 4.2
Golf 12 1.5
Jogging 10 1.2
Gymnastics 6 0.7
Aerobic exercise 4 0.5
Fishing 3 0.4
Bungee jumping 2 0.2
Equestrian sports 2 0.2
Miniature golf 2 0.2
Parachuting 2 0.2
Bowling 1 0.1
Go-Karting 1 0.1
Diving 1 0.1
Judo 1 0.1
Karate 1 0.1
Table Tennis 1 0.1

Note. See note for Table 5.

Table 10

Sports the Respondents Participated in While in Cyprus, by Gender, as a Percentage

Percentage of males stating this sport Percentage of females stating this sport
Swimming 80.8 85.1
Water sports 27.5 21.8
No sports activity 14.7 13.7
Soccer 13.8 0.5
Cycling 8.4 5.6
Beach volleyball 4.2 8.9
Tennis 7.9 4.8
Orienteering 3.9 4.6
Golf 2.5 0.5
Jogging 1.5 1.0
Gymnastics 0.7 0.8
Aerobic exercise 0.0 1.0
Fishing 0.5 0.3
Bungee jumping 0.2 0.3
Equestrian sports 0.0 0.5
Miniature golf 0.2 0.3
Parachuting 0.0 0.5
Bowling 0.0 0.3
Go-Karting 0.2 0.0
Diving 0.2 0.0
Judo 0.2 0.0
Karate 0.2 0.0
Table Tennis 0.2 0.0

Note. See note for Table 5.

Table 11

Sports the Respondents Participated in While in Cyprus, by Country of Residence, as a Percentage

Percentage of visitors from United Kingdom stating this sport Percentage of visitors from Western Europe stating this sport Percentage of visitors from Eastern Europe stating this sport Percentage of visitors from Middle East stating this sport Percentage of visitors from other countries stating this sport
Swimming 82.2 84.3 82.6 73.7 100.0
Water sports 26.7 22.1 21.7 21.1 0.0
No sports activity 15.0 12.4 17.4 21.1 0.0
Soccer 9.6 4.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Cycling 8.6 4.8 4.3 0.0 0.0
Beach volleyball 8.4 3.6 4.3 0.0 0.0
Tennis 5.6 8.4 0.0 10.5 0.0
Orienteering 5.2 2.4 0.0 5.3 10.0
Golf 1.6 1.6 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jogging 0.8 2.0 0.0 5.3 0.0
Gymnastics 0.8 0.4 0.0 5.3 0.0
Aerobic exercise 0.2 0.8 4.3 0.0 0.0
Fishing 0.4 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Bungee jumping 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Equestrian sports 0.2 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Miniature golf 0.2 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Parachuting 0.2 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Bowling 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Go-Karting 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Diving 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Judo 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Karate 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Table Tennis 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0

Note. See note for Table 5.

Table 12

Sports Participated in While in Cyprus, by Site of Main Accommodations, as a Percentage

Percentage of visitors to Pafos stating this sport Percentage of visitors to Ammohostos stating this sport Percentage of visitors to Limassol stating this sport Percentage of visitors to Larnaca stating this sport Percentage of visitors to Nicosia stating this sport
Swimming 81.1 90.5 76.1 77.5 47.6
Water sports 21.2 30.1 25.0 21.1 9.5
No sports activity 14.1 8.8 21.7 19.7 42.9
Soccer 12.5 3.6 4.3 4.2 4.8
Cycling 13.5 1.3 5.4 7.0 0.0
Beach volleyball 11.5 2.6 8.7 0.0 0.0
Tennis 9.9 3.6 5.4 4.2 4.8
Orienteering 5.8 3.6 1.1 5.6 0.0
Golf 2.6 0.3 1.1 1.4 4.8
Jogging 1.0 2.0 1.1 0.0 0.0
Gymnastics 0.3 0.7 1.1 1.4 4.8
Aerobic exercise 0.0 1.0 0.0 1.4 0.0
Fishing 0.0 0.7 0.0 1.4 0.0
Bungee jumping 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0
Equestrian sports 0.0 0.3 1.1 0.0 0.0
Miniature golf 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0
Parachuting 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0
Bowling 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 0.0
Go-Karting 0.0 0.0 1.1 0.0 0.0
Diving 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Judo 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Karate 0.0 0.0 1.1 0.0 0.0
Table Tennis 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0

Note. See note for Table 5.

