The Use of Sport Art for the Development of Olympic Education: Passing the Visual Torch

> “The Olympic Games are not just ordinary world championships but a four-yearly festival of universal youth, ‘the spring of mankind,’… multiple ambitions in all forms…To the ancient Greeks, the Olympics were as much a matter of art as athleticism.”
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, Founder of the Modern Olympic Games

Since the beginning of the Olympic Games, sport and art have been partners in communicating Olympic values, and this powerful educational partnership continues today. Defined in the 1800s by its founder, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the purpose of the Modern Olympics is to promote the physical, psychological, and peaceful cultural improvement of man and nations through sport. More effectively than any other vehicle, sport art brings the spirit of the Games to the masses in line with the democratic principles of Olympism. Only a few select athletes can experience the thrill of participating in Olympic sports. However, everyone can enjoy and be inspired by viewing Olympic art.

The Olympic Movement is the greatest sport and social movement in human history. The Modern Olympic Games revived the Ancient Olympic Games. They have survived world wars. They have survived economic collapse. Time and again, in the face of adversity, the Olympic Movement perseveres. Looking ahead to challenges facing National Olympic Committees, art emerges as a powerful tool for the success and education of future generations in Olympism.

The recent IOC publication of the book, Olympic Posters, is a great resource for teaching Olympism. Posters offer a quick history lesson because dates, places, art styles, and often sports stars are clearly shown. Olympic Games promotion is focused on the youth market, and posters are an effective tool because they are within most young people’s budgets and are popular displays in young people’s rooms.

It might seem unlikely that a simple paper item like a poster would be significant in a fast-paced technological age, however, it is because posters are not fleeting that they retain their teaching edge. You cannot turn them off, and their batteries do not run out. A poster on your wall is a message that keeps on educating. If a picture is worth a thousand words, an appealing Olympic poster’s symbolic message in the person of an exciting athlete is worth a thousand lectures about building character. The posters chosen for discussion here have been selected for their ability to communicate specific milestones in Olympic history or shifts in world culture, and these qualities make them particularly useful as educational tools.

The first official Olympic poster was not printed until 1912. Program covers from prior Games were later printed as posters and contain valuable educational information on early Olympic practices. The Official Report cover for the first Olympics of the modern era, the 1896 Athens Games, is a symbolic portrayal of the connection of Ancient Games to Modern. A manifestation of Coubertin’s vision, the Modern Olympic Games were a vehicle for peace and democracy and strictly amateur. Thirteen nations participated in the first games. The athletes were mostly affluent American and Greek college students. During these Games, Spiridon Louis, a Greek postal worker, won the first Olympic marathon in 2 hours, 38 minutes, and 50 seconds.

The image now printed as the official poster for the 1900 Paris Games is a poster originally designed for the Paris World Exhibition. Even though 22 nations participated in those Games, because of the concurrent schedule, some athletes at the time were unaware that they were competing in the Olympics. Swimming events took place in the Seine River. The poster featuring a woman fencer is fitting, as it advertises the first Games in which women athletes were allowed. An American golfer was the first woman to win an Olympic event.

The 1904 Olympic Games became another upstaged, this time by the St. Louis World Fair. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt changed the host city from Chicago to St. Louis to ensure that the Games would be held along with the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition. Noting the event’s famously festive mood, one reporter dubbed the event “a fair where there are also sports.” Because many people still thought of St. Louis as the dangerous “Wild West,” attendance from those outside the United States was minimal. Of the 554 athletes, 432 were Americans. At the St. Louis Games, basketball was held as a demonstration sport, while men’s golf was an official event.

The 1908 Games were held in London. Rome had been scheduled to host the fourth Olympic Games, but a volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius changed the site to London. Rome would not host the Games until 1960. In 1908, the London Games were attended by 23 nations and 2,000 athletes and were the first Olympic Games in which the top three finishers earned medals. Several other firsts occurred there. The Olympic motto was coined: It’s the participation that counts, not the winning. Figure skating became an Olympic sport. The first medals were awarded for works of art inspired by sport in the fields of architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture. Depicted on the program cover, Shepherd’s Bush stadium played a part in another first. The official 26-mile, 385-yard marathon length was adopted so that athletes starting at the stadium would finish for easy royal viewing in front of the Royal Box.

The 1912 Stockholm Games produced the first planned and executed official Olympic poster. The main job of early posters was to announce and advertise the Games. The 1912 poster was printed in 16 nations and shipped to 30 different countries for display. The partial nudity of the athlete portrayed, a nod to Ancient Olympic Games, caused international controversy. The flag sequence, representing the march of the nations, was also an issue of dispute. Over 3,800 athletes from 28 nations participated in those Games, including the first entry by Japan. For the first time, competitors came from all five parts of the world later symbolized in the five Olympic Rings first shown at the 1920 Games. When Sweden refused to hold boxing events because the violence of the sport infringed on its neutrality philosophy, the IOC issued a rule to limit powers of local organizing committees and took control of event selections. The 1912 Games also saw breakthroughs in technology and sport, including the public address system and stop watches.

The 1920 Antwerp Games were the first Olympic Games after World War I. Athletes from Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, and Turkey were excluded. At those Games, the Olympic Oath, a solemn promise made by one athlete who represents all competitors, was reinstated from the Ancient Games. The Olympic Flag was adopted with its five-colored interlocking rings that symbolize fraternity among nations and the five participating continents. At those Games, hockey was first included, paving the way for future Olympic Winter Games. For the Antwerp Games, the IOC began to invite countries rather than individual athletes. Those Games were the largest to date in terms of participating countries.

Paris, home of Olympic founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin, hosted its second Games in 1924. This was Coubertin’s last Olympics as President of the IOC. A new Olympic motto, Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger) was used for the first time. In 1928 in Amsterdam, Holland’s Prince Hendrik opened the largest Games to date in a newly-built, 40,000-spectator stadium that established a tradition of a 400-meter running track. Prince Hendrik introduced a giant results board, now standard for all international competitions. The Dutch also introduced the Olympic flame, which now burns throughout each Olympiad. Women were allowed to compete in track and field events for the first time. For the first time since World War I, Germany was allowed back in the Games. The 1928 poster, the rarest of all Olympic posters, sells for approximately 18,000 U.S. Dollars, and is the first to feature the Olympic Rings that have appeared on all following official posters. The streamlined Deco design of the poster marked the shift from ancient to modern styles and reflects a machine age obsession with speed. This poster does not display specific dates for the Games. Posters no longer needed to provide schedules for an isolated public. Telegraph, radio, and then television could relay the news much faster than print.

The 1936 Games, known as “Hitler’s Games,” originally were to be hosted by Barcelona, but the IOC changed this because Spain was on the brink of civil war. In newly selected Berlin, Adolf Hitler opened the Games in a highly politicized atmosphere, a trend that would continue throughout the 20th century. At the 1912 Stockholm Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin had said, “great people have received the Torch… and have thereby undertaken to preserve and… quicken its precious Flame.” The flame symbol was reconfigured as a Torch Relay at the 1936 Berlin Games. The relay has preceded all Olympic Summer Games since. The 1936 opening ceremonies featured a release of pigeons, a symbol of peace, which also has endured as a standard feature at the Games. Closed circuit television, that would eventually transform the Modern Olympic Games, was introduced for the first time. Jesse Owens, a sprinter from Ohio State, won four gold medals, tied the world record in the 100 meters, set world records in the 200 meters and long jump, and anchored the 400-meter relay. Owens, an African American and top athlete, symbolized the spirit of Olympism, upsetting the political myth of Aryan supremacy, and manifesting Coubertin’s vision of equality.

Although Olympic Games, scheduled for Berlin, Tokyo, and Madrid respectively, were not held in 1916, 1940, and 1944 due to World Wars, the Olympic history of those years is preserved in art. Cristóbal Gabarrón’s sculpture, “The Atlanta Star,” 26 pillars of painted Balboa steel, was installed at the centennial 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. It represented the political, social, and athletic aspects of the 100 years of Games, including those cancelled due to war. “The Atlanta Star,” commissioned by the United States Sports Academy, honors the dark war years, as well as the many freer, happier years of the Games.

In 1948, the Olympic Games returned to London. Britain’s King George VI opened the Games with a great ceremony at Wembley Stadium. Athletes from 59 nations were housed in military barracks throughout the country, and food was rationed. China sent a team to the Summer Games for the last time until 1984. However, there would be representation from Taiwan in the interim. Once again, Germany and Japan were required to sit home. In a great media breakthrough, over 250 broadcasters aired the Games in more than 40 languages. Those were the last Games at which medals were awarded for works of art inspired by sport. In London, Bob Mathias (USA) won his first of two gold medals in the decathlon at the age of only 17. At the same time, Alice Coachman (USA) set the high jump Olympic record and became the first black woman to win gold. The 1948 London Olympic poster shows the British Museum’s Townley Discobolus statue, and the Big Ben clock set to the Games’ start time of 4 o’clock. Both are icons of the city and cultural references to the Games’ traditions.

In 1952, Helsinki hosted the largest Olympiad to date, with 69 nations and nearly 5,000 athletes participating. A new state-of-the-art facility was constructed, including a beautiful Olympic Village. Germany and Japan again entered the Games. The Soviet Union entered its first Olympics. The poster from the cancelled 1940 Finnish Games featuring Finnish runner, Paavo Nurmi, holder of 33 distance world records, was revised to suit the 1952 Games. In 1952, Czech, Emil Zatopek, the “Iron Locomotive,” won the 5,000; 10,000 meters and marathon.

Melbourne’s 1956 Olympics were the first held in the Southern Hemisphere. However, the Olympic equestrian events were held in Stockholm, because an Australian government regulation banned animals from entering the country. The Stockholm Equestrian Games featured 158 athletes from 29 nations. Two official posters advertising the two segments of the Games display different dates to compensate for the difference in seasons between hemispheres. While in Melbourne, the United States dominated Olympic track and field, sweeping the sprints and hurdles. Charlie Dumas cleared seven feet in the high jump, Harold Connolly won the hammer throw, and Al Oerter won the first of four golds in discus. At the same time, Olympians from the Soviet Union, led by Vladmir Kuts winning the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, became poised to take over as the leaders in Olympic track and field. In the meantime, Hungarian, Lazlo Papp, won his third straight boxing title.

The 1960 Rome Games integrated historic architecture with modern facilities. The 1960 Games were the largest Olympiad to date, with 83 nations and nearly 5,500 athletes, and featured the first Paralympics. Heralding a new media era, the Games were televised worldwide. Television revenue has escalated at a staggering pace ever since. In 1960, CBS paid USD 394,000 for television rights. NBC is now paying USD 5.7 billion to broadcast the Olympics in the U.S. from 2000 to 2012. In the Rome Games, the first sign of doping was observed when cyclist, Knut Enemark Jenson of Denmark, died from a drug overdose. Politics surfaced when South Africa was expelled from the Olympic Movement until 1992 for its racist apartheid policy. The stylized 1960 Rome poster depicts a wolf suckling Romulus and Remus atop a Classical column, creating a modern Olympic visual tribute to the history, culture, and art of Rome.

In 1964, Tokyo was the world’s largest city and became the first Asian city to host the Games. Tokyo boasted modern hotels and arenas. The Japanese won every architectural award for sport facilities. The Games cost in excess of USD 2 billion to stage. Japan’s national sport, judo, was designated an official Olympic event. The 1964Tokyo poster was the first Olympic photography poster, showcasing Japan’s advances in photography and printing. The models featured were multi-racial members of the U.S. Air Force, reflecting the 1960s Civil Rights movement in the Games’ message. At those Games, Native American, Billy Mills, set an Olympic record in the 10,000 meters, the first U.S. gold in the event.

The 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games were the first to be held in North America outside the United States. These Games were also the first held at high altitude (7,573 feet above sea level) and staged in the gigantic 150,000-seat Aztec Stadium. For the first time, more than 100 nations (112) participated. Bob Beamon (USA) set the long jump record at 29 feet, 2.5 inches, and Al Oerter (USA) won discus for the fourth consecutive time. The 1968 Mexico poster was designed to evoke the fabric patterns of the Huichole Indians, an example of how Olympic posters can educate others about host cultures.

The 1972 Munich Games, “The Happy Olympics,” as they were called, contradicted the nickname when racism, boycotts, and terrorism erupted. The 1972 Munich Games turned tragic when the Black September terrorist group killed 11 Israeli athletes held captive in the Olympic Village. A funeral ceremony was held at the stadium the following day, but the Games continued. USSR dominated the Games, led by Valery Borzov, who won the 100 and 200 meters. USA swimmer, Mark Spitz, won seven gold medals in seven world record performances. However, overall poor performance by the U.S. at those Games became an impetus for the formation of the United States Sports Academy. The Munich poster shows the Olympiaturm, a communication tower signifying advances in technology and modernization of Olympic images.

Canada was awarded the 1976 Montreal Games in a selection process marked by a bidding war between the Soviet Union and the United States. Those and the following two Games were marked by boycotts, Montreal with 21 African nations protesting New Zealand’s participation in an earlier rugby competition against South Africa. Taiwan was refused entry into the Games under their chosen name, Republic of China. The Montreal Games left Canada with a USD 600 million debt. Still, those Games were not without exceptional performances. Alberto Juantorena (Cuba), “The Horse,” won the 400 and 800 meters, and gymnast, Nadia Comaneci (Romania), scored a perfect 10 seven times. The poster prominently displayed the Olympic Rings only, a simple design indicative of the logo-like corporate designs that would come to dominate contemporary posters.

The Soviet Union was awarded the 1980 Moscow Games; however, the Games were boycotted by the United States and some 62 other nations, including Japan and the Federal Republic of Germany. In spite of these conflicts, the Moscow Games saw 33 world records broken. Aleksandr Dityatin (USSR) won eight medals and received the first perfect 10 for a male gymnast. The poster, which featured a stylized running track in the shape of a building topped by a red star, continued the trend toward simple, stylized design images.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan opened the Los Angeles Games to a record 141 nations and more than 7,000 athletes. The Games were boycotted by The Soviet Union and 16 other countries. The two Irelands competed as one; the two Koreas considered doing the same; and the People’s Republic of China entered the Games for the first time. The winning bid for the Games did not come from a national, state, or local government. It was put together by a free enterprise system headed by Peter Ueberroth, a Los Angeles travel agent, whose business savvy may have single-handedly reversed the backward economic slide of the Modern Olympic Games. Such a process had not been undertaken since 1896. Carl Lewis (USA) won the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and 400 meters relay. Joan Benoit (USA) became the winner of the first women’s marathon. The 1984 poster’s five stars symbolizing high goals are cut from photographs of cultural U.S. images and are repeated to indicate multiple competitors and speed.

The year 1988 marked the first Paralympic Games to take place at the same venue as the Olympic Games. The Seoul Olympic facilities were built from scratch, and every competition site boasted an exceptional cleanliness. Nineteen world and seven Olympic records were broken. Despite the success, Seoul will always be remembered as “The Doping Olympics.” Three winners in weight lifting and a Canadian sprinter, Ben Johnson, were stripped of gold medals for testing positive for steroids. In those Games, tennis returned as an event, this time featuring the world’s professional tennis players. Florence Griffith-Joyner (USA) broke the world record in the 200 meters with a time of 21.34, and also won the 100 meters and 4×100 relay. The groundbreaking 1988 poster signifies the dawning of the computer age, now a major factor in the development of Olympic education. This poster image expresses harmony between tradition and technological advancement.

Barcelona put on a gold medal show in 1992 by recapturing the splendor of the historic maritime city. They removed urban factories to build an Olympic Village with parks and shops, and minimized pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. A record 172 nations participated in the first Games since 1972 without a boycott. Soviet Republics entered the Games as the Unified Team and dominated competitions with 112 medals. South Africa was welcomed back after the 1991 moratorium on apartheid. Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA) won her second straight heptathlon and Javier Sotomayor (Cuba) cleared eight feet in the high jump. Sotomayor’s record still stands. The poster image heralds the future of technology in Games media with its brand-like logo. Today the key means of communicating facts about the Games are television and online news.

In 1996, Atlanta hosted the Centennial Olympics. As in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympiad, the Games were won by a bid entered by enterprising businessmen, this time led by Billy Payne. A record 197 nations committed to participate, including North Korea in its first entry. There were 10,788 athletes who vied for gold metals. The entire face of Atlanta was changed by the construction of such venues as the Centennial Olympic Stadium and the Olympic Park. The Olympic Village ultimately became residential housing for Georgia State University and Georgia Tech University. The Centennial Olympic Stadium for track and field events was converted into Turner Field baseball stadium for the Atlanta Braves. Centennial Olympic Park is still in use. The Games cost USD 1.8 billion to stage, USD 500 million of which was American taxpayer dollars. The poster of a Greek profile in modern Matisse cut-out style was created by designer, Primo Angelli, who also became responsible for the design of the 2012 London logo.

The 2000 Sydney Games marked the second time the Olympic Summer Games were held in the Southern Hemisphere, the first being Melbourne in 1956. In those Games, Greco-Roman wrestler, Rulon Gardner (USA), defeated Alexandre Karelin (Russia), who had won golds in Seoul, Barcelona, and Atlanta. Before his match with Gardner, Karelin was undefeated for 13 years. The Australian poster shows a shadowy Sydney Opera House topped by leaping Aboriginal symbols indicative of heightened worldwide respect for first nation cultures.

The 2004 Athens Games, the “Internet Olympics,” marked the first time that major broadcasters were allowed to serve video coverage over the worldwide web. IOC President, Dr. Jacques Rogge, described these Games as the “unforgettable, dream Games.” The motto was, Welcome Home, reflecting the first time since 1896 that the Olympic Games were held in Greece. Those Games saw an unprecedented focus on security. Seventy thousand police officers were on hand, costing organizers an estimated USD 1.2 billion. A simple olive branch in blue and white on the poster symbolizes the Greek countryside and the country’s historic involvement with the Games. The olive branch is a symbol of Athens and was the traditional award to Olympic champions during the Ancient Olympic Games.

Also useful for Olympic education, the Olympic Winter Games posters are in many ways just as, if not more visually breathtaking than those of the Summer Games. In 1948, the Winter Games returned to St. Moritz, the site of the 1928 Olympic Winter Games, the first true Winter Games, which replaced the Nordic Games. The 1948 poster shows tanned skiers and a bright, large Alpine sun. The image emphasizes nature’s dominance over man.

The 1984 Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo were branded the “Friendly Games,” and did not hint at the fighting that would tear Yugoslavia apart eight years later. The 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Games in Norway marked the first and only time to date that the Games were staged two years apart, as the IOC chose to move the Winter and Summer Games to separate four-year schedules. Hometown star speed skater, Johann Olav Koss, won the 1,500, 5,000, and 10,000, setting world records in all of them. His extraordinary gift of all his winnings to Olympic Aid inspired a flood of $18 million in donations over 10 days. Though the Bosnian War raged as the Games took place, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s four-man bobsled team consisted of one Croatian, two Bosnians, and a Serbian—another example of the Olympic code’s contributions to peace.

As the Games evolve, so does the poster art used to promote them. The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics poster, with its fresh, vibrant colors and contemporary design, is an example of how Olympic posters are an opportunity for the host culture to influence young people of the world. The Sochi 2014 logo is an even better example. The Sochi logo takes this computerization one step further by being the first logo to feature a Games’ website ( It aims to advertise the Games and to entice the people of the world to look further for information, thus leading people to a vast online directory of Olympic history and philosophy.

In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Summer Games, 11,028 athletes from 204 nations competed. The Games were a source of national pride for the Chinese, and offered hope for long-term reforms in environmental policy. Those Games cost an estimated USD 15 billion to stage, but produced revenues in excess of USD 16 billion. In Beijing, swimmer Michael Phelps (USA) won eight gold medals, and Usain Bolt (Jamaica) set world records in the 100 and 200 meters sprints. The official poster for Beijing was designed cooperatively by students from about 266 colleges and universities in China. The upcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London have yet to reveal an official poster; but the logo, created by the designer of the 1996 official poster, Primo Angelli, continues in the modern tradition of streamlined corporate design. In the logo, the five boroughs of London are stylized to form the numbers 2012.

Today, the Olympic Movement faces a new challenge: finding relevance in a fast paced, digital age. IOC president, Jacques Rogge, said that, “If we don’t adapt to the changes of our youth, we are lost. We are a movement of young people.” Thus, Rogge proposed a Youth Olympic Games in 2001. The first event is scheduled to take place in August 2010 in Singapore. The poster for the Youth Olympic Games prominently displays the Games’ website.

The power to represent the identity and principles of an event is imparted intentionally by the artists in their choice of symbolic images as well as coincidentally by events when historic milestones happen at specific Games. The three pillars of the Olympic Movement are sport, culture, and the environment. Olympic art educates the viewer in Olympic values by telling the story of its times in artistic shorthand and continuing to echo the concepts shaping the event in the public’s collective mind in the years to come.

### Works Consulted

McGeachy, A. (1996, July 22). “Images that Captivate,” Sports Illustrated, pp. 34-36.

Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. (2008). Retrieved from, (2010). Retrieved from,

Olympic Museum. (2007). Olympic Games Posters. Retrieved from,

Rosandich, T. P. (1996). The Atlanta Star. Daphne, AL: United States Sports Academy.

Trouble on the turn: How Trainers View the Financial Viability of California Horseracing


Horseracing was once the most popular spectator sport in the United States. With the legalization of Native American casinos and the proliferation of Internet gambling, attendance at racetracks, including those in California, has fallen to record low levels. The current recession has weighed even more negatively on the industry. This paper examines the economics of racing in the nation’s most populous state from the perspective of the trainer, who operates the stable and determines when and where a racehorse will run, and under what circumstances. Over 20,000 Californians are directly employed in the horseracing industry, and their continued livelihood depends largely on whether trainers are willing to ride out uncertain times or relocate to states where the cost of operating thoroughbred racing stables is lower. Utilizing personal interviews, a group of California-based horse trainers were surveyed in order to gain insight into how they view the current business climate as well as other factors impacting the sport. The results indicated that trainers share a number of common concerns, particularly with regard to lower purses, a declining owner base, and synthetic racing surfaces. All have faced challenges in maintaining profitable stables, yet display resilience in terms of staying the course and retooling the traditional business model.

Key Words: Horseracing, Trainer, Synthetic Track, Costs, Diversification


Long considered the “Sport of Kings,” horse racing in recent years has experienced dramatically lower attendance and an aging fan base (8). Once prominently featured on the front page of sport sections throughout the state, it is increasingly rare to discover in-depth newspaper coverage beyond major racing events such as the Triple Crown or Breeders’ Cup. Hollywood Park, a premier racing venue in southern California, cut purses in 2009 on average five percent as the pool of horses available to race plummeted and empty stalls abounded (1). In addition, Hollywood Park has been purchased by a large developer and is slated to close in the next few years. There is discussion as well among trainers regarding the relative risks and benefits of synthetic racing surfaces, now mandatory at larger tracks. Adding to the concern is the recent closing of Bay Meadows Racetrack in San Mateo, leaving only one major racing venue in Northern California. Empirical research, however, on the perceptions of California trainers regarding racing’s future viability is lacking. As these individuals perform the most critical aspect of the sports operation–the care of the horse, it follows that their input could help predict the future health of the industry within the state.

In “Cracks in Foundation of Kentucky Racing” (7), several prominent trainers in that state indicated they had considered relocating their stables to states where slot machines were legal and proceeds in part benefited horseracing. Some who are struggling to remain profitable with higher expenses and lower purses have moved their stables to neighboring Indiana or West Virginia where slot revenue supplements purse money. For example, at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky, purses averaged $150,500 per day in 1994, compared to $135,000 in 2008. California-based trainers have lobbied, without success, for slot revenue from Indian casino gaming. Some have shipped horses to run in races in states such as New Mexico, where slot machine revenue from tribal owned casinos is shared with horse tracks.