Table 13

Respondents’ Participation in Sport Activities by Duration of Stay (in Days), as a Percentage

Percentage of visitors staying 1–5 days stating this sport Percentage of visitors staying 6–10 days stating this sport Percentage of visitors staying 11–15 days stating this sport Percentage of visitors staying more than 15 days stating this sport
Swimming 69.8 86.4 84.1 82.6
Water sports 17.5 23.6 30.6 23.9
No sports activity 28.6 11.3 11.6 13.0
Soccer 11.1 7.5 4.7 6.5
Cycling 4.8 8.8 4.7 8.7
Beach volleyball 10.3 7.8 3.4 0.0
Tennis 4.8 6.8 7.3 2.2
Orienteering 4.8 4.0 3.0 10.9
Golf 2.4 1.8 0.9 0.0
Jogging 0.8 1.5 1.3 0.0
Gymnastics 1.6 0.8 0.4 0.0
Aerobic exercise 0.8 0.5 0.4 0.0
Fishing 0.0 0.3 0.4 2.2
Bungee jumping 0.0 0.3 0.4 0.0
Equestrian sports 0.0 0.3 0.4 0.0
Miniature golf 0.0 0.3 0.4 0.0
Parachuting 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0
Bowling 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.0
Go-Karting 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0
Diving 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.0
Judo 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0
Karate 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0
Table Tennis 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.0

Note. See note for Table 5.

Intention to Visit Cyprus Again to Participate in Sports Tourism

The respondents were asked during their interviews whether it was their intent to visit Cyprus again in order to participate in sports tourism; 87% said they did intend to do so, and 13% indicated they had no intention of returning to Cyprus to participate in sports activity at any future time.

Discussion

A major limitation of the study was that data were collected only during the summer months. Data collected in the winter season might generate different results, because Cyprus also features mountainous regions, like Troodos, where winter sports like cross-country and alpine skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are available. Conducting a similar airport-interview study during the winter months would be interesting.

In any case, the summer study results indicate that few sports tourists come to Cyprus to pursue either the competition (whether actual competition or training or preparation for competition) or recreation types of sports. And it certainly is no surprise that most sports tourists in Cyprus are leisure sports tourists. The climate and the beaches of Cyprus provide ample opportunities to pursue leisure swimming and water sports, and these were indeed the sports activities most widely pursued by the respondents in our study.

The study generated information that may be useful for the further development of sports tourism in Cyprus. For example, the data show that sports tourists tend to come to Cyprus from the United Kingdom and western Europe. As Weed and Bull have suggested (2004), the proximity of Europe to Cyprus should support growth in sports tourism by Europeans in Cyprus. The CTO’s sports tourism marketing strategies in Europe, then, might promote Cyprus as a sports tourism destination. (The marketing strategies for eastern Europe and the Middle East might follow suit.)

Particular CTO campaigns targeting Europe and other regions should address the fact (supported by our data) that many who visit Cyprus engage in leisure sports activities rather than competitive or recreation ones. More competitive and recreation sports tourists might be drawn to the country if its resources for competitive and recreation sports tourism were actively marketed. The experience of the United Kingdom’s Olympic team, which trained in Cyprus prior to the Athens Games, offers a starting place. After the Games had concluded, the British Olympic performance manager, Richard Simmons, commented that “We made the right decision to choose Cyprus as not just our training base for the Athens Olympic Games but also our warm weather training centre of operations for at least the next ten years. Cyprus now offers great training facilities for a huge range of sports, and is blessed with wonderful weather and a superb environment. Athletes and coaches from whatever the sport and whatever level could not choose a better place” (Simmons, 2005).

The benefits of a plan to build sports tourism in Cyprus would extend to the nation’s citizens as well as tourists (Hall, 2000). Whether or not new sports facilities are part of it, such a plan can be expected to point the way to development of local economies as well as to citizens’ increased use of improved sports services and available facilities. Our data show that most respondents say they would return to Cyprus specifically for sports tourism experiences. There is, then, potential for Cyprus to become a sports tourism destination, enjoying the financial impact such tourism can bring. The Cyprus Tourism Organization might consider moving in a direction that develops and broadens Cyprus’s sports tourism role.

References

Cyprus Tourism Organization. (2003). Tourism development strategy and implementation plan: 2003–2010. (Available from the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Lemesou Ave. 19, P. O. Box 24535, CY 1390, Lefkosia, Cyprus)

Cyprus Tourism Organization. (2007). Annual report 2007. (Available from the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Lemesou Ave. 19, P. O. Box 24535, CY 1390, Lefkosia, Cyprus)

Gibson, H. (1998). Sport tourism: A critical analysis of research. Sport Management Review, 1(1): 45–76.

Gibson, H. J., Attle, S., & Yiannakis, A. (1997). Segmenting the active tourist market: A life span perspective. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 4(1): 52–64.

Hall, C. M. (2000). Tourism planning. New York: Prentice Hall.

Hinch, T., Jackson, E. L., Hudson, S., & Walker, G. (2005). Leisure constraint theory and sport tourism. Sport in Society, 8(2): 142–163.

Hudson, S. (2003). Sport and adventure tourism. New York: Haworth Press.

Karlis, G. (2006, September). Assessing the needs of “sport volunteer tourists” at the Olympic Games: Implications for administrators of mega sport events. Keynote address presented at the 14th congress of the European Association for Sport Management, Nicosia, Cyprus.

Kartakoullis, N. L., & Karlis, G. (2002). Developing Cyprus as a sport tourism destination: The results of a SWOT analysis. Journal of Sport Tourism, 7(4): 1–16.

Neirotti, L. D. (2005). Sport tourism markets. In J. E. S. Higham (Ed.), Sport tourism destinations: Issues, opportunities and analysis (pp. 1–16). Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK: Elsevier.

Papanikos, G. (2002, May). Tourism in Greece. Paper presented at the meeting of the OKE (Economic and Social Council of Greece), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Simmons, R. (2005, February). Choosing a pre–Olympic Games training destination. Paper presented at the meeting of the Cyprus Tourism Organization, Nicosia, Cyprus.

Weed, M., & Bull C. (2004). Sports tourism: Participants, policy and providers. New York: Elsevier Butterworth Heinemann.

Characteristics Contributing to the Success of a Sports Coach

Abstract

Identifying particular characteristics (qualities and abilities) of successful sports coaches could offer other coaches help in improving their performance. Toward this end, 15 high school coaches completed a survey on 17 possible such characteristics, ranking 5 of them above the rest (≥ 90th percentile): quality of practice, communicating with athletes, motivating athletes, developing athletes’ sports skills, and possessing knowledge of the sport. Coaches seeking to enhance their success might focus on these characteristics.

Characteristics Contributing to the Success of a Sports Coach

I have coached interscholastic sports for over 20 years, and I believe I have done a good job. But is what I have done sufficient to define me as a “successful” coach? Or have I lacked some characteristic needed to be a success? If so, how can I identify and develop that characteristic?

A natural place to start is by defining successful and characteristic as they will be used in this paper. According to Merriam-Webster, the noun characteristic is “a distinguishing trait, quality, or property” (Merriam-Webster, 11th ed.). The same source defines successful as the condition of “gaining or having gained success” and success as a “favorable or desired outcome.” As the word is used in this paper, a characteristic is also a skill or ability needed to accomplish a desired task, while the adjective successful also indicates a good, excellent, superior, or winning status.

Why is it important to identify the characteristics of successful coaches? One way to answer that question is by asking why people coach. Most people coach because they enjoy working in sports and with athletes. Most appealing about the relationship with athletes is assisting them in achieving their goals. To achieve goals, athletes need skill and knowledge—and someone to introduce this skill and knowledge competently. To return to the original question of why we should identify the characteristics of successful coaching, if helping athletes is one of the reasons people coach, and if it were known exactly the coaching characteristics that promoted athletes’ achievement, wouldn’t coaches use those characteristics? Acquiring skills and knowledge would allow the coach to be part of a beneficial transfer of information to the athlete, assisting in the success of each.

But how can the characteristics that are essential in a successful coach be identified? Based on personal experience? Selected at random? In preparing this paper, the two approaches have been combined: A reasonably long list of characteristics likely to contribute to coaching success was developed, and a target group of high school coaches was asked to rank the characteristics’ importance.

Specifically, 17 characteristics were proposed, and the coaches rated them 1 (least important ) to 5 (most important), for three distinct levels of play, Little League, high school, and college. Those characteristics receiving the highest scores were then chosen for research and discussion. This survey of coaches was an unbiased way to find out or identify the characteristics that the survey sample believed are most useful to coaches at each level.