Slot machine revenue is hardly the only issue impacting trainer attitudes toward basing operations in a particular state, as on-track attendance and corresponding betting handle also impact purse structure. In “Down at the Track, What Policy, Marketing & Technology Offer The Sport of Kings,” Leslie Cummings (4) discovered that while overall gambling revenue increased year over year through the mid 1990’s, the betting take specific to horseracing declined during this period. Cummings (4) determined that lower attendance was directly related to this decline in wagering and cited failures in marketing management such as poor customer service and lower quality horses as significant factors. In 2009 racetrack attendance in California averaged near 7,000 persons a day (3), down significantly from years past when one might encounter 30,000 fans at Santa Anita racecourse on a weekend day. Cummings’ (4) research focused on national trends and included data from California racing venues.

Synthetic Surfaces

Another significant factor impacting horseracing in California is the imposition of synthetic tracks. In 2007, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) mandated that all major racetracks in the state replace traditional dirt tracks with synthetic surfaces (Smaller tracks, including those in the county fair circuit, are exempted). This followed a series of high-profile breakdowns, including Barbaro, the 2005 Kentucky Derby winner whose subsequent catastrophic injury in the Preakness Stakes two weeks later was also witnessed by a huge worldwide television audience. Artificial racing surfaces, more common in Europe, are considered by some industry groups to be safer, though evidence of this is still evolving. In 2009, the CHRB commissioned a comprehensive study of synthetic tracks to gauge the injury rate and related factors compared to dirt surfaces (9).

Role of the Trainer

Trainers occupy arguably the most critical niche in the racehorse industry, as they are the men and women who prepare the animal for the racing experience and whose daily care and welfare the equine athlete is entrusted to. Trainers are not only horsemen, but business owners as well; they must turn a profit to remain economically viable. Unprofitable trainers run the risk of losing what business they may be struggling to hold on to. Most owners expect a trainer to win races with their horses; trainers that can’t “do some good” with the horse run the risk of losing it to another barn (5).

Trainers face an array of different costs in order to operate their barns. These include payroll expenses to compensate assistants, grooms, hot walkers, and exercise riders as well as monthly bills from veterinarians, ferries, and feed suppliers (3). Trainers attempt to recapture these costs by charging owners “day money.” In 2005 the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) determined that the average day rate in the state was $81.33, while expenses were $86.93. As a result, it is incumbent upon trainers to make up the difference through commissions earned for winning or placing in races. In a number of states that have legalized slot machines, for example New Mexico, Indiana, West Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, a percentage of the gaming revenue is earmarked to subsidize purses at horse tracks. This is not the case in California, where the Native American entities permitted to operate casinos have forged compacts with the state that do not provide subsidies to horseracing interests.

In addition to the closing of major racing venues, California has experienced a shortage of racing stock. Whether this is a manifestation of the broader economic slowdown or the result of other factors affecting California racing is a question addressed by this research. In 2009, Hollywood Park received permission from the state to shorten its racing week from five to four days (2). For trainers who are required to maximize every opportunity for revenue, the loss of racing opportunities offers an additional challenge to the continued viability of their racing operations. The purpose of this investigation was to describe how the overall downward economic trend in horseracing is perceived by these California horsemen.



The participants of the study consisted of thoroughbred horse trainers within California. These individuals, at the time they were interviewed, had or were currently operating stables located at the racetrack. Personal interviews were utilized in all cases to gather information, which was manually recorded and later transcribed electronically. Summaries of the interview were electronically mailed to each participant for their review and additional input or modification as necessary. A total of eight interviews were conducted with a cross section of California trainers; six from the southern part of the state and two from the north. Interview locations included the Horseman’s Lounge and Grandstand Box Section at Hollywood Park, the grandstand at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, California and a horse farm in Riverside County. No access issues arose, however plans to tape record the interviews were abandoned due to the high incidence of background noise. Two of the participants were former jockeys, and two came from horseracing families. Three of the individuals interviewed averaged 30 horses in their care, three others averaged 60 or more thoroughbreds, and the remaining participants were affiliated with smaller operations. From the collected data, quotes from participants were coded and sorted in terms of identifiable and emergent themes. Each was provided an overview of the research project’s goals and agreed to sign the California Baptist University Research Consent and Participant’s Bill of Rights, including the right to withdraw from the study at any time. The signed return of these forms constituted informed consent. Questions emphasized the participant’s views and perceptions regarding the economic challenges of horseracing in the state from a lived, experiential framework. Participants were provided pseudonyms in order to preserve anonymity and elicit the most candid responses. The study was conducted through the use of semi-structured personal interviews utilizing an interview guide comprised of eight open-ended questions (Appendix A) with an opportunity for follow up probing questions. The questions were reviewed by a staff person at the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC), a professional organization with a strong commitment to further the interests of both the horses and horsemen in the state.

Role of the Researcher

The researcher and author, Dan Prince, has been licensed as a thoroughbred owner in California since 2002 and holds or has held additional licensure in New Mexico, Arizona, Florida, and Kentucky. He has been actively involved in the sport in California, having employed various trainers to stable, care for, and enter horses in races at major tracks under his name. In developing and maintaining close working relationships with trainers, he was familiar with many of the operational issues and challenges trainers faced.

Data Analysis

The study reviewed and transcribed interview notes, coding key words, expressions, and phrases to identify and sort data into common themes. Emergent patterns and themes were further catalogued to establish specific categories. Data was inductively analyzed to determine saturation points leading to theoretical constructs.


Utilizing an inductive approach to analysis, five major thematic categories informing trainer views were revealed; 1) the high costs of operating a stable in the state, 2) the lower costs and additional benefits of doing business in other states, 3) synthetic racing surfaces, 4) diversification, and 5) weather conditions in California.

High Cost of Racing in California

Previous research had determined that costs are a significant factor in trainer decisions on where to base operations (6,7). This was apparent in the interviews, where seven of the eight participants cited escalating costs for labor, feed, supplies, and insurance as a significant economic factor affecting their operation. Several trainers expressed concern in particular over the state’s high rate of Workers’ Compensation insurance, which they were required to pay for each employee. Bob, who trained at major tracks before taking a position as a farm manager, stated “Workers’ Compensation costs are the main challenge…the state classifies only race car drivers as a higher risk; the state of California forces honest guys to almost cheat in order to stay in business. Minimally skilled ranch help is paid $12 per hour; a groom at the track is making $1,000 per week to care for just four horses…these costs are placed directly on the owner.”.

Seth, who had trained in California for 30 years, said “Owners are burdened by high costs, taxes are out of control, the claiming tax is over 10 %; owners are leaving the business.” The claiming tax this participant referred to is the state’s imposition of a sales tax that must be paid by the new owner each time a horse is “claimed,” or bought out of a race. (In California, most races are classified as claiming races, and the majority of trainers operate what are commonly referred to as claiming stables.) Craig, a Northern California based trainer, noted “In the San Francisco Bay Area, the cost of living is already high, so purse structure is not comparable; everything else has gone up except purses, which have stayed the same or even in some cases gone down.” The concern with respect to lower purses was echoed by several other participants and was cited previously in this work as a significant factor in trainer decisions to relocate operations to other states (1).

Horseracing in Other States

When asked the question of what benefits are available racing in other states, three participants pointed to slot machines and the added revenue they bring to purses. Craig emphasized, “We should have partnered early on with the Indian Tribes; we fell asleep and failed to appreciate how powerful a lobby they have. Tracks like Mountaineer in West Virginia and riverboat states have slots that assist horsemen.” This sentiment is consistent with earlier research that suggested horsemen must formulate strong revenue sharing agreements with tribal entities in order to remain competitive (4).

Half of the participants pointed to the advantage of lower rates for Workers’ Compensation insurance outside of California. States such as New Mexico and Arizona are “right to work” states, with lower overall labor costs. Craig noted that in some other states “there are lower Workers’ Compensation rates, it costs less to train; the cost of living is cheaper, and a dollar goes a lot further. We pay for the good weather in California.” John offered that other states “have weaker competition and stronger purses,” though “Kentucky is having trouble.” The reference to Kentucky is telling, as this is a state that like California, had failed through legislation to legalize slot machines at racetracks, where the added revenue directly benefits the horserace industry (4, 7).

Bob, who moved his training operation out of California for several years, reflected on the experience: “You see how well horsemen are treated; treated like royalty at tracks such as Zia (New Mexico), Canterbury (Minnesota), Prairie Meadows (Iowa), and Turf Paradise (Arizona). Racing Secretaries there will accommodate you, write races for you. In California, they will only write a race for you if they owe you a favor. In this instance, the participant was speaking of the human experience beyond the economic advantages; racetrack personnel in other states were friendlier, more appreciative, and willing to extend horsemen courtesies not necessarily available in California. This same individual was the only participant who did not articulate any benefit to racing in California, stating “you can run for half of the day money (in California) for the same amount of purses in other states; there’s no Workers’ Compensation tax and the costs are lower.”

Synthetic Racing Surfaces

This question generated the most emotional response among the participants and resulted in a distinct Northern versus Southern California bias. Five of the six trainers from the south indicated their disdain for the synthetic track, citing injuries and other disappointing characteristics. Skip, who operated a successful mid-size stable based at Hollywood Park, offered, “Originally they were good, but as they have aged, they wear out and tracks do not maintain them at the same level. Before, horses’ feet were clean when leaving the track, now the material balls up in their feet. Synthetic is better in Northern California, where there is more wet weather; this is an experiment gone awry.” There was a discernable theme of synthetic track performing well in wet weather; trainers from both Northern and Southern California held this opinion. It is also significant to recognize that the climate is generally wetter in the North, where the two representative trainers held favorable views of synthetic tracks.

Another common theme that emerged with regard to synthetics was the tendency for horses to “stick” to the surface rather than “slide” during a misstep, resulting in greater injury. Ron, who had won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes with horses he has trained, suggested that synthetic surfaces “are the worst thing they ever did…horses stick on them, there’s no surface to slide. Where the foot goes in, they stay, breaking bones, tibias, and getting soft tissue injuries.”

Seth, who operated a larger Southern California stable, described the synthetic surface as “unnatural, harder on horses; the injury rate is higher, there are more hind end and soft tissue injuries.”

Craig, the Northern California trainer who generally favored synthetics, still had concerns, pointing to “lots of hind end injuries and soreness; the two year olds get shin problems because they stick instead of slide, muscles get sore, hocks, stifles are affected from the pounding because there is no give to the racetrack.” However, in defense of the surface, he went on to add:

“I am the leading trainer on synthetic surfaces in Northern California. I have run a lot of horses on synthetic; it’s incredible when it rains. It’s a very fair track for both speed horses well as closers. You don’t get the catastrophic injuries.”

John, who emphasized younger horses in his training style, framed the issue by stating his preference for “a universal synthetic track; there are too many variations between locations. Its better when it rains; the surface is harder in hot months. I wish we could go back to dirt.” The reference to variations was significant, as there are three separate tracks in Southern California, each of which having a distinct brand of artificial surface (10). The inconsistencies between the tracks add to the problem; horses are creatures of habit, and even relatively minor variations in training regimens may influence performance. Conversely, with the closing of Bay Meadows, Northern California has only one major racing venue, Golden Gate Fields; its synthetic track was better regarded. Hal, another successful Northern California trainer said in no uncertain terms “the Tapeta brand at Golden Gate is the best.”


When asked how they planned to remain financially viable in the current economic climate, several participants acknowledged their involvement in the buying and selling of horses, or “bloodstock” in industry parlance. The practice centers on purchasing horses at an early age and offering them for sale at a higher price at later stages of training and development, known as pin hooking. John said, “I’ve been lucky enough to make a profit buying and selling horses…you can’t rely on day money, it’s eaten up so fast.” Bob offered that he depended on “buying and selling; buying yearlings, pin hooking to two year old sales.”

Other participants spoke of diversification in terms of their product mix. Craig, one of the successful Northern California-based trainers said:

“You try to get better horses so you can run for better money. You have to have an equal mix of good and cheap horses in order to run in a lot of categories. You have a group of owners that want to make money; it would be nice if the economy got better; more people will buy horses.”

Hal, also from Northern California, provided a more unique blueprint for remaining profitable, emphasizing personal relations:

“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Lots of owners are getting out, but others are coming in. Good communication with clients. Being a good trainer, really, some can communicate well but can’t train. You have to do both well.”

Given the high costs associated with training thoroughbreds (3, 6), owners expect to be kept informed of their horse’s progress at the racetrack; Hal’s point was that this is often not the case, and trainers may lose clients as a result. Seth, the longtime California trainer and former jockey, stated, “I’m just holding on, creating jobs for my staff, people depend on me for jobs. I should have 10, not 25 horses, it’s not economically viable.” One may ask if Seth’s background as a jockey influenced his willingness to operate a stable simply for the benefit of his backstretch “family.” Skip, who grew up around horseracing, was more to the point when asked how he will remain in business: “Find another runner.”

There are sound economic reasons to focus on younger horses, including federal income tax breaks related to depreciation and generous “breeding awards” paid to owners who foal and race two year olds in California. Half of the trainers interviewed stated a preference for younger horses; John described his current operation as “30 horses in training, primarily younger stock. Mostly yearlings, some two year olds bought in training.” Skip commented “I have 30 head, the majority are young. I focus on buying young horses.”


All but one of the respondents indicated that California’s good weather was a major benefit to racing in the state. This is more than just cliché–horses cannot properly train on sloppy tracks, and normally neat and orderly shed rows are turned to muck when the backside is exposed to prolonged rain and other precipitation. Helmer, in his seminal 1991 study of the backstretch, pointed out that the only real holiday hot walkers, grooms, exercise riders, and trainers get is when it rains. A number of the trainers we interviewed originally came from the Midwest, where adverse weather is more likely to result in cancelled races and limited training opportunities.


It is perhaps overly-stated that a particular industry or sport is at a “crossroads.” For horseracing, this has been the case for a number of years as attendance for what was once America’s most popular spectator sport has declined dramatically over the past several decades (8). In California, considered one of thoroughbred racing’s most important venues, trainers employ thousands of employees and play a pivotal role in maintaining the economic health of the industry. This research revealed that as a group, California trainers are most worried about the continuing higher cost of doing business in the state and how by extension these costs are passed on to owners. While some participants referenced the current economic recession as adding to the challenges horseracing faces, the majority express frustration with the state legislature, which has failed to approve revenue sharing with Native American tribes operating casinos and is perceived to be adding to an ever growing tax burden. Trainers, specifically those in the southern part of the state, were generally unhappy with synthetic surfaces and pointed to the state’s mandating their use as an economic disincentive. However, the interview data suggested that trainers were willing to make adjustments (such as diversifying operations), hope for the best, and would attempt to ride out the tough times. Only one participant indicated plans to leave California, though several others pointed to obvious advantages, such as slots and lower costs as inducements to race in other states. The data additionally suggested that Northern California trainers, despite the closure of a major track, were more positive about their sustained financial viability. However, given the relative small sample, additional trainers from the north could be interviewed in order to provide better grounding for this potential hypothesis. The industry is awaiting the results of a major study regarding synthetic tracks that could validate the view of the participants that these surfaces are causing more injuries to the animals that train and race on them.

Racehorse trainers by the very nature of the business deal with disappointment and adversity on a nearly daily basis (5). Even the favorite only wins 30% of the time. In the largely isolated world of the backstretch, a deep recession may be viewed as simply another marker in an already tough race. The fact that the trainers in this study emphasized younger horses and were expanding their business models to include bloodstock development and sales suggested a certain resiliency as well as a cautious optimism regarding the sport’s future in the Golden State.

Applications in Sports

A study commissioned by the American Horse Council and performed by accountants Deloitte and Touche in 2005 revealed that the direct economic impact on California from horseracing was 1.4 billion dollars annually, with another 1 billion dollars in indirect or induced benefits. Nearly 22,000 Californians were directly employed by the industry in 2009, with another 26,000 in ancillary jobs such as truck driving and feed production. Given the pivotal role trainers play in the economics of the sport, other interested parties, including owners, racetrack operators, breeding farms, grooms, and veterinarians are potential beneficiaries of this study, as their livelihoods are tied to the sustainability of horseracing in the state. That trainers for the most part are continuing to base operations in California despite the economic challenges and obvious advantages in moving their tack to other states has significant implications for others involved in the sport. A large-scale exodus of supporting “players” would drive up labor costs while simultaneously diminishing further the pool of owners willing to pay even higher training costs. For those considering participation in California horseracing, the sport’s relatively high cost in the state is offset by opportunities such as year-round racing (weather again) and the willingness of highly- regarded trainers to “stay the course.” Additionally, the data reflected trainer concerns about the relative “safeness” of synthetic tracks; in 2010 California horseracing regulators indicated a willingness to reconsider the requirement for synthetic surfaces.


Andersen, S. (2009, April 16). Hollywood lowers daily purse levels. Daily Racing Form. Retrieved from

Andersen, S. (2009, June 5). Hollywood drops final five Wednesdays. Daily Racing Form. Retrieved from

Costs behind the “Day Rate”: A closer look at training costs and historical inflation. (2006, Winter). Owners’ Circle, 48, 8-11.

Cummings, L. (1996). Down at the track – what policy, marketing, & technology offer the Sport of Kings. Gaming Research & Review Journal, 3(1), 33-54.

Helmer, J. (1991). The horse in backstretch culture. Qualitative Sociology, 14(2), 175-195.

Hereth, R., & Talbott, J. (1993). Economic and tax implications of thoroughbred racing. Journal of Accountancy, 176(5), 51-56.

LaMarra, T. (2009, February 13). Cracks in foundation of Kentucky racing. The Blood-Horse. Retrieved from of-kentucky-racing.

Randl, J., & Cuneen, J. (1994). Demographic characteristics of racetrack patrons. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 3(1), 47-52.

Shinar, J. (2009, January 15) CHRB Launches Synthetic Track Study. The Blood Horse Retrieved from

Shulman, L. (2009, January 8). Trainers voice Santa Anita surface concerns. Retrieved from

Appendix A

California Trainer Survey

  1. Please give some background information about yourself as a trainer.
  2. Describe your current racing operation.
  3. What are the most significant economic challenges horseracing faces in this state?
  4. Please describe your experience with California’s synthetic racing surfaces.
  5. What are the benefits of racing in other states?
  6. What are the benefits of racing in California?
  7. Discuss how you plan to remain financially viable in the current horseracing climate?
  8. Talk a little about the future of horseracing in California as you see it.

Corresponding Author

Dan Prince, MS:
Note: Research was performed at California Baptist University

Educating Sports Entrepreneurs: Matching Theory to Practice


Sports entrepreneurship courses are part of sports management programs because some students hope to own their own sports-oriented business, and major sports conglomerates look to hire employees with entrepreneurial skills. Sports management instructors prepare students for these challenges. However, not all sports entrepreneurship instructors have owned their own businesses nor worked for large sports corporations. As a result, this study was conducted to determine if sports entrepreneurship instructors and sports entrepreneurs agree on the content that should be taught in sports entrepreneurship courses in order to prepare students for the real-world.

Results of the study indicate that sports entrepreneurship instructors do agree on a set of content standards for sports entrepreneurship courses, specifically, the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education National Content Standards (1). Additionally, when ranking the content skills, sports entrepreneurship instructors and sports entrepreneurs agreed on four of the five top skills students should be taught in order to be successful sports entrepreneurs.

Key Words: Sports Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurs, Sports Education, Sports Entrepreneurship Courses


Sport management programs continue to grow in number. Since the first sport management program was developed at Ohio University in 1966, programs continue to spread across the United States and the world. According to the North American Society for Sport Management, there are more than 200 sport management programs in the United States alone (6). This growth has prompted a need for innovation within sport management curricula and the development of courses that are high quality, content-rich, and flexible.

The sports industry is the third largest industry in the United States, accounting for more than $213 billion dollars a year in revenues (3). Kurtzman (4) outlined the importance of sports tourism as the impetus for the pursuit of business entrepreneurship, economic impact, and profitability. He categorized sports tourism jobs into categories of events, resorts, cruises, tours and attractions – along with listed subgroups in those categories. These subgroups, such as sports events planning and sports tour operators, are areas that are ripe for entrepreneurial endeavors.

An industry as large as the sports industry requires educated people to run a variety of sports related businesses. However, it should not be assumed that sports entrepreneurs are only owners of professional sports franchises. The sports industry entails a variety of sub-businesses, both large and small. For example, there are owners of health club facilities, sports arena and facility operators, league owner/operators, sporting goods store owners, sports ticket agencies, and sport physical therapists – just to name a few. Sport management students take sport entrepreneurship courses in order to learn the skills that are necessary to operate these types of sport-related businesses.

On the other hand, sport management instructors are entrusted with preparing their students for jobs in sport-oriented businesses. It is up to them to develop effective curriculum that prepares students for careers in an industry that is constantly changing and evolving. However, not all sport entrepreneurship instructors have owned their own businesses nor worked for large sports corporations. Research into what type of content and skills sport entrepreneurship instructors are teaching was sorely needed.

This study was conducted to compare what sport entrepreneurship instructors and practicing sport entrepreneurs believe are the important skills necessary to teach sport entrepreneurship students in order to be successful in running sport-oriented businesses. It is relevant to sports entrepreneurship educators as well as students of sports management programs – in regards to gauging what is currently being taught in sports entrepreneurship courses.


There were two research populations for this study. The research populations included: 1) NASPE/NASSM instructors of sport entrepreneurship courses in college level sport management programs that are accredited by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM). 2) Sport entrepreneurs located throughout the United States in a variety of sports oriented businesses.

Two hundred and seventeen (217) sport management instructors were identified through their faculty web pages. However, it should be noted that this was not a complete list of sport entrepreneurship instructors, because there is no way to determine how many of these sport management instructors actually taught sport entrepreneurship courses. The instructors that were contacted, were all members of sport management programs, and taught sports management related courses at the time the data was gathered. However, all sport management programs do not have sport entrepreneurship courses, nor do all sport management professors teach sport entrepreneurship. Therefore, it was impossible to get an exact count of how many sport entrepreneurship instructors exist in NASPE/NASSM accredited sport management programs. Ultimately, 43 (N = 43) sport entrepreneurship instructors participated in the study.

The second research population consisted of 250 sport-oriented businesses. The researcher randomly selected four sport-oriented businesses in each of the fifty states in the United States of America. Small sport-oriented businesses were chosen, as opposed to utilizing owners of large sports conglomerates. This is because they represented a good mix of sport-oriented businesses and they were more indicative of the types of businesses that would have been opened by recently graduating sports management students. Ultimately 67 (N = 67) sport entrepreneurs participated in the study.

The research instruments that were used to conduct this study were two questionnaires that were developed and piloted by the researcher and reviewed by a panel of experts to achieve validity and reliability.

The questionnaires were administered via email and regular mail for both research populations. The questionnaires were made available over the Internet to maximize participation. The researcher created electronic versions of the questionnaires and administered them on the Internet using


The Instructor Group was comprised of 88.4% males and 11.6% females, with 60.4% of the overall population between the ages of 36 and 55. A doctorate or master’s degree was held by 72.1% of the population. 60.4% were associate or full professors. 88.4% had 5+ years of general teaching experience. 90.7% had some type of online teaching experience. 93% had some type of blended teaching experience. 81.4% taught in 4-year colleges or universities or in graduate programs. Finally, 79.1% had sports entrepreneurship courses as an elective at their respective institutions.

An analysis of the descriptive data of the Sport Entrepreneur Group was as follows. 85.1% of the Sport Entrepreneur Group were males whereas 14.9% were female. 68.6% were between the ages of 36 and 55. 82.1% had some type of college degree. Sporting goods store owners were the largest type of business represented by this group at 37%. 25.4% of the Sport Entrepreneur respondents were relatively new businesses that had been in existence less than five years. On the opposite end, 20.9% of the group had been in business for over 25 years. The largest legal structure was a sole proprietorship at 34.3%. 38.8% of the business had over $500,000 in revenues. 17.9% only had themselves as the only employee whereas 83.6% had anywhere up to 14 employees.