The topic of successful coaching and personal characteristics of successful coaches is well covered by the research literature. Most such information presented in books, magazines, and other periodicals appears somewhat sport-specific, but some articles are stand-alone pieces on defined aspects of those coaching characteristics required for success. From sport to sport, characteristics defining successful coaching may not be identical, but they do share a number of similarities. An example of these similarities appears in a series of books published by the American Sport Education Program, a division of Human Kinetics publishing of Champaign, Illinois. The books, while sport-specific, share a common emphasis on the importance of fundamental coaching skills: communication, motivation, practice planning, and developing and evaluating athletes. (Again, in this paper, a characteristic may be an ability or a skill as well as a distinguishing trait.)

McCloskey (1999) discusses several coaching methods that can greatly improve a coach’s competence and at the same time enhance player learning. According to McCloskey, methods a competent coach should be able to employ include monitoring and developing athletes’ skills, motivating athletes by providing positive reinforcement, and offering helpful feedback by communicating with athletes to assess their understanding of lessons and expectations and to check the progress of the coaching. Sport to sport, these three methods consist of essentially the same process, thus some of the characteristics required for successful coaching overlap.

The research suggests that in all kinds of sports, there are characteristics that successful coaches share. What are they? The survey conducted for the present study showed the top five characteristics of successful coaches are (a) the quality of practices, (b) communicating with athletes, (c) motivating athletes, (d) developing athletes’ sports skills, and (e) possessing strong knowledge of the sport. How can a coach obtain these characteristics? Most coaches learn from experience, from trial and error. But for those who do not yet have much experience, the deficit can be made up for with knowledge.

Definition of terms

Quality of Practice

Quality of practice includes the content of a practice session what goes on during the practice situation. Content includes but is not limited to teaching requisite skills, transferring knowledge (information), and undertaking conditioning. Quality of practice also reflects the frequency and duration of practice. How often teams or individuals practice is the frequency, while the duration is the length of time practice sessions last. A coach must decide how often and how long athletes should practice to develop skills and knowledge most effectively. The timing of practices affects their quality, so coaches must also tailor practice to the season. In the preseason, a practice is usually shorter and emphasizes conditioning. During the season practices are longer (at least in the beginning, though they often get shorter as the end of the season nears), because so many materials typically need to be covered.

Communicating with Athletes

For coaches, communication often means making one’s point clear to athletes. Getting points across is essential to players’ success. The coach’s capacity to transfer knowledge (information) affects the outcome of both single contests and entire seasons. Then, too, communication is a two-way street. Successful coaches can interpret feedback given to them by players (and others) and use the feedback in making decisions. Feedback can result in subtle or drastic adjustments or none at all.

Communication and feedback can sometimes be nonverbal. Coaches and players often recognize each others’ states of mind simply by observing mannerisms and gestures. If their characteristics include skill at communicating, they can use nonverbal cues to promote success.

Motivating Athletes

The ability to motivate athletes is a desirable trait that not every coach possesses. A fairly elusive ability, motivating athletes is nevertheless a tool of the trade among successful coaches, who use it to help athletes play to their fullest potential. The amount of motivating players may need from a coach depends on the degree of both their ability and their desire. But even a high level of desire and ability does not guarantee success.

Developing Athletes’ Sports Skills

In every sport, at every level, performance depends on fundamental skills. During athletes’ developmental years, repeated drills in the fundamentals are essential. The purpose of repeating skills during practice is to make their use during competition a habit, done naturally and without much conscious thought. Successful coaches (and teachers) know the order, or progression, in which fundamental skills may be taught most effectively. Easier skills are taught first, at the entry level of play, while more difficult skills are taught at more advanced levels of play.

Possessing Knowledge of the Sport

A coach should know as much about his or her sport as possible, because knowledge of the sport is the most important factor in overall coaching success. Such knowledge can be gained through education and experience, but knowledge is more than just knowing rules and regulations. It is also the ability to draw on all one’s resources to make the right decisions.