To address the question of whether there is a universal set of content standards in sports entrepreneurship courses, both groups were asked if they thought that CEE’s National Content Standards (1) (Appendix A) were a complete list of all of the skills and traits necessary for sports entrepreneurship students to learn in order to become successful business owners. The results were as follows:

Table 1.1 Are CEE’s National Content Standards Complete? (Instructors)

Yes or No Frequency Percent
Yes 41 95.3
No 2 4.7

Table 1.2 Are CEE’s National Content Standards Complete? (Sports Entrepreneurs)

Yes or No Frequency Percent
Yes 65 97.0
No 2 3.0

For further analysis, a Mann-Whitney U Test was conducted to see if there were any differences between the two groups with regard to the whether they believed CEE’s National Content Standards were a complete list of the skills and traits necessary for sports entrepreneurship students to learn in order to become successful business owners. This test was administered with a .05 significance level. As the results indicated, the two tailed, significance was .650 – representing that there was no significant difference between the two groups. Table 1.3 demonstrates the results of the Mann-Whiney U Test.

Table 1.3 CEE’s National Content Standards Both Groups

Is the CEE National Content Standards List Complete?
Mann-Whitney U 1416.500
Wilcoxon W 3694.500
Z -.453
Asymp. Sig. (2-tailed) .650

Grouping Variable: Instructor or Entrepreneur

Because the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education’s 15 National Content Standards might be too ambitious to cover in just one sports management course, both groups were asked to rank the top five of the fifteen National Content Standards (1). This question is necessary because despite the course delivery mechanism (online, face-to-face), the top five content standards should be feasible to teach in any one course.

Table 1.4 Ranking of Top 5 Content Standards

Standards Group Rank #1 Rank #2 Rank #3 Rank #4 Rank #5 TOTAL %
Entrepreneurial Processes Instructors 11.6% 4.7% 2.3% 2.3% 4.7% 25.6%
Entrepreneurs 14.9% 6% 1.5% 1.5% 23.9%
Entrepreneurial Traits/Behaviors Instructors 7% 2.3% 2.3% 2.3% 14%
Entrepreneurs 3% 13.4% 4.5% 1.5% 22.4%
Business Foundations Instructors 9.3% 9.3% 11.6% 4.7% 7% 41.9%
Entrepreneurs 17.9% 7.5% 11.9% 1.5% 4.5% 43.3%
Communication/Interpersonal Skills Instructors 37.2% 14% 4.7% 7% 2.3% 65.1%
Entrepreneurs 38.8% 13.4% 14.9% 4.5% 4.5% 76.1%
Digital Skills Instructors 2.3% 2.3% 7% 4.7% 2.3% 18.6%
Entrepreneurs 1.5% 3% 7.5% 11.9%
Economics Instructors 2.3% 2.3% 4.7%
Entrepreneurs 3% 3% 1.5% 7.5%
Financial Literacy Instructors 4.7% 7% 14% 2.3% 4.7% 32.6%
Entrepreneurs 1.5% 7.5% 9% 4.5% 6% 28.4%
Professional Development Instructors 2.3% 2.3% 2.3% 4.7% 11.6%
Entrepreneurs 1.5% 4.5% 6%
Financial Management Instructors 14% 32.6% 9.3% 2.3% 58.1%
Entrepreneurs 9% 28.4% 14.9% 10.4% 3% 65.7%
Human Resource Management Instructors 7% 7% 9.3% 18.6% 41.9%
Entrepreneurs 7.5% 4.5% 10.4% 10.4% 32.8%
Information Management Instructors 2.3% 18.6% 16.3% 2.3% 39.5%
Entrepreneurs 4.5% 14.9% 1.5% 4.5% 25.4%
Marketing Management Instructors 4.7% 2.3% 9.3% 18.6% 23.3% 58.1%
Entrepreneurs 3% 7.5% 25.4% 19.4% 55.2%
Operations Management Instructors 2.3% 7% 16.3% 11.6% 37.2%
Entrepreneurs 4.5% 1.5% 23.9% 17.9% 47.8%
Risk Management Instructors 2.3% 2.3% 14% 18.6%
Entrepreneurs 1.5% 1.5% 3% 10.4% 16.4%
Strategic Management Instructors 9.3% 2.3% 2.3% 2.3% 16.3%
Entrepreneurs 1.5% 3% 3% 6% 13.4%

Table 1.4 indicates the individual content standard, along with the responses for the two research groups. Table 1.4 also indicates the percentage rankings of each content standard. The top five from both groups were: communication and interpersonal skills, financial management, marketing management, and business foundations. The two groups only differed in one of the top five areas. The instructor group listed human resources management in their top five, whereas the sports entrepreneur group listed operations management in their top five.

It is also interesting to note that the bottom three standards that both research groups felt were the least needed skills and traits were: Professional Development, Economics, and Digital Skills.

An Independent Samples T-test was conducted to compare the Instructor Group and Sport Entrepreneur Group rankings of the National Content Standards on an individual basis (Table 1.5). The Independent Samples T-test illustrated Levene’s Test of Quality Variance, a significance level, and a significance level for a two tailed test. The results indicated that there was significance in three of the fifteen National Content Standards: Digital Skills, Financial Management, and Strategic Management. This was determined by looking at the Sig. (two-tailed) column and finding the results that are below the 0.05 alpha level. SPSS provides two different statistics to choose from, depending on whether or not equal variances are assumed. One must look at the Sig. column first in order to determine if the numbers under the equal variances assumed, or equal variances not assumed row is to be used. If the Sig. level is over 0.05, then equal variances are assumed – so one would use the results in that row under the Sig. (two tailed) column.

Table 1.5 Independent T-test for Individual Rankings for Both Groups

Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
F Sig. t Df Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Diff. Std. Error Diff. 95% Confidence Interval of the Difference
Lower Upper
Entrepreneurial Processes Equal variances assumed 4.112 .053 1.417 25 .169 .74 .521 -.335 1.812
Equal variances not assumed 1.315 16.063 .207 .74 .561 -.451 1.929
Entrepreneurial Traits Equal variances assumed 2.768 .113 1.783 19 .091 .80 .449 -.139 1.739
Equal variances not assumed 1.445 6.560 .195 .80 .554 -.527 2.127
Business Foundation Equal variances assumed .014 .908 1.321 45 .193 .54 .406 -.282 1.354
Equal variances not assumed 1.305 34.784 .200 .54 .411 -.298 1.371
Communication/Interpersonal Skills Equal variances assumed .138 .712 -.558 77 .579 -.16 .285 -.727 .409
Equal variances not assumed -.563 57.181 .576 -.16 .283 -.725 .407
Digital Skills Equal variances assumed .855 .371 -2.668 14 .018 -1.38 .515 -2.480 -.270
Equal variances not assumed -2.668 11.536 .021 -1.38 .515 -2.503 -.247
Economics Equal variances assumed 2.959 .146 2.023 5 .099 2.10 1.038 -.569 4.769
Equal variances not assumed 2.689 3.921 .056 2.10 .781 -.086 4.286
Financial Literacy Equal variances assumed .167 .686 -.816 31 .421 -.35 .433 -1.237 .530
Equal variances not assumed -.816 28.129 .422 -.35 .433 -1.241 .534
Professional Development Equal variances assumed .036 .854 -.482 7 .644 -.45 .933 -2.657 1.757
Equal variances not assumed -.474 6.062 .652 -.45 .950 -2.769 1.869
Financial Management Equal variances assumed 8.228 .006 -2.248 67 .028 -.55 .243 -1.030 -.061
Equal variances not assumed -2.460 63.283 .017 -.55 .222 -.989 -.102
Human Resources Management Equal variances assumed .012 .914 .588 38 .560 .22 .369 -.530 .965
Equal variances not assumed .588 36.452 .560 .22 .369 -.531 .966
Information Management Equal variances assumed .311 .581 .804 32 .427 .24 .293 -.361 .831
Equal variances not assumed .804 29.471 .428 .24 .293 -.363 .833
Marketing Management Equal variances assumed 1.631 .207 -.474 60 .638 -.13 .283 -.700 .432
Equal variances not assumed -.455 44.500 .651 -.13 .294 -.727 .459
Operations Management Equal variances assumed .002 .967 -.575 46 .568 -.16 .272 -.703 .391
Equal variances not assumed -.573 29.788 .571 -.16 .273 -.714 .401
Risk Management Equal variances assumed .080 .780 .316 17 .756 .19 .612 -1.098 1.485
Equal variances not assumed .324 16.506 .750 .19 .596 -1.066 1.453
Strategic Management Equal variances assumed .459 .509 -3.031 14 .009 -2.00 .660 -3.415 -.585
Equal variances not assumed -2.910 10.654 .015 -2.00 .687 -3.518 -.482

As demonstrated by the Independent Samples T-test, there was significance in Digital Skills, Financial Management, and Strategic Management. The significance levels for these content standards were: 0.018, 0.017 and 0.009 respectively. When consulting Table 1.4, it revealed that a larger percentage of the Instructor Group respondents thought that Digital Skills and Strategic Management were more important than the Sports Entrepreneur Group did. Conversely, a larger percentage of the Sports Entrepreneur respondents believed that Financial Management was more important than the Instructor Group believed it to be.

In order to be able to analyze the data and come to any conclusions, one needs to take a closer look at the descriptive data of each research group. It is interesting that the percentages of the gender and ages were pretty close for both respondent groups. Another important figure to note was the high percentage of respondents who indicated that sports entrepreneurship was an elective within their programs. The hardest part of this study to get a handle on was just how many sports management programs offered sports entrepreneurship courses. This high percentage indicated that sports entrepreneurship courses are being offered, but are not required.

For the Sport Entrepreneur Group, it was interesting to see that they were highly educated with college degrees. This is indicative of many entrepreneurs despite what most people may think. Entrepreneurs are often seen as uneducated, risk takers that started businesses because they did not like school, and that was just not the case for the sports entrepreneurs in this study. The Sport Entrepreneur group had a good mix of relatively new businesses and businesses with over 25 years of experience. This makes the results even more interesting because new business owners often make mistakes, and seasoned business owners may have learned from their earlier mistakes.

The 17.9% of the respondents in the Sport Entrepreneur Group that had only one employee is significant. This was an important finding for future research because many of the National Content Standards had skills and traits listed that might not necessarily have corresponded to one employee businesses. For example, if a business only has one employee then a skill like Human Resources Management might not have been beneficial for that business owner to learn. Additionally, for the sport entrepreneurs who made higher revenues, perhaps skills like Financial Management or Economics were more important to them and their business then it was to the small, low-income business.

The results of this study indicate that instructors of sports entrepreneurship courses and sports entrepreneurs agreed on the type of content that should be addressed in a sports entrepreneurship course. The Mann-Whitney U Test performed on the two research groups indicated that there was no significant difference between the groups with regard to how they responded to whether or not CEE’s National Content Standards were all of the skills and traits necessary to be learned in order for sports entrepreneurship students to become successful sports entrepreneurs. This is important for sports entrepreneurship instructors to note when planning course content.

The ranking of the content standards was necessary to show how each group felt about the importance of teaching or learning each individual content standard. Oftentimes, the amount of time it takes to administer an entire sports entrepreneurship course varied. For example, a three credit sports entrepreneurship course at a community college may have been thirty six hours long, whereas a four-year institution may have met for forty-five hours. If both research groups agreed to the top five content standards, then the rankings could have been used by instructors to guarantee that they covered the most important content standards, regardless of the amount of hours required to administer a course.

The results from the ranking of the National Content Standards indicated that each respondent group agreed on four of the five most important content standards: Communication and Interpersonal Skills, Financial Management, Marketing Management, and Business Foundations. The respondent groups did not agree on the fifth most important skill or trait. The Sports Entrepreneurs indicated that Operations Management was the fifth most important skill or trait, whereas the Instructor Group indicated that Human Resource Management was on of the top five most important skills or traits.

Despite the lack of agreement on the fifth most important content standard the results indicated that four of CEE’s National Content Standards were very important to both of these research groups. These results should also aid sports entrepreneurship instructors in planning their course content, especially when limited to teaching only one sports entrepreneurship course and not multiple courses. Although instructors should have no problem teaching more than five topics in one particular sports entrepreneurship course, these results also indicated that all of CEE’s National Content Standards do not have to be taught in order to prepare students to become sports entrepreneurs.

The Independent Samples T-test indicated that there were significant differences between the two research groups in the content areas of: Digital Skills, Financial Management, and Strategic Management. A further analysis of these results indicated that a larger percentage of the Instructor Group thought that Digital Skills and Strategic Management were worthy enough to be included in the top five most important content standards. This was consistent with their wanting to teach more of CEE’s National Content Standards than the Sports Entrepreneurs Group felt was necessary.

The differences between the two research groups in the Financial Management content standard simply indicated that a larger percentage of the Sports Entrepreneurs believed that Financial Management was more important than the Instructor Group believed it to be. It should be noted that 58.1% of the Instructor Group did have Financial Management as a top five most important content standard and that was good enough for that group to be the second most important content standard.

Applications in Sport

This study is relevant to all sports management educators that teach sports entrepreneurship courses. If you are a sports entrepreneurship instructor, then it is up to you to review this study in order to better understand what sports entrepreneurs do on a daily basis. Not every sports entrepreneurship instructor has had the opportunity to be a sports entrepreneur, so one might not be exactly sure of the content that should be taught future sports entrepreneurs. However, this study shows the relevant content sports entrepreneurship instructors should be teaching their students on a daily basis. This study focused on the practice of sports entrepreneurs and identified what skills and traits are needed in the field. All sports entrepreneurship instructors should look at this study and utilize the results for the benefit of their students.


The author would like to acknowledge all of the participants, both sports management professors and sports entrepreneurs, for taking the time out of their busy schedules to participate in this study.


Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, National Content Standards for Entrepreneurship Education. Retrieved October 30, 2009, from

Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, (2001). Entrepreneurship everywhere: A guide to resources and models for entrepreneurship education. Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, Columbus, OH.

Howard, D., & Crompton, J. (2004). Financing sport, Fitness Information Technology, Morgantown, WV.

Kurtzman, J. (2005). Sports tourism categories, Journal of Sport Tourism, Vol. 10, No.1, p. 15-20.

Sport Management Program Review Council, (2000) Sport management program standards and review protocol, Reston, VA: National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

The North American Society for Sports Management website. All data retrieved on November 20, 2009 from:

Corresponding Author

Dr. Anthony Borgese:

Training to Improve Bone Density in Adults: A Review and Recommendations


The loss of bone density is becoming a major health concern in industrialized societies. Increasing bone density during puberty and young adulthood is considered the best option for preventing the negative health consequences associated with osteoporosis, even in middle aged and older adults an exercise program can increase bone density. While low volume impact oriented aerobic activities like running have been shown to be effective at increasing bone density excessive endurance training has been linked to low bone density. Strength training remains the best option for adults wishing to increase bone density. A regular program of high load (60-85% 1RM) training three or more times per week using a variety of exercises that challenge all major muscles has been shown to significantly increase bone density even in elderly adults.

Key Words: Bone Density, Exercise, Osteoporosis, Training


Osteoporosis, which has been defined as bone mineral density (BMD) more than 2.5 standard deviations below the young adult mean value (14), is a growing health problem for both men and women. In developed and developing countries, the incidence of osteoporosis is increasing at a rate faster than what would be predicted by the aging of the population alone (15). In the U.S., it has been estimated that by 2025 the number of hip fractures attributed to osteoporosis will double to nearly 2.6 million with a greater percentage increase in men than in women (12).

Epidemiological evidence suggests that genetic factors are the most important cause of osteoporosis (20) and can account for as much as 80% of the variability in bone density in the population (6), but a variety of environmental factors have been linked to bone density including: negative energy balance, low calcium intake, lack of fruit and vegetable consumption, low body mass index, strength, and hormone levels (13,22,9,7,23) – all of which may influence the ability to develop or maintain bone density.

A well designed exercise can have a tremendous impact on bone, increasing density, size, and mechanical strength (23) and may be one of the keys to preventing complications associated with osteoporosis. If bone density and maximum tensile strength are increased before osteoporosis sets in, subsequent complications could be minimized (21). Unfortunately many adults wait to start an exercise program once they are diagnosed with low bone density.

For middle aged and older adults one of the primary health goals of an exercise program is to maintain bone density. Without an exercise intervention, after the age of 40, bone mass decreases by about 0.5% per year, regardless of sex or ethnicity (15). Whether appreciable increases in bone density can occur for this age group is equivocal (15) and dependant on the duration of the exercise program, age, dietary factors, and history of physical activity. A variety of different types of exercise have been used in bone building programs middle aged or older adults.

Training Techniques

Strength training

Although not all studies have shown improvement in bone density with strength training (15), strength training, if done with a high enough intensity for a prolonged period of time, seems to be effective for improving bone density in middle aged and older women who have low bone density (16). Programs that have been successful at increasing bone density have several common characteristics; training intensity above 70% 1RM, programs that last more than 12 months, and training frequency greater than two times per week.

Endurance Training

Endurance training can be an acceptable form of exercise for maintaining or increasing bone density in middle aged or older adults provided there is sufficient impact. Stuart and Hannan (2000) examined the effects of cycling, running, or both on bone density in recreational male athletes. They found that runners had greater total and leg BMD than controls and that those athletes participating in both cycling and running had greater total and arm BMD – whereas the cyclists had decreased spine BMD compared to controls. The lack of impact involved in cycling may explain the lack of change in BMD even though all groups performed equal volumes of work throughout the study period. Walking programs, because of their low impact, tend to show only modest or no effects on BMD (3,18). Rowing, because of the high compressive and shear forces placed on the spine (4.6 times body weight) has been shown to increase lumbar spine BMD but not at other areas (17). Moderate training volumes seem to be more effective for increasing bone density. Running mileage of 20-30 km per week has a positive effect on bone, particularly lower leg and distal femur, but training volumes greater than this may cause a chronic increase in cortisol that negatively impacts bone (4) as running 92 km per week has been shown to result in bone density lower than sedentary controls (2).

Jump training

Although effective and popular in school based programs for increasing bone density in younger people jump training does not appear to be as effective in middle aged and older women. In a study comparing the effects of 12 months of vertical jumping on spine and proximal femur BMD in a group of pre and post menopausal women, Bassey, Rothwell, Littlewood and Pye (1998) found that 50 jumps six days per week increased BMD in the pre-menopausal group but not in the post menopausal group compared to group specific controls. Interestingly, the lack of change occurred even though the ground reaction forces and rate of force development on landing were higher in the post menopausal group resulting in a greater strain overload than in the pre menopausal group.

While a variety of exercise modalities have proven to be effective at maintaining bone density in adults, there are some basic principles that should be considered when designing a long-term program for people with osteoporosis:

Exercise Considerations

Use a Progressive Program

Increase resistance and intensity progressively. This is necessary because for bone to form it requires a minimum amount of strain. Once a bone adapts to a given strain level, the stimulus for bone to form is removed and a higher strain level becomes necessary for it to adapt further (10).

Use Dynamic Movements

Mechanical loading of bone has an osteogenic effect only if the loading is dynamic and variable, as static loading of bone does not trigger an adaptive response (23). Impact and rapid changes of direction can be particularly effective because ground reaction forces tend to be highest during these activities. Jumps, running, and more explosive or dynamic strength training activities should make up the majority of exercise in a bone-building program. In adults with advanced osteoporosis, more explosive exercises should be phased in gradually as their conditioning and bone strength improves.

Vary the Exercises

Bone adaptations occur primarily at insertion and origin points where muscles attach to the bones. Ryan et al. (1994) suggest that increased BMD from strength training and explosive activities is related to the load placed on the muscles that act as prime movers. A wide variety of exercises, which change every 2-4 weeks, exercising the whole body will help ensure that all bones receive stimulus to increase BMC or BMD.

Minimum Intensity

As with most training, there is a minimum level of intensity that is needed to stimulate increase in BMD. For strength training activities there is a linear relationship between weight lifted and improvements in bone density (5). Chilibeck, Sale and Webber (1995) suggest that for strength training intensities of at least 60%, 1RM are needed to increase BMD, with faster and greater increases in bone density coming as intensity climbs (16). For impact activities like running and jumping, ground reaction forces of greater than two times body weight can increase bone density with higher forces having a greater effect.

Training Frequency

Improvements in BMD can occur with relatively short training sessions if high impact activities like jumping are the core of the program. However, there is a need to perform these sessions frequently. Studies of jump training have found that where three or more sessions per week are sufficient to increase bone – two sessions per week has negligible effect on bone density (11).

Program Duration

Consistency is one of the keys to long term bone health. Like other tissues, bone undergoes both adaptation to training and detraining during periods of decreased activity. The bone remodelling cycle lasts four to six months (8); this is the minimum period of time needed for BMD to change significantly. Training programs need to be designed so that they offer the variety and adaptability for people to make them a year round part of lifelong fitness regime.


Decreased bone density is a growing problem in modern societies. Exercise remains one of the most potent alternatives to drug treatments for maintaining or improving bone density. An intensive program, three or more times per week featuring a variety of exercises that considers the individual needs of each person and promotes long term compliance can have a positive impact on bone density.

Applications in Sport

Over the past years, adults have become more and more active in age group sports, particularly in the endurance sports like running, cycling, and triathlon. The inclusion of an intensive strength training program will not only improve their performance, but will help offset the decrease in bone density that often accompanies aging and higher volumes of aerobic training.


Bassey, E. J., Rothwell, M.C., Littlewood, J.J., & Pye, D.W. (1998). Pre- and postmenopausal women have different BMD responses to the same high-impact exercise. J. Bone Miner. Res., 13, 1805– 1813.

Bilanin, J., Blanchard, M., & Russek-Cohen, E. (1989). Lower vertebral bone density in male long distance runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc., 21, 66-70.

Cavanaugh, D. J., & Cann, C.E. (1988) Brisk walking does not stop bone loss in postmenopausal women. Bone, 9, 201–204.

Chilibeck, P., Sale, D., & Webber, C. (1995). Exercise and bone mineral density. Sports Medicine, 19, 103-122.

Cussler, E. C., Lohman, T.G. Going, S.B., Houtkooper, L. B., Metcalfe, L.L., Flint-Wagner, H.G., Harris, R.B., & Teixeira, P.J. (2003). Weight lifted in strength training predicts bone change in postmenopausal women. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 35, 10 –17.

Dequeker, J., Nijs, J., Verstraeten, A., Geusens, P., & Gevers, G. (1987). Genetic determinants of BMC at the spine and radius: a twin study. Bone, 8, 207–209.

Duncan, C. S., Blimkie, C., Cowell, C.T., Burke, S., Briody, J.N., & Howman-Giles, R. (2002). Bone mineral density (BMD) in adolescent female athletes: relationship to exercise type and muscle strength. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 34(2), 286–294, 2002.

Epstein, S. (1988). Serum and urinary markers of bone remodelling: assessment of bone turnover. Endocrine Review, 9, 437-449.

Fisher, J.O., Mitchell, D.C., Smiciklas-Wright, H., Mannino, M.L.& Birch, L.L. (2004). Meeting calcium recommendations during middle childhood reflects mother-daughter beverage choices and predicts bone mineral status Am. J. Clin. Nutr.,79, 698 –706.

Frost, H. (1987). Bone mass and the mechanostat: a proposal. Anat. Rec., 219, 1-9.

Fuchs, R., Bauer, J., & Snow, C.(2001) Jumping improves hip and lumbar spine bone mass in prepubescent children: A randomized controlled trial. J. Bone Miner. Res., 16,148–156.

Gullberg, B., Johnell, O., & Kanis, J.A. (1997). World wide projections for hip fracture. Osteoporosis. Int. 7, 407-413.

Helge, E. W., & kanstrup, I.L., (2002).. Bone density in female elite gymnasts: impact of muscle strength and sex hormones. Med. Sci.Sports Exerc., 34(1), 174–180.