Review of Literature

Quality of Practice

The ability to ensure the high quality of practice—which incorporates the quantity of practice as well—is a successful coach’s most important characteristic (Pavlovic, 2007). Practice quality involves all activities of the players during practice time, whatever practice time’s frequency and duration. The ability to plan practice time efficiently is another important coaching characteristic. Successful coaches continually seek ways to improve the content of practices, incorporating new information in the practice plans. Pugh, Wolff, Defrancesco, Gilley, and Heitman (2000) suggest five ways to improve the quality of practice: Vary the drills used to develop athletes’ skills (less repetition of particular drills, though not of drilling); limit portions of the practice during which players are not participating actively (i.e., when they stand around waiting); limit practice to 90 min 2 times per week; address demonstrated weaknesses rather than working exclusively on the same fundamentals; and use more scrimmage games in practice.

Communicating with Athletes

Coaches with good communication skills seem to succeed in getting the most from players. The characteristic of communicating ideas to players clearly is one that successful coaches rely on. Communication breakdowns mean undelivered messages, so coaches and players who want to achieve established goals must talk and listen to each other. Mahoe (2007) suggests five points for coaches seeking to make their points with athletes successfully. First, have a plan that includes clear understanding of who it is that must be communicated with. Second, know what it is that needs to be communicated; exactly what is the point of your question or comment? Third, consciously determine when and where a message can best be delivered (e.g., at practice or a game; before, during, or after the practice or game). Fourth, understand why you want the message communicated, what its importance is or how it may help players succeed. Finally, consider how messages and information would be most appropriately communicated (i.e., in a demonstration or in illustrations).

Evans (1995) argues that successful coaches develop relationships with their players in order to teach and motivate them best. The two-way communication in such relationships means both coach and players can learn from each other. The trust developed through such relationships often provides those involved with a unique and rewarding experience.

Motivating Athletes

Hansen, Gilbert, and Hamel (2003) explained at length the many benefits of motivation as a coaching tool. Coaches above all seek to help athletes realize personal potential (Hansen, Gilbert, & Hamel, 2003). Beyond knowing how to analyze players’ strengths and weaknesses, coaches must also have a sense of how to overcome weaknesses and build on strengths by motivating the players. There are many different forms of motivation, and Hansen, Gilbert, and Hamel argue that because motivation is so complicated, it challenges all coaches working on all levels of play. (See the section on survey results; supporting Hansen, Gilbert, and Hamel, the surveyed high school coaches indicated that the ability to motivate athletes is equally important at the Little League, high school, or college level.) Hansen, Gilbert, and Hamel also bring up the relationship between coach personality and the characteristic of motivating players. If motivating players effectively is dependent on inherent personality, then this characteristic may be one that cannot be acquired through education.

Developing Athletes’ Sports Skills

Coaches must be able to critique players’ skills and make the proper recommendations to help players improve. What goes into critiquing differs by level of play, because coaches’ judgment must weigh players’ developmental levels, both physical and mental. As athletes mature, practice skills can become more physically challenging and complicated. Splete (2002) supports these ideas, stressing that skill development should be age (i.e., developmentally) appropriate. A coach evaluating athletes’ progress must take into account each player’s gender, age, weight, and strength. The coach must also understand that sport readiness depends on three basic neurodevelopmental components: (a) the attainment of basic motor skills, (b) social development (ability to interact with others), and (c) cognitive aptitude (understanding of instructions, strategy, and tactics) (Splete 2002). With these variables in mind, the coach can choose the drills that are right for the athletes.

Knowledge of Sport

Coaches need to know more than just Xs and Os and rules of the game. Coaching knowledge encompasses a broad range of information, for example which drills are best suited to athletes’ developmental level and most likely to improve their skills. Coaches must know how to condition athletes (and how to rehabilitate injured athletes) safely. They must know how to run a productive practice and how to make adjustments in game situations. Without mastering communication and motivational skills, they will not get their points across to players. The list of things a coach must have knowledge of is endless. But knowledge alone does not guarantee success. It is important that a coach understands when, where, and how to use information effectively.

A coach who lacks knowledge in a given area can develop it by educating himself or herself. Clinics, seminars, and classes are available, or, less formally, understanding can be developed by watching videos or reading books and periodicals on the topic of interest. One area a coach should be well versed in is athletic injuries. According to Oakland (2001), injuries are an inevitable part of athletic participation, making basic knowledge of first aid necessary for all coaches. In most sports-related emergencies, medical professionals will not be available immediately, so the coach must be prepared to make decisions.

Education is only part of the approach to strengthening coaching knowledge. Experience—actual hands-on practice—is a great substitute if education opportunities are not readily available. Nevertheless, the ideal situation would be for a coach to possess a combination of both education and experience.

Survey Results

This study’s first purpose was to identify characteristics that are associated with successful coaching. A survey of 15 high school coaches was employed to eliminate personal bias in the selection of the characteristics to be researched. The participants were asked to rate 17 proposed characteristics on a scale from 1 (least important) to 5 (most important). Furthermore, the coaches were asked to rate each characteristic as it related to three different levels of play, Little League, high school, and college. The five characteristics receiving highest scores in the survey were, in this order, quality of practice, communicating with athletes, motivating athletes, developing athletes’ sports skills, and possessing knowledge of the sport (see Figure 3). For all three of the levels of play, each of these five characteristics scored above the 90th percentile. They were thus the five characteristics selected for investigation. Interestingly, the top five characteristics are all skills (see Table 1); furthermore, they are skills that are by-products of both education and experience.

Proposed characteristics receiving lower scores in the survey than these five are not necessarily unimportant to coaching success. A coach pursuing excellence is in actuality well served by a combination of many characteristics, even those that scored low on the survey. Figure 2 includes a representation of low-scoring characteristics (shown in yellow). At first glance, years of experience coaching other sports might seem less important than what a coach has achieved in the primary sport. It should be remembered, however, that even a coach inexperienced in a given sport could still, if he or she needed to coach players in that sport, draw on previous experiences in coaching other sports. Many similarities do exist between sports, as is especially apparent when looking at four of the top five characteristics and applying them to any sport. Furthermore, should a coach initially lack familiarity with the details of a sport, the coach could certainly resolve to educate himself or herself in order to address weaknesses in knowledge.

A second low-scoring characteristic is the coach’s winning record. Its score of 27 in the survey reflects differences related to the level of play. At the Little League level, the coach should be more concerned with players’ skill development than with the winning record. In the tellingly titled article “A Successful Losing Season,” Sites (2007) discusses the importance of improvement. Even during a losing season, a Little League team that shows improvement along the way is successful; conversely, even during a winning season, a team that does not show improvement is unsuccessful, according to the author. But at the collegiate level, a coach must consider the ramifications of a losing season. Successful college coaches with several winning seasons have been known to lose their jobs when those seasons are followed by a single losing season. Money is, of course, the name of the game on this level, as in professional play. Boosters and fans do not spend their money on, and do not want to be associated with, losing teams.

Among the characteristics receiving middle-range scores in the survey were education, certification, and experience (see Figure 2). The acquisition of these characteristics is essential to the successful coach and should not be overlooked. However, these three characteristics are less important at the Little League level, according to the survey, than at the high school and college levels. One possible reason is the general shortage of Little League coaches, people who donate their time and effort for few if any material rewards. Because securing Little League coaches is already a challenge, those coaches’ need for education, certification, and experience may be overlooked. But should it be?

The importance of developing athletes’ sports skills was rated just as high at the Little League level of play as at the high school and college levels. Should not the physical and mental development of children be the most important concern during their formative years?

Figure 4 presents the relative importance of characteristics for each of the three levels of play. The 15 respondents assigned a score of 1–5 to each of the 17 characteristics, for a maximum score of 1,275. The characteristics were rated least important for coaches at the Little League level (score 841), more important for those at the high school level (score 1,048) and most important for those at the college level (score 1,103). The numbers also indicate the necessity of competence in all areas on the more advanced levels of play.

Significance and Limitations of the Survey

Coaches on all levels of play and in all types of sports can benefit from the findings of this paper. By working to develop in themselves the five top characteristics identified by this survey, coaches will become more successful. Ultimately, the one who may gain most from increasing success is not the coach but the player.

Limitations of the survey include the fact that participants were not asked to identify themselves, so their gender, race, age, and experience were not taken into consideration when reviewing the data. The survey results might have been affected by the makeup of the sample. A better way to validate the data would have been to target a specific group of coaches (i.e., women coaches, men coaches, coaches in a particular age range, coaches of particular races, assistant coaches, head coaches, experienced coaches, inexperienced coaches).

Another possible limitation is bias among the coaches surveyed, all of whom coached at the high school level. Between the Little League and high school levels of play, there was a large gap in the overall importance of coaching factors (841 vs. 1,048, a difference of 207). A possible reason for the gap is that high school coaches may consider themselves more qualified than Little League coaches. Similarly, the smaller gap between the scores for high school and college (1,048 vs. 1,103, a difference of 55) suggests that perhaps high school coaches consider themselves to be just as qualified, in some areas, as college coaches. Had Little League and college coaches participated in the survey, it is possible the results would have differed.

Conclusion

The characteristics ranked by the survey participants are important for coaching success, and perhaps there are additional characteristics that would also serve coaches in their quest to become successful. Those could be the focus of further study. So could the issue of whether a characteristic is beneficial in and of itself or works in combination with another characteristic or characteristics. Some interaction seems, even from the present research, to exist between characteristics. For example, knowing how to go about developing athletes’ sports skills was a factor in quality of practice. And, it would appear that motivating athletes would depend to a considerable degree on skill at communicating with athletes. Finally, knowledge of the sport, as an all-encompassing term, includes all of the identified characteristics, not just the highest scoring characteristics.

Whatever characteristics a coach possesses, success is not guaranteed if the coach does not feel a need to improve. Successful coaches continually look for ways to improve. Inexperienced coaches can and should improve their characteristics through education; the resources are plentiful. Both inexperienced and experienced coaches who lack certification or licensure of some sort should have to obtain it before being allowed to coach. Even if many coaching positions are vacant, as at the Little League level, athletes’ (children’s) safety must not be overlooked. Not only should instruction in first aid and CPR be a required qualification for all coaches, in this day and age, a background check of each candidate may also need to be considered.

References

Evans, C. (1995). Five steps to a positive coach-player relationship. Scholastic Coach and Athletic Director, 64(6), 86. Retrieved June 5, 2008, from the Gale General OneFile database.

Hansen, B., Gilbert, W., & Hamel, T. (2003). Successful coaches’ views on motivation and motivational strategies. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 74(8), 44–48. Retrieved May 29, 2008, from the Gale General OneFile database.

Mahoe, S. (2007). Five ways to improve communication with your players. Coach and Athletic Director. 76(7), 44. Retrieved June 5, 2008, from the Gale General OneFile database.

McCloskey, M. J. (1999). Successful sports coaching: Guidelines for adults in children’s recreational activities. Childhood Education, 75(5), 308–310.

Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary (11th ed.). (2003). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.

Oakland, D. (2001, August). Coaches and injured athletes. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 76(9), 12. Retrieved June 6, 2008, from the Gale General OneFile database.

Pavlovic, S. (2007). Ten qualities of a successful coach. Coach and Athletic Director, 76(9), 58–59. Retrieved May 29, 2008, from the Gale General OneFile database.

Pugh, S., Wolff, R., Defrancesco, C., Gilley, W., & Heitman, R. (2000). A case study of elite male youth baseball athletes’ perception of the youth sports experience. Education, 120(4), 773–783. Retrieved from the SPORTDiscus database.

Splete, H. (2002). Developmental stages of sports readiness can’t be rushed. Family Practice News, 32(17), 33. Retrieved June 6, 2008, from the Gale General OneFile database.

Table 1

Number of Surveyed Coaches Identifying a Coaching Characteristic as Important at Three Specified Levels of Play

17 Characteristics of Successful Coaches Little League High School College Total Percentage of all respondents
High school education 57 71 72 200 88.9
College education 36 67 73 176 78.2
Certification 62 68 68 198 88.0
Athletic experience
in high school 52 66 57 175 77.8
in college 36 58 68 162 72.0
Coaching experience (in years)
In primary sport 39 57 63 159 70.7
In other sport(s) 32 39 41 112 49.8
Numerous coaching achievements 26 41 47 114 50.7
Strong win-loss record 27 37 52 116 51.6
Skills
Quality of practice 67 73 75 215 95.6
Scheduling, care of facilities 50 61 66 177 78.7
Event management 40 57 65 162 72.0
Communicating with athletes 68 74 72 214 95.1
Motivating athletes 67 71 73 211 93.8
Developing athletes’ sports skills 70 71 69 210 93.3
Possessing knowledge of one’s sport 61 73 73 207 92.0
Organizational skills 51 64 69 184 81.8
841 1,048 1,103

Figure 2. Importance of 17 coaching characteristics, according to 15 individuals working as coaches at the high school level.

Figure 3. Top five characteristics of successful coaches according to 15 individuals working as coaches at the high school level.

Figure 4. Relative importance of coaching characteristics for Little League, high school, and college levels