Kanis, J. A., Melton, III, L.J., Christiansen, C., Johnsotn, C., & Khaltaev, N.(1994). The diagnosis of osteoporosis. J. Bone Miner. Res., 9,1137–1141.

Kohrt, W., Bloomfield, S., Little, K., Nelson, M., & Yingling, V. (2004). ACSM Position Stand: Physical Activity and Bone Health. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 1985-1996

Laynes, J., & Nelson, M.(2001) Resistance training for the prevention of osteoporosis. In Resistance Training for Health and Rehabilitation. Graves, J., and Franklin, B., eds. Human Kinetics, Champaign, Ill. pp 385-404.

Morris, F., Smith, R., Payne, W., Galloway, A., & Wark, J. (2000). Compressive and shear force generated in the lumbar spine of female rowers. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 21, 518-523.

Nelson, M. E., Fisher, E.C., Dilmanian, F.A., Dallal, G.E. & Evans, W.J. (1991). A 1-y walking program and increased dietary calcium in postmenopausal women: effects on bone. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 53, 1304 –1311.

Ryan, A., Treuth, M., Rubin, M., Miller, J., Nicklas, B., Landis, D., Pratley, R., Libanati, C., Gundberg, C., and Hurley, B. (1994). Effects of strength training on bone mineral density: hormonal and bone turnover relationships. Journal of Applied Physiology. 77: 1678-1684.

Sigurdsson, G. Halldorsson, B.V. Styrkarsdottir, U., Kristjansson, K., & Stefansson, K (2008) Impact of Genetics on Low Bone Mass in Adults. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 23,1584-1590

Stone, M. (1992). Connective tissue and bone responses to strength training. In Strength and Power in Sport. P.V. Komi Editor. Blackwell Scientific Publications. Cambridge, Mass.

Stewart, A. D., and Hannan, J. (2000). Total and regional bone density in male runners, cyclists, and controls. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 32(8), 1373–1377.

Turner, C.H., & Robling, A.G. (2003) Designing exercise regimens to increase bone strength. Exerc. Sport Sci. Rev., 31(1), 45–50.

Tylavsky, F.A., Holliday, K., Danish, R., Womack, C., Norwood, J.,& Carbone, L. (2004). Fruit and vegetable intakes are an independent predictor of bone size in early pubertal children. Am J Clin Nutr., 79, 311–7.

Zanker, C.L., & Cooke, C.B. (2004). Energy Balance, Bone Turnover, and Skeletal Health in Physically Active Individuals. Med. Sci.Sports Exerc., 36(8), 1372–1381.

Author Profile

Ed McNeely

Ed McNeely is the senior physiologist at the Peak Centre for Human Performance and a partner in StrengthPro Inc. a Las Vegas based sport and fitness consulting company he is also a National Faculty member of the United States Sports Academy

Corresponding Author

Ed McNeely, MS:

An Analysis of Hammer Throw Facility Safety Factors in NCAA Division I


The purpose of this study was to determine the level of compliance with National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) track and field hammer facility recommendations at division I universities in the United States. A 35-item survey instrument was distributed to 279 applicable schools with a 28% response rate. A total of 78.1% participants in the study reported compliance with the NCAA minimum recommendations, and 38% also met the IAAF standards. An ANOVA of the coaches’ overall perception of hammer facility safety demonstrated significant differences for facility factors including the gate height, gate positioning, cage manufacturer, landing area security, and response time to maintenance issues. The NCAA may need to examine their present hammer facility guidelines and consider alignment with the new standards of the IAAF.

Key Words: Olympic, International, Track and Field, Equipment, Cage


The hammer throw, one of the Olympic and internationally recognized field events in track and field, was developed into a competitive event centuries ago in Ireland, Scotland, and England (3). The hammer throw has changed considerably since its origin. This includes equipment changes (such as more precisely-manufactured hammers and smooth-soled shoes that permitted faster spinning), training methods, and throwing distances (now in excess of 280 feet for the best men and 250 feet for the best women in the world). One aspect of the throwing event that has not changed, however, is the inherent danger associated with this event. Athletes, coaches, and spectators participating in the event are at risk; steel hammers that weigh 4 kilos for women and 16 pounds for men are hurled through the air at great speeds, far distances, and sometimes difficult to spot in flight (2).

Due primarily to safety concerns, the throwing circle is protected by a C-shaped cage for the safety of officials, athletes, coaches, and spectators. At the inception of the hammer, there was no safety cage used. The hammer cage was originally designed to prevent the hammer from exiting the thrower’s hands in unprotected directions, such as out of the back, sides, and in dangerous angles from the circle. Prior to 2004, the last significant change to hammer cage design that increased the gate height was in 1994-1995 (6). Even with the safety precautions of the cage and the reduced throwing sector, the hammer throw has met considerable resistance from state high school associations and collegiate athletic administrators in the United States (2).

In August 2003, the international governing body of track and field, the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), approved rule changes affecting hammer throwing safety cages. After the 2001 IAAF Congress’ decision to reduce the landing sector angle to 34.92 degrees and after several deaths in throwing accidents, there was greater urgency to examine and improve hammer cages (6). The problem with earlier hammer cage specifications and design is that implements could still land on the track front and back straight away even when the cage gates were operated correctly. In the new design, modifications were made to augment safety by increasing the length and height of the gates as well as decreasing the opening between the front posts. Studies of the trajectory of the hammer necessitated that the minimum height of the additional two side panels and the gates be increased to 10m (4). The new IAAF rule standards came into force January 1, 2004 (8).

The new IAAF hammer cage design has worked well in terms of reducing the risk of hammers landing on the track as displayed in Figure 1 (6). However, the new IAAF specifications have not been adopted by the NCAA rules committee. Figures 2 and 3 demonstrate the variance in non-IAAF compliant cages of American hammer facilities. Are the colleges and university’s across the United States putting themselves at risk for a catastrophic accident and ensuing litigation by not adopting the IAAF hammer cage? The following study examined current NCAA hammer facilities in relation to safety considerations.

Figure 1
Figure 1
IAAF Compliant Hammer Cage with 10m Gates at a European Venue

Figure 2
Figure 2
NCAA Compliant Hammer Cage with 8m Gates at an American NCAA Venue

Figure 3
Figure 3
Non-compliant Hammer Cage with 3.5m Gates at an American NCAA Venue

Research Questions

The following research questions guided this study of hammer throwing facilities at NCAA Division I institutions in the United States:

  1. What are the basic characteristics of NCAA Division I hammer facilities?
  2. To what degree do NCAA college hammer facilities meet NCAA and IAAF standards?
  3. How do the basic hammer facility characteristics relate to facility safety?


A 35-item survey instrument was developed to collect data regarding the hammer facilities at NCAA Division I colleges and Universities throughout the United States. This survey was developed by the researchers and reviewed by experts in the area of facility design and management and was approved for use via the Institutional Review Board. This survey was formatted for online completion using the InQsit system. An email explaining the study was sent to all head track and field coaches in the United States with a hyperlink to the online survey. The head coaches were instructed to complete the survey themselves or to forward it to their throws coach if the school had one. SPSS version 15.0 was used for all descriptive and ANOVA statistical analyses with an alpha level of .05 established for significance for all tests.


Of the 269 NCAA Division I Universities that competed in track and field, a total of 75 valid responses were obtained representing 28%. Those coaches completing the survey were experienced with the hammer throw with a mean value of coaching experience of 10.24 years (+/- 7.46 SD) with a range of first year coaching up to 39 years of experience. Additionally, 56.2% of these coaches had prior experience competing in the hammer, and all were coaching in track and field programs that fully included the hammer event. The basic characteristics of the hammer facilities at these universities are included in Table 1.

Table 1

Facility/Cage Characteristic % agreement
Dedicated Hammer-Only Facility 50.0%
Hammer Facility Located Inside the Track Oval 26.4%
Hammer Facility Located on the Campus Grounds 85.1%
Hammer Cage Including Gates 87.5%

In addition to the basic facility characteristics, both the knowledge of and compliance with NCAA and IAAF standards were assessed. A total of 78.1% of facilities were reported to be in compliance with NCAA standards for the hammer with 17.8% not in compliance and 4.1% unsure of their level of facility compliance. The NCAA has established hammer throw facility specifications, but only 51.4% of the coaches surveyed were aware that the NCAA does not require compliance with their specifications. However, 82.4% of the coaches expressed that the NCAA should require all member institutions to comply with the established specification found in Rule 1, Section 9 of the NCAA Track and Field rulebook (8). For the IAAF standards, 38.0% of the facilities were compliant with the standards put into effect in 2004. There were 69.9% of coaches aware of the IAAF standards with 30.1% not aware of the international governing body facility standards. As a whole, 53.4% of the coaches surveyed favored an NCAA adoption of the IAAF facility standards for the hammer.

In regards to safety for the hammer facility, a number of questions provided insight to the cost, construction, age, maintenance, and accident history for the hammer facilities. Reported hammer cage costs in US dollars included: 9.9% under $10,000; 35.2% in the $10,000-20,000 range; 16.9% in the $20,000-30,000 range; 9.9% in the above $30,000 range; with 28.2% unaware of cage costs. The reported age of the hammer cages were highest at the newer end with 27.5% 1-3 years old, 18.8% 4-5 years old, 20.3% 6-8 years old, 5.8% 9-10 years old, 24.6% 11-15 years old, with 2.9% unsure of the cage age. Information on the manufacture and installation of the hammer cages is summarized in Table 2. The maintenance staff was reported to regularly respond to requests for repairs to the net or cage for 74.6% of the facilities, with the speed of maintenance staff response to repair requests ranging from, 14.3% immediate, 8.6% within a day, 18.6% in 2-3 days, 30.0% in 4-7 days, and 28.6% in more than a week.

The accident history for the hammer was reported in two areas: practice accidents and competition accidents. For practice situations, 9.9% of coaches reported accidents with the thrower themselves involved in 28.6% of the accidents, other throwers in the area involved in 42.9% of the accidents, the coach involved in 14.3% of the accidents, and unaware bystanders involved in 14.3% of the practice accidents. Competition accidents were reported in 5.5% of the facilities with half of the incidents involving the thrower themselves and half involving coaches.

Table 2

University Personnel Local Company Commercial Manufacturer /
Professional Track Contractor
Cage Manufacturer 12.7% 11.3% 76.1%
Cage Installation 44.3% 17.1% 38.6%

A final analysis of the coaches’ overall perception of hammer facility safety was conducted using a 5-point Likert scaled question ranging from very unsafe to very safe with 1 being very unsafe. The mean value for the whole study was 3.82 (+/- 1.18 SD), with additional analysis conducted for multiple factors to determine if they have a significant impact on overall perception of facility safety as determined by one-way ANOVA. There were 10 factors that significantly impacted overall cage safety including: whether the cage had gates, F (1,70) = 16.35, p < 0.001; gate positioning during practice F (1,68) = 17.11, p < .001; cage maintenance F (1,69) =17.75, p < 0.001; landing area security in practice, F (1,70) = 4.47, p = 0.038; landing area security in competition, F (1,68) = 13.17, p = 0.001; gate height, F (4,65) = 14.69, p < 0.001; cage maker, F (2, 68) = 3.79, p = 0.028; maintenance repair speed, F (4,65) = 3.48, p = 0.012. A summary of these mean safety ratings according to the seven 2-item factors are summarized in Table 3. Three items, (gate height, cage maker, and speed of maintenance response) required further evaluation via Tukey post hoc analyses. For the five gate heights, the safety ratings increased as the gate height increased with the lowest height being significantly less safe than all other heights as summarized in Table 4. Post hoc testing of the cage maker factor revealed that commercially manufactured cages had significantly greater impacts on overall safety than cages fabricated on-site by university personnel (Table 5). The speed of maintenance response factor post hoc testing demonstrated that hammer facilities that had maintenance repair requests acted upon within one day had mean safety ratings significantly higher than facilities where maintenance requests took more than a week for action to be taken. Table 6 displays the general trends for maintenance response speed in relation to overall facility safety.

Table 3
Hammer Facility Mean Safety Ratings for 2-Item Factors

Category Yes Response
Mean Value
(+/- SD)
No Response
Mean Value
(+/- SD)
Hammer Only Throwing Facility 4.05 (+/- 0.94) 3.58 (+/- 1.36)
Cage Inside the Track Oval 4.00(+/- 1.11) 3.81 (+/- 1.16)
Cage On-Campus 3.83 (+/- 1.17) 3.80 (+/- 1.32)
Cage Gates Present * 4.05 (+/- 0.91) 2.56 (+/- 1.74)
Gates Properly Positioned in Practice * 4.17 (+/- 0.88) 3.06 (+/- 1.26)
Cage Maintained Properly * 4.19 (+/- 0.94) 3.06 (+/- 1.11)
Landing Area Security in Practice * 4.23 (+/- 0.95) 3.65 (+/- 1.20)
Landing Area Security in Competition * 4.17 (+/- 0.90) 3.17 (+/- 1.29)
Practice Accident in the Past 3.43 (+/- 0.79) 3.95 (+/- 1.12)
Competition Accident in the Past 3.25 (+/- 1.26) 3.90 (+/- 1.13)
Cage Meets NCAA Specs * 4.18 (+/- 0.87) 2.31 (+/- 1.32)
Cage Meets IAAF Specs * 4.41 (+/- 0.80) 3.50 (+/- 1.19)

Table 4
Mean Safety Ratings According to Hammer Cage Gate Height – subsets represent significantly distinct groups of means

Gate Height N subset 1
for alpha=.05
mean values
subset 2
for alpha=.05
mean values
subset 3
for alpha=.05
mean values
Less than 10′-0″ 3 1.00
10′-1″ to 15-0″ 4 2.75
10′-1″ to 15-0″ 12 3.58 3.58
20′-1″ to 25′-0″ 32 4.06
20′-1″ to 25′-0″ 19 4.52

Table 5
Mean Safety Ratings According to Cage Maker – subsets represent significantly distinct groups of means

Cage Maker N subset 1
for alpha=.05
mean values
subset 2
for alpha=.05
mean values
University Personnel 9 3.00
Local Company
(i.e. local fencing contractor)
54 4.02 4.02
Commercially Manufactured
(i.e. Gill, AAE, etc)
8 4.12

Table 6
Mean Safety Ratings According to Speed of Maintenance Response – subsets represent significantly distinct groups of means

Maintenance Response Time N subset 1
for alpha=.05
mean values
subset 2
for alpha=.05
mean values
More than 7 days 20 3.50
4-7 days 21 3.81 3.81
2-3 days 13 3.92 3.92
1 day 4.83
Immediate 6 4.60 4.60


The seemingly slow progress in meeting safety challenges for the hammer throw internationally has now been overcome by the new IAAF rules. However, in the United States there continues to remain some reluctance by NCAA Division I colleges and universities to adopt the new IAAF standards for safety. A total of 78.1% participants in the study reported that they were in compliance with the NCAA minimum recommendations, but only half of the facilities meeting NCAA standards also met the IAAF standards (38.0 % of the total sample). Alarmingly, the remaining 21.4% of the participants reported their facility did not even meet NCAA recommended standards or that they were unsure if the facility met NCAA standards. The coaches were very supportive of mandatory facility requirements of member institution hammer facilities with 82.4% of respondents desiring mandated minimal requirements. The NCAA recommendations still remain far below the IAAF standards for safety (5,8). In the NCAA rule book it states that the purpose of the hammer cage is to contain, but not interfere with, the flight path of the implement (8). The recommended minimum height for the NCAA hammer cage is 6.15 meters, and the rule book states that the height should be increased to 8 m whenever possible. The gates are stated to be panels of suitable material between 2.74 and 2.90 m in width with a fixed cage opening of between 8 and 9 m. It is also stated in the rule book that, “Cage configurations that are more restrictive than the minimums set forth in this rule may only be used with the consent of each participating institution” (8). These standards are far below the IAAF standards of a smaller 7 meter opening and gates that are 10 meters in height and 3.2 meters in length (6).

American universities have found themselves involved in litigation because of accidents involving the hammer throw (2). Rucker v. Regents of the University of California is an example of a case in which the University of California was forced to pay a settlement for 2.25 million dollars because of an accident involving the hammer throw (7). An errant throw by a hammer thrower resulted in a triple jumper on the team being struck in the head and sustaining permanent brain damage during a practice for the team. The University has since changed its policy so that other track members are not practicing anywhere in the vicinity of hammer throwers while they are on the field (7). However, a cage meeting the IAAF standards might prevent this type of injury.

Professionals often consider the practices of their peers to determine the appropriate safe and proper standard of care (1). It was interesting to note that 53.4% of the coaches surveyed supported the adoption of the IAAF facility standards for the hammer. This standard of care is almost universally based upon a commonly accepted standard rather than local or state practice. The IAAF has established guidelines for the construction of hammer cages that reduce the risk of accidents by decreasing the danger zone. Almost one third (30.1%) of the participants in the study were not aware of the IAAF facility standards. The standard of care, as well as the “legal” standard used to judge provider practices in the event of an accident, claim and suit, is often based upon the standard of care owed to clients by various professionals. In the event of litigation, particular practices are generally examined by expert witnesses, who, based upon the professional standard of care, may support or criticize the services in question (1). According to Laurel, Wilson, and Young (2004), the mathematical calculation method of the release velocity gives an 83° danger zone for the pre-2004 cage design. The pre-2004 IAAF cage design is the same as the current NCAA Division I recommendations. The danger zone for the new IAAF cage is approximately 53°, thus reducing the danger zone by 30°. The new design considerably reduces the danger of a hammer thrown by a right handed thrower from a cage located near the 1500 meter start from landing on the main straightaway (6). The NCAA Division I colleges and universities may be putting themselves at risk by not exercising a standard of care for facility construction that is consistent with IAAF guidelines.

There have been several fatal accidents and close calls over the years in the United States involving the hammer throw (2). In the 1980s, during the Bakersfield – Cal State Los Angeles dual meet, a sportswriter was killed by hammer at Cal State Los Angeles. In 2005, a thrower at the University of Southern California, was seriously injured when the hammer bounced off the cage and struck him in the face (N. Bryant, personal communication, May 21, 2009). Participants in the present study reported accidents in practice (9.9%) and in competitions (5.5%). These reported accidents may have included incidents requiring medical attention but were not fatal. A facility that meets the current IAAF standards may have prevented the fatalities of the past and the accidents reported in the present study.

Proper maintenance of the hammer cage and facility equipment means longevity and safety. The maintenance staff in the present study was reported to regularly respond to repairs to the net or cage for 74.6% of the facilities. The type of maintenance necessary for facility upkeep demands an understanding of the types of materials and the equipment being dealt with. Cage maintenance is often a chore balanced between maintenance, grounds and the coaching staff. The protective netting or in many cases chain link fence surrounding the hammer ring must be kept in good repair. The speed of response to repair requests on the hammer facility ranged from: 14.3% immediate, 8.6% within a day, 18.6% in 2-3 days, 30% in 4-7 days, and 28.6% in more than a week. If the hammer facility continues to be utilized when maintenance is required, it increases the possibility of an accident. Over half of the participants in the study (58.6%) reported that it took at least 4 days for a repair request to be completed. Coaches indicated that their facility was the safest when maintenance requests were handled in a day or less. Devising a maintenance schedule for the facility can ensure appropriate, essential, and regular upkeep. Utilizing a hammer facility for practice or competition that is not properly maintained is an unnecessary risk.

The analysis of the coaches’ overall perception of hammer facility safety demonstrated factors like the height of the gates, the manufacturer of the cage, and response time to maintenance issues significantly impacted safety ratings. The trend for safety ratings, as noted in Table 4, increases as gate height increases, which is consistent with the IAAF recommendations of increasing gate height to 10 meters. The factor of cage manufacturer revealed that commercially manufactured cages had significantly greater impacts on the overall perception of safety than cages fabricated on-site by university personnel. Most commercial manufacturers will abide by industry standards for safety. The speed of maintenance response established that hammer facilities that had maintenance repair requests acted upon within one day had mean safety ratings significantly higher than facilities where maintenance requests took more than a week for action to be taken. This demonstrates that in addition to proper initial construction, cage maintenance significantly contributes to overall hammer facility safety.


Because of its limited popularity and miniscule textual coverage, the hammer throw remains the most ignored and misunderstand event in track and field in the United States. The mystery surrounding the event in the United States may contribute to the reluctance of the NCAA to adopt the IAAF cage specifications. The new IAAF hammer cage design has helped reduce the risk of hammers landing on the track. However, the new specifications have not been adopted by the NCAA. Colleges and Universities across the United States may have to examine their present designs to determine the best way of improving the safety of the cage to match the new design adopted by the IAAF. The NCAA Division I colleges and universities may be putting themselves at risk by not exercising a standard of care for facility construction that is consistent with IAAF guidelines. The NCAA may have to examine their present facility requirements to determine the best way of improving the safety of the cage to match the new design adopted by the IAAF.

Applications in Sport

This investigation has several important implications for colleges and universities as well as individuals supervising track and field programs. First, the standard of care for hammer facilities has been elevated by the IAAF. Although not established as a universal standard by NCAA colleges and universities in the United States, the IAAF hammer cage may be considered a reasonably prudent guide for determining venue safety as noted in this investigation. It would be prudent for organizational leaders to plan and provide for at least the IAAF approved cage during the approval of any future track and field facility updates.

The NCAA Division I Colleges and Universities may be putting themselves at risk for negligence and potential litigation by not exercising a standard of care for facility construction that is consistent with IAAF guidelines. Four key elements must be present in order to legally establish negligence: 1) duty, 2) the act or breach of duty, 3) proximate cause, and 4) damages (9). These elements are often viewed as a progressive chain in which each successive “link” must be present.

Although this paper has focused specifically on the hammer throw, the basic facility design concepts and practices noted have application to numerous other sport venues where protection from flying projectiles is required. Other sport events and venues can benefit from an examination of safety standards from other venues, other regions, or even internationally. For example, the protection of spectators from foul balls in baseball or the protection of auto racing fans from flying debris of wreckage could both benefit from an examination of the protective equipment and measures in place at various venues and leagues regionally, nationally, and even globally. These types of comparisons and research can not only improve safety for all, but can lead toward the establishment of accepted industry standards.


Cotton, D., Wolohan, J. (2007). Law for recreation and sport managers (4th ed.), pp. 460-466. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.

Connolly, H., (2006). History of the hammer throw. Retrieved from

Dunn, G. & McGill, K. (1991). The throws manual. Palo Alto, CA: Track and Field News Press.

Gutiérrez, M., Soto, V.M., & Rojas, F.J. (2002). A biomechanical analysis of the individual techniques of the hammer throw finalists in the Seville Athletics World Championship 1999. IAAF New Studies in Athletics, 2,15-26.

IAAF. (2008). International Athletics Federation Rulebook. Retrieved from

Laurel, B., Wilson, D., & Young, R. (2004). Hammer throw safety cages. IAAF New Studies in Athletics, 19(1), 47 -51.

Lewellyn, T.G. (2008). Alameda County Injury Attorney: Our Successes. Retrieved from

NCAA. (2008). NCAA division I track and field rulebook. Retrieved from…/media_and_events/ncaa_publications/playing_rules/fall/cross_country_track_field/index.html

Van der Smissen, B. (2007). “Elements of negligence”, In D. Cotton & J. Wolohan (Eds.). Law for recreation and sport managers (4th ed., pp. 36-45). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Author Profiles

Lawrence Judge

Lawrence Judge is an associate professor and coordinator of the graduate coaching program at Ball State University. Dr. Judge has a long-established background in coaching elite level track and field athletes in the hammer throw and an extensive research background in coaching behavior, moral issues, and competitiveness versus participation in athletics, specifically in youth sports.

Jeffrey Petersen

Dr. Petersen is an assistant professor and coordinator of the graduate sport management program at Baylor University. Dr. Petersen’s research interests include sport management pedagogy the design and management of sport facilities. He is a regular presenter at conferences and annual meetings organized by the AAHPERD.

Corresponding Author

Lawrence Judge: