“So, Who’s Our New Coach?”: NCAA Student Athletes’ Perceptions After a Head Coaching Change

Authors: Emily A. Heller, Todd A. Gilson, Amanda Paule-Koba

Corresponding Author:
Emily A. Heller
Aurora University
347 S. Gladstone
Aurora, IL 60506
eheller@aurora.edu
C: 630-217-2358

“So, Who’s Our New Coach?”: NCAA Student Athletes’ Perceptions After a Head Coaching Change

ABSTRACT
Coaches play an important role in athlete’s collegiate experience, yet with the frequency of head coaching changes, athletes may find themselves at a university without the coach who recruited them. The purpose of this study was to examine athlete’s perceptions regarding the NCAA transfer rules in light of current National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regulations. Forty-seven current NCAA Division I athletes (from 20 institutions) were interviewed about their experiences regarding a coaching change. Overall, most athletes thought there was a discrepancy between NCAA regulations regarding transfers: the regulations are lenient for coaches, whereas athletes’ ability to transfer is restricted. Athletes offered suggestions improving NCAA governance, such as implementing penalties for coaches who leave or allowing athletes to transfer if it would benefit their academic career.

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Leadership and Management Skills of Junior College Athletic Directors

Submitted by Timothy Baghurst, Earl Murray Jr., Chris Jayne and Danon Carter

ABSTRACT
The current and future funding condition for junior college (JC) athletics is unclear, and an athletic program’s budget and funding is usually the responsibility of the athletic director. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences and perceptions of junior college athletic directors to understand financial and leadership issues associated with athletic programs. Sixteen athletic directors (12 male, 4 female) from the same athletic conference in the state of California were interviewed and asked 17 open-ended questions about leadership and the financial issues associated with junior college athletic programs. Three primary themes emerged including leadership, roles and responsibilities, and an unexpected third theme of the student-athlete. Findings and their application to athletic director administration are discussed.

INTRODUCTION
College athletics have become big business, and a university athletic director (AD) plays an integral role in the success of the athletic programs. Colleges and universities at all levels require the managerial skills of an AD. Although leadership and administration of athletics is a frequent focus of research at the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) level, community college (hereto forth referred to as junior college; JC) programs have received little attention. For example, NCAA Division I athletic budgets may vary widely, but substantial budgets are common (14). Thus, application of findings at this level to JC athletic programs is difficult, as JC ADs may face more responsibilities in addition to fewer funding sources and athletic staff at their disposal. Therefore, the focus of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of JC ADs in order to determine how they use their leadership to overcome financial challenges experienced by their athletic programs.

Qualities of an AD
Robertson (2008) highlights several traits and skills necessary to be a successful AD. First, he or she must have the capability of creating an environment that helps all members of the program flourish, and all members of the athletic program must have the same goal in mind. Second, an AD must exhibit the ability to take risk, solve problems, think critically, and be a decision maker. Third, they must have the fiscal savvy to promote their university/college in a way that draws fan and community support thereby generating revenue. Thus, fiscal responsibilities of athletic programs are one of the most important challenges athletic administrators deal with at all levels (20).

JC Leadership Qualities
Nahavandi (2006) defined a leader as “any person who influences individuals and groups within an organization, helps them in the establishment of goals and guides them toward achievement of those goals, thereby allowing them to be effective” (p. 4). Another definition of leadership is “the capacity to influence others by unleashing their power and potential to impact the greater good” (4). Consistent with both definitions, leadership requires the ability to influence followers and guide them toward a goal.

Athletic directors are expected to display leadership skills in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the athletic department, but leadership is also necessary to manage the budget and financials of the program (13). There are several qualities of effective leadership as well as factors that impact the effectiveness of leadership. Effective leadership is defined by the effect on followers. Key traits of effective leaders as described by Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991) include drive, integrity, intelligence, motivation to lead, and knowledge of the business. Overall, leadership success is defined by the effectiveness of leaders to influence followers in every relevant aspect.

Junior college ADs must possess certain leadership qualities or characteristics to be successful. These characteristics include ethics or strong moral values, competence, self-confidence, and a desire to influence (28). Followers must trust the decisions and behaviors of ADs as well as believe in the direction being led. Leadership styles most attributed to ADs are transformational and situational leadership, as these styles incorporates change management, practicality, and flexibility as well as the success these leadership styles have on influencing others.

JC Athletic Finances
The funding for state colleges are being reduced across the country; and this is causing economic instability within many JC athletic programs (34). Junior college ADs are faced with difficult decisions when it comes to their athletic programs, which primarily revolve around the sustainability of the program. In many cases, there is outside pressure to add athletic teams to their program, while in others situations, ADs have to decide to keep a team or cut it from their program to save money (36). In 2009, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour addressed the state’s JC ADs to explain that they needed to scale back the number of athletic teams that they offered, or the schools would have to drop athletics altogether (34).

Leadership is a key to any successful company, and sports administration is no different. However, how an AD may use his or her acquired leadership techniques to maintain and allow an athletic department to flourish under his or her guidance is unclear. This is particularly true at the JC level, where research is limited. Although there are similarities between the roles and responsibilities of ADs at JC compared with larger four-year universities, there are also differences. According to Lewis & Quarterman (2006), the three most important decisions and choices ADs make for managing and leading JC athletic programs are the enjoyment of athletics, the athletic environment, and a desire to learn more about the sports business. ADs from large universities have a greater focus on fiscal management where much of their time is focused on management, leadership, finance, marketing, ethics, legalities, and governance (2). This is not to say that JC ADs ignore ethical or legal issues, for example, but it is not considered their priority.

Although there are large financial deviations within NCAA Division I athletic programs, (14; 37), only a few operate profitably (10). Thus, the university is placed with a financial burden of justifying the existence of a program, and many DI ADs must turn to donors to gain the fiscal capital needed to balance their athletic budgets (35). For example, in the summer of 2012, facing a $4 million deficit, Maryland University decided to eliminate seven competitive athletic teams (17). Similarly, other prominent universities have taken drastic measures to ensure the survival of their athletic programs as a whole: University of California-Berkley had to cut five teams in 2010 and Rutgers University was forced to drop six competitive athletic teams in 2007 (3).

Unfortunately for ADs at the JC level, the financial situation is even bleaker. Most junior colleges lack the same opportunities. Fewer boosters are available and revenue generated at events is lower. Sustainability is a larger concern because of many educational cuts in state funding (Steinback, 2010). Success at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) level does not always equal financial gain or even a program the next year. For example, in 2009 Minneapolis Community and Technical College lost only its second game of the year in the NJCAA DIII national championship game only to have the athletic department shut down completely shortly after. In order to continue to have an athletic program, some institutions have been required to cut the football program; although it is the biggest revenue provider, it is also the most expensive (34).

Study Purpose
The roles and responsibilities of an NCAA AD are well-documented, but less so are those of a JC AD, particularly as they pertain to leadership and financial skills. The current and future funding condition for JC athletics is unclear (6). A better understanding of the skills and qualities necessary for success could be vital as JCs search for their next AD. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the perceived leadership and financial skills of 16 JC ADs to better understand how leadership and financial skills in athletic programs might contribute to success. The qualitative, phenomenological study consisted of semi-structured interviews and asked ADs not only what it was like to serve in that capacity, but also to explain, (1) the relationship between ADs’ perceptions about leadership and funding JC athletic programs, and (2) the relationship between ADs’ perceived leadership skills and financing JC athletic programs. It was intended that ADs explain in general how they perceive leadership and how it is relevant in managing programs. Then, participants were asked to detail their perceived leadership skills to manage programs effectively.

METHOD
Participants

Participants were 16 ADs (12 male, 4 female) from JCs in California who were purposefully selected because they were knowledgeable about athletic programs and financing (11). Participants’ experience ranged between 10 and 21 years (see Table 1). Currently employed ADs were used to provide real-time feedback as opposed to retroactive data.

Procedures
Following university IRB approval, 20 ADs currently employed at a JC within the same athletic conference were mailed a letter to request an interview. From the 20 requests, three participants returned the letter agreeing to participate. The remaining 17 participants were contacted by telephone from which a further 13 agreed to participate.

Prior to each interview participants were asked to sign a consent form. All face-to- face interviews lasted between 25 and 50 minutes and were conducted within a one-month period. The interviews were conducted at a neutral site of the participant’s choosing. A mini cassette recorder was used to record all interviews in their entirety. All interviews were manually transcribed by the researcher using audacity-recording software. Following transcription, each participant was sent his or her transcript to confirm its accuracy.

Instruments
In qualitative research, the researcher is the primary instrument by exploring the phenomenon under study (7). Open-ended questions navigate and focus descriptions of a particular experience through intuition and reflection of that experience. A phenomenological study requires the interviewer to achieve, or attempt to achieve, a state of epoche, the elimination of suppositions and placement of knowledge above every possible doubt (24). Thus, the primary researcher made every effort to suppress any predisposed opinions or presumptions during this study regarding the phenomenon. This allowed the researcher to grasp and freshly comprehend the participants’ experiences with the phenomenon (12).
A face-to-face interview technique with open-ended questions was the most appropriate data collection method as it allowed for some deviation while simultaneously ensuring consistent structure across interviews (12). The semi-structured, open-ended questioning interview process was designed to direct the participant toward his or her lived experiences (27).
NVivo9™ software, in accordance with the modified van Kaam data analysis method, was used to analyze interview transcripts, and identify common themes, and patterns (25). Furthermore, the software package provided a digital transcript of audio files, import, and coding of interview transcripts and aided the exploration of potential emerging themes using a step-by-step process.

Data Validity, Reliability, and Triangulation
Validity is how accurately the account represents participants’ realities of the phenomenon and their credibility (16). To establish the validity for this study, transcripts were shared with the participants to ensure that the data was accurate prior to analysis, which is an important dimension of good quality research (9). This allowed participant to edit, revise, or add information prior to data analysis, none of which did. If both validity and reliability are the goal of qualitative research, the use of triangulation to record the construction of reality is appropriate (18). Triangulation occurs when different data sources, methods of data collection, or types of data are evidence to support research data (12). In the present study, participants were sent interview transcripts and themes derived from the data to ensure its accuracy as a second data source as well as confirm thematic analysis.

Data Analysis
According to Bradley, Curry, and Devers (2007), there is no singular way to conduct qualitative data analysis, although there is general agreement that the process is ongoing. An important first step is to immerse and comprehend the meaning (5). A modification of the van Kaam method of analysis for phenomenological data, which occurs through a multi-step process, was employed in the present study (24). This method identifies common themes and patterns used by participants in a qualitative research study.

The first step requires data to be organized, transcribed, and coded. Organization of data is critical in qualitative research because of the large amount of information gathered during the study (12). The data was organized by material type: all interviews, all observations, and all documents. Finally, data was coded.

The next step in the modified van Kaam data analysis method requires participants’ statements to be categorized, clustered, coded, and labeled into groups (24). The common themes constituting the core elements of the lived experiences of the participants were most important. Coding is a process of making sense of the data, dividing the data into text or image segments, labeling the segments with codes, examining codes for overlap and redundancy, and collapsing these codes into broad themes (12).

RESULTS
The premise of this study was to develop an understanding about the leadership skills of ADs with a particular focus on financial expertise. A semi-structured interview process was used to develop an overall analysis of expert thinking. The analysis revealed three emerging themes: (a) leadership, (b) roles and responsibilities, and (c) student-athletes. Each theme is explained and then supported by participant quotes.

Theme One: Leadership
With respect to leadership, leadership skills, types, and supervision were considered important. Participants mentioned the skills to self-evaluate and feedback and how important it was to reflect on their own performances. Self-evaluation is necessary in addition to soliciting feedback from others who might be able to provide insight. Participant 1 said,

I think through and self-evaluate, and each year I am evaluated by the Vice President and President of the college. The evaluation process also includes coaches, the trainer, and the secretary to find out what I need to improve on and set some goals.

Participant 12 stated, “Understanding my leadership skills involves listening to feedback and asking questions about how I am doing. A good leader must be open to constructive criticism and be a good listener and respect others’ opinions.”

The leadership of ADs may also influence the success of programs. According to Participant 6,

I am a leader by example as a positive person. I am reasonable and approachable, and [I] motivate with pride. I am a leader who likes to inspire others to be better. I am successful if our programs are. I want my coaches and student-athletes to be successful. I want to get the most out of people and care about what they are doing as followers.

Furthermore, Participant 3 said that

As a transformational leader, I look at the goals and vision of the athletic department and what needs to be done for the long term. Each athletic program has different needs and I look at the short and long term goals.

Theme Two: Roles and Responsibilities
A JC AD has multiple roles and responsibilities, but balancing budgets, securing funding, and distributing it appropriately was mentioned frequently. This is supported by Participant 6 who stated that, “Overseeing the budgets is a big part of my job. We have so much money for each program. Every program has a different number of student-athletes, coaches, etc. Each budget is different.”

Athletic directors must be able to budget well for each program they oversee. This is a challenge, as they must find ways to generate revenue to keep the programs active. For example, Participant 7 referred to fundraising.

Fundraising is the best way. I do not know of a community college that does not
fundraise. Most institutions cannot provide things such as backpacks or gear. There are strict rules about what can be purchased with state or district dollars. When there is a shortfall of funds, we have to fundraise to support the programs.

Participant 16 found that securing the necessary budget for JC athletics is frequently a challenge.

Money is very tight for athletic programs at community colleges. As a staff, we must fundraise to keep the programs going. The coaches fundraise for their sport. Some fundraising activities may be charity golf tournaments, barbeques, or bake sales.

Although finances are just one component of the responsibilities of an AD, it is apparent that they are a significant concern. For example, according to Participant 14, “The budget consumes 70% of my time to ensure the programs are run effectively.”

The decisions about athletic programs are a major responsibility for ADs. Participants reported that Title IX Gender Equity was a concern when adding, removing, or maintaining a program. “Title IX gender equity and compliance is a big issue, and we have to evaluate our athletic programs when considering adding or dropping a program”, said Participant 9. Participant 15, who stated that decisions about programs were made in consideration of Title IX and gender equity, supported this. Thus, it becomes a balancing act of meeting guidelines or policies while simultaneously ensuring that there is a sufficient budget.

I try to keep all my athletic programs. I try to make sure they are maintained with enough dollars coming in to keep them going. Terminating a program is the last thing I try to do. If nothing else, adding a program is a good thing but that takes money.

(Participant 16)

In JC athletics, things can change quickly, an AD must make decisions concerning their coaching staff who are responsible for the student-athlete. Thus, a change in a staff member may directly impact the athletic program and the student-athletes. According to Participant 4,
In athletics, change happens often. I deal with change by telling my coaches about changes and we work together on making changes when the time comes. Some people resist change, but change is a reality in athletics.

It is important, therefore, for the AD to be cognizant of upcoming change, and keep the staff apprised of changes that might impact them.

My coaches must deal with change the most because they spend the most time with the student-athletes. I teach them about change, when change is going to take place, how it affect their programs, and help them with change. Some adapt to change well, and others do not. I work with them all.

(Participant 8)

Theme Three: Student-Athletes
Some ADs reported the additional responsibility of having to coach. Although an AD wants to win both as a coach and director, there is recognition of balancing athletic success with academic success. In fact, the ADs placed academics above athletics. According to Participant 16, “The student-athlete should manage time by first looking at their academic responsibilities first then sports.” This is further supported by other examples.

The balance is placing academics ahead of athletics. The student-athlete must be organized and set up time schedules. A balanced student-athlete focuses toward academics and although athletics is important, earning good grades is equally important.

(Participant 14)

Athletic directors recognize that academic success is a reflection on the future prospects of the student-athlete, but also on the JC. Transferring to a larger institution is important for many students.

A student-athlete who cares about moving on beyond a two year college will do a good job with balancing academics and athletics. Although the student-athlete can do well in a sport, the student must have a good grade point average to transfer.

(Participant 8)

Motivation plays a big role in the student-athlete performance athletically and academically. The ADs are tasked with working with coaches to assist with motivating athletes. Just as a coach is a mentor to an athlete, the AD must serve as a mentor to the coach. According to Participant 13, “The athletic director sets the stage for the coaches to motivate the student-athletes.”

I try to promote morale and motivation with my coaches who are the leaders for the student-athlete. The coaches are mentors who motivate and inspire the student-athlete to good. As the athletic director I train the coaches to engage the student-athlete.

(Participant 2)

Some student-athletes are less self-motivated than others and require external motivation to perform better in a sport or academics. The ability to prioritize athletics and completing coursework with passing grades can be a challenge, yet “Increasing his or her self-motivation in the classroom can lead to a successful student-athlete” (Participant 11). Participant 6 noted that athletics has a tendency to be placed ahead of academics.

The challenged student-athlete lacks self-motivation, direction, and the ability to manage their time. This type of student-athlete lacks the passion for being engaged academically to learn in the classroom. They place athletics ahead of academics, which may be why they have difficulties earning good grades in the classroom.

DISCUSSION
The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to explore ADs lived experiences and perceptions of leadership in JC athletic programs particularly in reference to finances. Interview analysis revealed three main themes of leadership, roles and responsibilities, and the student-athlete. Each theme is discussed in light of current research.

Theme One: Leadership
Athletic directors recognized the importance of leadership in influencing the behavior and actions of others. According to Smith (1997), “As leaders face greater uncertainties and changes, and compounded complexities, they strive for greater flexibility and agility” (p. 277). In the present study, ADs saw their role as leaders encompassing a variety of roles and responsibilities as evidenced in the second theme. What is most important with these varying roles and responsibilities is the opportunity to receive feedback on their performance and make the appropriate adjustments based on the feedback received. “Effective leaders learn that comprehensive systematic reviews and evaluations should include every type of resource, every competency and capacity, and every person and position that affects performance” (33). Thus, some participants acquired evaluations from superiors, such as the college president or those working for the participant such as coaches, and applied this feedback to improve their leadership styles and effectiveness. Overall, the feedback an AD receives is a measuring tool for effectiveness in their role.

Theme Two: Roles and Responsibilities
Balancing budgets and securing funding was a clear concern for the participants. Many participants indicated that they were responsible for preparing the budget. A participative budget process involves lower-level administrators and coaches who better understand the individual line items who are responsible for the athletic department’s budget than senior administrators. A top down budgeting process offers short-term budgets imposed by senior administrators more likely to be consistent with the strategic long-term goals and objectives of the athletic department (20). Thus, those ADs expected to complete budgets without the use of participative budget methodology may experience higher levels of stress (32). Participative budgeting is supported by Wickstrom (2006), as an authoritative style of leadership is not conducive to the work force of the modern era, and that to be a successful leader an AD has to be willing to listen to those they lead.

The present study further found that gender equity and the budgetary requirements that stem from Title IX was considered both a financial and leadership challenge. This is not surprising, as gender equity at JCs has been clearly documented (8). A balance needs to exist between athletic sports programs relative to women’s sports and Title IX laws (19). Some ADs are faced with the decision to cut sports programs (Steinback, 2010) and must be cognizant of their current Title IX standing so that there does not become an imbalance of participation opportunities. Thus, there remains work to be done in achieving a standard of gender equity that not only meets the intent of Title IX but fully affords the respect of dignity for female student-athletes (19). As two-year athletic programs consider new directions, the achievement of gender equity within two year athletic programs still needs to be addressed (19), which is recognized by the participants of the present study.
Theme Three: Student-Athletes
The relationship that ADs had with student-athletes was an unexpected finding. This may be in part because some ADs reported the additional responsibility of serving as a coach. The extra coaching duties may cause additional stressors because it limits the time they have to devote to the financial responsibilities of the profession (21). Participants recognized that they were responsible with the coaches for improving both student athletic and academic performance. Participants stressed the importance of academics over athletics, but this may be due to efforts by the administration to increase retention and graduation rates (29). Not only did ADs report high levels of interaction with student-athletes, they generally viewed it as part of their responsibility to motivate the student to achieve both in athletics and in the classroom. That ADs viewed this as a component of their leadership was unexpected, as this task is frequently the responsibility of a coach or even assistant (15).

Limitations and Future Research
Although the present study provides some interesting findings, they should be evaluated with respect to its limitations. First, this study was limited to current full-time ADs at JCs in the state of California, which may not translate to the experiences of ADs in other locations or athletic conferences. Second, only four participants were female. This is not uncommon (1), and future research should consider whether opinions and perceptions differ between genders. For example, impressions of Title IX may differ by gender (1), and Title IX challenges may differ between JCs and traditional four-year institutions. Third, the specific financial expertise of each participant was not assessed. Therefore, future research should consider whether financial education and training improves AD financial expertise and progress toward short, intermediate, and long term strategic goals. The recommendation may benefit both low-level and senior level administrators at the JC. In addition, future researchers should consider conducting a broader survey of the general background and experiences of ADs in JCs.

CONCLUSIONS
The success of collegiate athletic programs can depend upon the skills of their ADs (31). Thus, they must possess leadership skills across multiple disciplines. Because financial and budgetary concerns were most prevalent among the participants of the present study, future research needs to investigate the training being provided for ADs. The financing and budget process is vital in ensuring that athletic programs are successful, and an action plan is needed for current and future ADs to use as a model to understand the entire financial and budget process of funding athletics programs.

APPLICATIONS IN SPORT
Empirical research has focused primarily on the Division I AD. However, these findings suggest that JC ADs encounter a variety of challenges which have not been investigated. JC administrators need to consider the budgetary and fundraising background and expertise of applicants, which is a paramount responsibility of ADs in JC.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
None
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Sports Fantasy Camps: Offering Fans a More Immersive Experience

 

ABSTRACT
Today’s sport organizations have multiple ways of connecting with their fans, including social media, fantasy leagues, facility tours, and others.  Many are developing Sports Fantasy Camps to allow fans an opportunity to fulfill their sports dreams.  Here, for example, a Duke University basketball fan experiences a behind-the-scenes look at the basketball program including the opportunity to play actual games in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  Fans benefit from the social interaction, networking and dream fulfillment of such experiences. Conversely, sport organizations are able to create a tighter bond with both fans and supporters while generating additional revenues by providing such immersive experiences.   The purpose of this paper is to discuss the use of Sports Fantasy Camps as a form of Sports Experience Tourism.   Current practices among camp providers are discussed, the benefits for both participants and provides are offered, and the opportunities for growth (such as new markets served, new programs, and new formats) as provided as are the relevant NCAA limitations to ensure collegiate programs offering such fan experiences remain in compliance with NCAA regulations.

Introduction

In June 2012, Americans celebrated Father’s Day.  In addition to the usual Father’s Day gifts (such as clothing, tools, or children’s art work), dads were treated to more experience-driven gifts.   The National Retail Federation’s annual Father’s Day Survey found that 44% of consumers had planned a special outing for Dad, including special dinners, a ball game, or possibly a sports fantasy camp (13).  Consistent with this trend, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Texas Rangers) offered their fourth annual Father’s Day Baseball Fantasy Camp for Dads.  Here is how it was described in a press release for the event (22):

MYRTLE BEACH, SC – Are you a dad? Have you ever wanted to feel the heat of a fastball and euphoria of a homerun? This Father’s Day is your chance! The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are hosting a Father’s Day Fantasy Camp on June 17th at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

The Fantasy Camp will give all fathers the chance to play a round robin tournament on the same field as the Pelicans.
Participants will be divided into teams, coached by Pelicans players, and will play against each other at 9AM on Father’s Day. Registration begins at 8:15.

Participants will receive an official Pelicans New Era hat, official Pelicans batting practice pullover, an opportunity to hit in the batting cages at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, four field box tickets for that night’s game against Potomac at 6:05pm.

The clinic also includes free lunch for all participants. The Father’s Day Fantasy Camp is just $125 per person.

In September 2012, University of Kentucky (UK) men’s basketball coach John Calipari will host his first “John Calipari Basketball Experience” at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY (25).  Participants will pay $7,500 for a 4-day immersion with the defending men’s NCAA National Champion UK basketball program.  Participants will receive the following benefits:

  • Experience a weekend in the life of a UK basketball player
  • Enjoy unprecedented access to Coach Cal and the inner workings of UK basketball
  • Play in historic Lexington Center’s Rupp Arena – Get introduced and enter the court with the fanfare of a UK player
  • Compete in championships games, tournaments, and contests
  • Attend private social functions
  • Receive exclusive swag bag of NIKE branded UK apparel and gear
  • Hotel accommodations for three nights (single occupancy)
  • Ground transportation to all events
  • All meals
  • 8 tickets to the Ultimate Basketball Fantasy Champion game with the UK Alumni Basketball Game in Lexington Center’s Rupp Arena to follow The UK Alumni game

Proceeds from the event will go to the Calipari Family Foundation (making part of the enrollment fee tax deductible for participants).  The University of Kentucky and Coach Calipari are following the lead of other successful NCAA basketball coaches who have developed Sports Fantasy Camps, including Duke University (Mike Krzyzewski’s K Academy), Syracuse University (Jim Boeheim SU Basketball Fantasy Camp), University of Kansas (Bill Self Basketball Experience), Indiana University (Tom Crean and the IU Basketball Family Fantasy Weekend), and others.

The purpose of this manuscript is to examine the growing presence of (and concurrent fan interest in) Sports Fantasy Camps.  First, an overview of this form of Sports Experience Tourism is provided.  Second, the benefits of these fantasy camps to participants, the providers, and other stakeholders are explored.  Third, areas of growth for Sports Fantasy Camps are discussed.

Overview of Sports Experience Tourism

Today’s sports fans have a variety of ways to interact with their favorite teams and sports. They can follow their favorite athletes and coaches on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.  They can subscribe to relevant news feeds on their smart phones.  They can compete in online fantasy sports leagues.  They can watch and/or listen to their teams on local television or radio.  Yet, some fans seek a more direct and personal interaction and connection with their favorite teams and athletes.  The Sport Journal previously provided an overview of “Consumer Experience Tourism” in sport-related industries (20).  In that piece, the authors highlighted tourism opportunities centered on company plant tours, visitor centers, and museums in sport-related firms.  Since the time of that writing, there has been a dramatic increase in more immersive fan experiences to now include stadium tours, fan fantasy camps, video games (e.g., Tiger Woods Golf, Major League Baseball, NCAA football), equipment trials, online fantasy sports leagues, and other highly interactive and personalized experiences.

It is suggested here that the term “Sports Experience Tourism” best captures this growing form of Sports Tourism and fan “connectedness” to their favorite teams, athletes, sporting venues, equipment providers, and other related parties.  For example, a baseball fan can tour the Louisville Slugger factory (and take batting practice) in Louisville, KY, take a tour of the Great American Ballpark (Scotts Field) in nearby Cincinnati, OH, and, coming full circle, head to Spring Training for a Fantasy Baseball Camp with the Cincinnati Reds in Goodyear, AZ.

Public tours of sports stadiums, race tracks, and arenas have become very commonplace as fans wish to see the inner-workings of these venues.  For instance, fans can tour the stadiums of all Major League Baseball teams.   Some tour operators organize fan fantasy trips to allow fans to catch a series of games on consecutive days but in different cities.  Diamond Baseball Tours offered the following itinerary for their “West Coast Swing 2012” package (7):

  • Wednesday (June 13), LA Angels @ LA Dodgers
  • Thursday (June 14), Houston @ San Francisco
  • Friday (June 15), San Diego @ Oakland
  • Saturday (June 16), Arizona @ LA Angels
  • Sunday (June 17), Tour LA and San Diego
  • Monday (June 18), Texas @ San Diego
  • Tuesday (June 19), Seattle @ Arizona
  • Wednesday (June 20), Grand Canyon National Park

In fact, there are websites and books dedicated to helping fans plan the most efficient route to catch a game in all stadiums in defined periods of time (see 2,26).
A number of venues have team or facility museums that tie together the history of the venue and franchise with a tour of the operation.  For example, visitors to Yankee Stadium will visit the New York Yankees museum as well as Monument Park honoring Yankee greats of the past (23).  Visitors to Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY can enjoy the Kentucky Derby Museum on the grounds in addition to their tour of the racing facility (5).  Similarly, visitors to the Daytona Speedway will enjoy the World Center for Racing (6).  Each of these sport organizations uses different elements of their brand to showcase a new experience for the consumer.  The uniqueness of the facility, the nostalgia of history, and details of operations are all aspects not normally experienced through the purchase of regular admission to an event.

A Focus on Sports Fantasy Camps
While Sports Tourism is a multi-billion dollar business and one of the fastest growing areas of the $4.5 trillion global travel and tourism industry (33), little research has been conducted to examine the impact and participation rates of the various elements of Sport Tourism such as Sports Fantasy Camps.  Since the first Sports Fantasy Camps were introduced in 1996, there has been tremendous growth in the number of programs available as well as the number of fans participating in them (12).  Typically, fans are offered the opportunity to immerse themselves in a favorite sport with current or retired players and coaches and to do so (ideally) in the venue where they currently watch the team play.  Holly Rowe (29), a reporter for ESPN, describes her entry to Basketball Fantasy Camp at the University of Kansas as follows:

It gives me chills every time I turn on to Naismith Drive. You must travel this road in Lawrence, Kan., to reach one of basketball’s most storied gyms, Phog Allen Fieldhouse. I have covered many games here as reporter for ESPN. But today, I will be in a different role, assistant coach at the Bill Self Basketball Fantasy Camp.”

Ronca (28) describes Sports Fantasy Camps as “a cross between vacation and training camp.  You’re paying for the privilege to spend a few days hanging out with your idols – mingling, meeting-and-greeting, learning more about the game and even playing alongside your hero.”   Zullo (38) suggests the challenge for providers is to find the right balance between hospitality and reality.   Heydari (14) notes that fantasy camps are neither the ease of summer camps nor the rigor of training camps.

An interesting aspect of the Sports Fantasy Camp experience is that fans can use the camps to, in fact, remove the “fantasy” aspect of the sport and become actual participants in games and organizations they enjoy and admire.  These fans are able to both watch and participate in the experiences of players, coaches, and administrators of sport organizations, thus removing the mystic of the experience as viewed from the stands or television.  Without Fantasy Camps, the fan’s perception of what players and managers experience is left to the imagination, speculation, or rumor (again, given their indirect participation).  The Sports Fantasy camp experience gets the fan “out of the seats and onto the playing field” to become active participants.  As such, the term “Sports Fantasy Camp” may be a misnomer as fans are shown the reality of sport rather than the fantasy of sport.

Sports Fantasy Camps are used by Sport organizations for a number of reasons, including: (a) creating more brand loyalty; (b) generating additional revenue; (c) getting involved in philanthropic ventures; (d) providing additional sponsorship opportunities; and (e) stimulating sport tourism in the local economy.   Table One provides a list of example Sports Fantasy Camps from both Collegiate and Professional sports.  Note, Table One is meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive.  All camps were active in 2012.  Table Two provides the websites for all camps profiled in Table One.

Table One – Example Sports Fantasy Camps (active in 2012)

Sport

Provider

Brief Description

Cost

Basketball Rick Barry Hoops Fantasy
  • 3-day residential camp in Sonoma Valley Wine Country (Rohnert Park, CA)
  • Coaching and competition
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided

 

$2,395
  Dwyane Wade
  •  4-day residential camp in Miami, FL
  • Coaching and competition provided
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided

 

12,500
  Mike Krzyzewski
  • 5-day residential camp in Durham, NC (home of Duke University)
  • Draft, training, and tournament competition in Cameron Indoor Stadium
  • Leadership development
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided
$10,000

(includes a $4,000 tax deductible contribution)

  John Calipari
  • 3-day residential camp in Lexington, KY (home to the University of Kentucky)
  • Play in Lexington Center’s Rupp Arena … including player introductions
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided.

 

$7,495

($1,500 discount for Citi Card members)

Football Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 3-day residential camp in both Latrobe, PA (home of Summer Training Camp at Saint Vincent College) and Pittsburgh, PA
  • Tour of Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on FRI, then camp in Latrobe for SAT and SUN.
  • Skills Competitions
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided

 

$649
  Dabo Swinney (Clemson)
  • 3-day residential camp in Clemson, SC (home to Clemson University)
  • Skills competition and training
  • Rub Howard’s Rock and Run down the hill into Death Valley stadium
  • On-field All-in Bowl Game in Death Valley Stadium
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided

 

$2,000

($1,400 tax deductible)

  Notre Dame
  • 5-day residential camp in South Bend, IN (home to the University of Notre Dame)
  • Skills competition and training
  • On-field flag football game in Notre Dame Stadium
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided

 

$4,495

Source:  Original.  Information gathered from camp websites.

Table One continued …

Sport

Provider

Brief Description

Cost

  Auburn
  • 2-day residential camp in Auburn, AL (home to Auburn University)
  • Auburn Game Day experience in Jordan-Hare Stadium
  • Includes lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided.

 

$2,500
  Michigan State
  • 2-day residential camp in Lansing, MI (home to Michigan State University)
  • The non-contact practice sessions  held in Spartan Stadium, including player introductions
  • Camp-ending dinner with distinguished alumni and former players
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided.

 

$1,350
  Michigan
  • 2-day residential camp in Ann Arbor, MI (home to the University of Michigan)
  • Scrimmage in Michigan Stadium
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided.
$5,000

($4,250 is tax deductible)

Baseball Cincinnati Reds
  • 8-day residential camp in Goodyear, AZ (Spring Training location)
  • Competition among teams
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided.

 

$4,500
  New York Yankees
  • 6-day residential camp in Tampa, FL (Spring Training location)
  • Games among teams
  • Dream Games against former Yankee players
  • Yankee Stadium Camp reunion the following summer (in New York)
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided.

 

$4,950
  Boston Red Sox
  • 9-day residential camp in Fort Myers, FL (Spring Training location)
  • Games among teams on local fields
  • Dream Games against former Red Sox players in Hammond Stadium (spring training stadium)
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided.

 

$4,195
  Minnesota Twins
  • 8-day residential camp in Fort Myers, FL (Spring Training location)
  • Games among teams on local fields
  • Games also played in Hammond Stadium (spring training stadium)
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided.

 

$4,095

Source:  Original.  Information gathered from camp websites.

Table One continued …

Sport

Provider

Brief Description

Cost

Hockey Wayne Gretzky
  • 6-day residential camp in Las Vegas, NV
  • Skills competitions and training for team who then compete in a championship tournament
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided.

 

$11,999
Soccer Sports Fantasy Camps featuring Brandi Chastain and others
  • 5-day residential camp in Santa Clara, CA
  • Coaching and drills from active and former professional players and coaches
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided.

 

$3,095
Tennis John Newcombe
  • MEN: 6-day residential camp at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, TX
  • MEN-AND-WOMEN: 4-day residential camp at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, TX
  • Team practices with retired pro players
  • Match play among participants AND against the pros
  • Lodging, meals, and ground transportation provided

 

$4,745-$4,975 (Men’s Camp)

1,470 – $1,850 (Men-and-Women’s Camp)

Golf Professional Golf Association
  • Single-day residential experience in Ponte Vedra, FL (home to the TPC Sawgrass Golf Course)
  • VIP locker room privileges
  • Personal professional caddie with name on bib
  • First tee announcement and introduction
  • One-evening’s lodging included

 

$1,385 – $1,525
NASCAR Richard Petty Driving Experience
  • Programs offered at 23 different locations: Atlanta, GA; Madison, IL; Brooklyn, MI; Bristol, TN; Homestead- Miami, FL; New Loudon, NH; Fontana, CA; Indianapolis, IN; Orlando, FL; Charlotte, NC Newton, IA; Phoenix, AZ; Joliet, IL; Kansas City, MO; Fountain, CO; Darlington Raceway, SC; Sparta, KY;  Richmond, VA; Daytona, FL; Las Vegas, NV; Fort Worth, TX; Monroe, WA; and Martinsville, VA.
  •  Single-day experience
  • Drive and Ride programs both available
  • Non-residential program (lodging and meals not provided)

 

$109 (ride) to $2,699 (full racing immersion)

Source:  Original.  Information gathered from camp websites.

Table One continued …

Sport

Provider

Brief Description

Cost

Motorsports Mario Andretti Racing Experience
  • Programs offered at 11 different locations: Atlanta, GA; Fontana, CA; Charlotte, NC; Joliet, IL; Darlington, SC; Homestead-Miami, FL; Sparta, KY; Las Vegas, NV; Myrtle Beach, SC; Richmond, VA; and Fort Worth, TX.
  • Single-day experience
  • Both NASCAR (closed-wheel) and INDY (open-wheel) experiences available
  • Drive and Ride programs both available
  • Non-residential program (lodging and meals not provided)

 

$129 (ride) to $464 (drive)
Drag Racing Frank Hawley
  • Programs provided at 7 different locations: Gainesville, FL; Las Vegas, NV; Indianapolis, IN; Baytown, TX; Norwalk, OH; Reading, PA; and Denver, CO
  • Single-day and multi-day experiences provided.
  • Drive and Ride programs both available
  • Participants can earn their NHRA licenses which allows them to compete at NHRA tracks

 

Varies based on program
Rodeos Sankey Rodeos
  • Programs provided at 10 different locations:  Derby, KS; Van Wert, OH; Penrose, CO; Buhl, ID; Zolfo Springs, FL; New Caney, TX; Humansville, MO; Summerville, GA; Centerville, IA; Martin, TN
  • 3-day and 4-day Rodeo School and instruction
  • Non-residential program (lodging and meals not provided)

 

$410 (3-day)

$435 (4-day)

Skiing Phi & Steve Mahre
  • Multi-day non-residential program delivered in Deer Valley, UT.
  • 3-day and 5-day options
  • Coaching, training, and competition provided.
  • Video analysis of skiing technique
  • Evening social programs

 

$840 (3-day)

$1,290 (5-day)

Soccer LA Galaxy
  • Multi-day non-residential program delivered in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Training, Coaching, and Competition
  • Daily Meals
  • Tickets to Galaxy Game(s)
$1,095 (Children’s camp)

$1,500 (Parent’s Camp)

 

Table Two – Websites for Sports Fantasy Camps Profiled

Sport

Team or Provider

Website

Professional Basketball Rick Barry Hoops Fantasy http://nationalacademyofathletics.com/camps/basketball-fantasy
  Dwyane Wade http://dwyanewadefantasycamp.com/#/home
College Basketball Mike Krzyzewski http://coachk.com/camps-and-clinics/k-academy/
  John Calipari http://www.johncaliparibasketballexperience.com/
Professional Football Pittsburgh Steelers http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Fantasy-camp-fun-for-fans-former-players/72fbecb7-cb52-4f8a-a446-27dfc66fd620
College Football Dabo Swinney (Clemson) http://www.daboswinneyfootballcamp.com/Default.asp?ID=179
  Notre Dame http://www.und.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/nd-fantasy-camp.html
  Auburn http://www.auburnfootballcamps.com/fantasy-camp.cfm
  Michigan State http://www.greenwhitefantasy.com/
  Michigan http://www.uofmfootballexperience.org/
Professional Baseball Cincinnati Reds http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/cin/fan_forum/fantasy_camp.jsp
  New York Yankees http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/nyy/fan_forum/fantasycamp.jsp
  Boston Red Sox http://sportsfantasycamps.com/boston_red_sox_baseball.cfm
  Minnesota Twins http://yuratwin.com/
Hockey Wayne Gretzky http://www.gretzky.com/fantasycamp/
Women’s Soccer Brandi Chastain and others http://sportsfantasycamps.com/Z%20Womens%20%20Soccer%20Flyer.pdf
Tennis John Newcombe http://www.tennisfantasies.net/
Golf Professional Golf Association http://www.touracademy.com/platinum.aspx
NASCAR Richard Petty Driving Experience http://www.drivepetty.com/
Motorsports Mario Andretti Racing Experience http://www.andrettiracing.com/MARE/
Drag Racing Frank Hawley http://www.frankhawley.com/
Rodeos Sankey Rodeos http://www.sankeyrodeo.com/
Skiing Phil & Steve Mahre http://www.mahretrainingcenter.com/
Soccer Los Angeles Galaxy http://www.lagalaxy.com/camps/fantasy#yfc

Source: Original (addresses active as of August 2012).

The camps listed in Table One typically combine lodging, meals, coaching, competition, social events, and other activities in a multi-day immersion.   The prices for these camps can change annually based on the number of days, single- or double-occupancy of rooms, and demand based on recent success of the team and/or organization.
Prices also reflect the exclusivity of the fan experience.  Many Sports Fantasy Camps are expensive in relation to other sports experiences (such as a single game ticket) and, therefore, appeal to a smaller segment of the overall consumer base.  Exclusivity is also enhanced by purposefully limiting the number of participants in a camp so attendees get more personal attention.  For example, the University of Michigan only accepted 116 participants for the 2012 Michigan Men’s Football Experience (19).  This smaller number of fans creates a ‘private club’ feel where members are privy to the exclusive experience, knowledge or networking opportunities provided by the camp.
In addition to the camps outlined above, many active and retired players host individual one-day camps.  These camps are usually provided for free and target children.  Many use an umbrella organization such as ProCamps to organize and market their camps (27).

The Fantasy Camps highlighted in Table One are multi-day residential camps at fixed locations.   Notre Dame Football campers, for example, want to run onto the turf in Notre Dame Stadium.  They want to experience of slapping the ‘Play like a Champion Today” sign that has become part of Notre Dame tradition and lure as they’ve seen in the movie, “Rudy.”  Kentucky Basketball fans want to run the court in Rupp Arena.  The same can be said for Duke basketball fans and their desire to shoot a basketball in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Single-day camps, such as the program offered by the Myrtle Beach Pelicans presented in the opening, represent a low-cost market entry strategy for a school, player, or coach interested in introducing Sports Fantasy Camps to their camp programs. The Charlotte Bobcats (and majority owner Michael Jordan) introduced a one-day fantasy camp for premium season ticket holders only (31).  There are also ‘road-show’ fantasy camps where the camp is brought to participants.  Rowdy Gaines, Olympic Champion and NBC Swimming broadcaster, travels the world providing swimming and stroke clinics for children and master swimmers alike (9).

Benefits for Stakeholders from Fan Fantasy Camps

The Fan Experience
In a sports-crazed culture such as the United States, it is not surprising sport fans would be interested in a Fantasy Camp experience.  Hyman (15) notes that some people just never lose their sports dreams and Sports Fantasy Camps enable them to fulfill their dreams.  Participation in Sports Fantasy Camps allows participants to build their skills, meet like-minded people, and/or get inspired from a personal hero (34).  Imagine life-long fans of Wayne Gretzky or Cal Ripken getting the opportunity to interact personally with these sports icons.  Fantasy camps also provide the opportunity to both relive and re-write the past (10).  For instance, a person who aspired to play for a certain team but never achieved that goal can fulfill that dream in a fantasy camp.

Loyal supporters of a collegiate athletic program can further connect with their favorite teams, coaches, and universities by participating in their Fantasy Camps (38).  Participants benefit from the sense of connection or fraternity that develops through the shared immersion experience (4,29,36).  The connection with like-minded people (i.e., fans of the same University or professional sports team) provides a networking opportunity for business professionals as well (36).

The Team and Organizational Benefits
The providers of Sports Fantasy camps have a wonderful opportunity to promote and achieve goodwill among their fan base.  By doing so, they are encouraging fans to become or remain brand loyal.  This higher level of brand loyalty may lead to increased sales opportunities for the organization (8).  For example, a partial season ticket holder may upgrade to a full season package.  Or, a ticket holder may upgrade to a different type of ticket, such as box seats, floor level, or a suite (depending on the sport and stadium configuration).  To reward fan loyalty, many sports camps provide discounts to alumni campers returning for another year.

Providing Fantasy Camp experiences can create fundraising opportunities for the school as well (8).  For instance, a collegiate ticket holder may increase their level of athletic donation as a result of the increased connection they feel to the University as a result of their Fan Fantasy experience.    For the 2012 Coach K Academy, $4,000 of the $10,000 participation fee represents a charitable contribution to Duke University (16).  Dabo Swinney’s 2012 Fantasy Camp will raise money for Clemson’s Call Me MISTER (“Mentors Instructing Students toward Effective Role Models”) Program, an effort to increase the diversity of teachers working in the state’s elementary schools (32).

The Fantasy Camp itself may serve as a fundraiser for an organization outside the university or athletic department (36).  All the proceeds of the John Calipari Basketball Experience will go to charity through the Calipari Family Foundation (25).  Dabo Swinney directs a portion of each entry fee for his Ladies Clinic to Breast Cancer awareness and treatment (32,38).  The Michigan Men’s Football Experience has raised for than $1 Million for the University of Michigan Health System’s Prostate Cancer Research Fund since its founding in 2006 by then-Coach Lloyd Carr.  The 2012 camp raised over $355,000 of the cumulative $1 million total (19).

A team can strengthen its connection to important stakeholder partners by offering the Fan Fantasy camp experience as an incentive for employees to improve performance.  In its promotional literature, the Rick Barry Hoops Fantasy Experience suggests companies offer their camp as a reward for high performing employees (such as a prize in a sales contest for sales people) (3).   The ability for a sport organization to positively influence the revenue generation of another organization can be very impactful in establishing a long-term relationship between the two groups.  These win-win relationships have the potential to becoming more impactful by transitioning into more financially-bound contracts such as sponsorships.

Opportunities for Growth

More Sport Organizations Providing Sports Fantasy Camps
The expectation is to see continued growth in fan immersion experiences in the years to come.   Zullo (38), writing in Athletic Management (a trade publication reaching College and High School athletic administrators) notes that Fantasy Sports Camps should not be solely for marquis athletic programs.  He encourages smaller colleges and even high schools to set up Fantasy Camps.  Some high schools sponsor alumni sports games and alumni games between rival schools. In fact, Gatorade sponsors their Replay Series to support these types of reunion rivalries.  15,000 fans turned out to watch the cross-border showdown between Easton, PA and Phillipsburg, NJ as the two schools played a rematch of their 1993 rivalry game (11).

More Single-Day Programs
Most programs outlined here are multi-day experiences.  As noted earlier, single-day camps represent a low-cost market entry strategy for schools looking to introduce Sports Fantasy Camps to their camp programs.  The lower price-point allows such camps to appeal to a broader audience.  As such, issues related to lodging, meals, and ground transportation are minimized as the school tests fan interest in these experiences.

More Immersive Experiences
Zullo (38) notes the challenge to balance reality with hospitality when delivering a Fan Fantasy Camp.  Coaches need to adjust their approach and tempo to connect with this fan audience.  Participants want time with coaches, the opportunity to put on a game-day uniform, the opportunity to make a grand announced entry into the arena, and other memorable moments not available to the casual fan.  Further, given the desire to connect with die-hard fans who may participate every year, the Fantasy Camp experience may need to be expanded each year to provide a differential experience for camp alumni.

More Game Day Experiences
Along with more immersive experiences, it is likely that sport organizations will develop more game-day fantasy activities as well.  While limiting the intrusion to game-day routines, Fantasy Campers want to enjoy a pre-game meal with their team, listen to the coach’s pre-game pep talk, possibly play in on-the-field or on-the-court scrimmages at halftime, or act as an invited coach to engage in in-game sideline activities.  These experiences may be very easily developed at Universities using often lower-attended games such as non-conference games or games while students are away (i.e., mid-December basketball games, Labor Day football games, Spring Break baseball games, and others).

More For-Parents-of-Player Camps
Million Lacrosse Camps is hosting the first-ever Lacrosse Fantasy Camp in September 2012 in Baltimore, MD.  This 3-day camp is targeted, among other groups, parents of youth lacrosse players who never played the game themselves.  Promotional materials offer the camp as a great bonding experience for athlete and parent (18).  This model may work for other sports, particularly those sports that have increased in participation and popularity in recent years (such as Volleyball, Soccer, and others).

More Diversity among Participants
The Sports Fantasy Camps outlined in this manuscript are largely targeting male fans.  As such, is likely that the number of Sports Fantasy Camps targeting female consumers/fans will increase.  Currently, the New York Yankees do offer a Women’s Mini-Fantasy camp that runs concurrently with a session of their men’s camp (3-day camp versus the 6-day men’s camp) (23).   The John Newcombe Tennis experience offers separate Men’s-only (6-day) and Men’s-and-Women’s (4-day) tennis fantasy camps (24).  The benefits of targeting the female consumer include expanding the current brand loyal fan base, reducing the cost to participants (particularly when a shared registration and lodging are included), connecting with more members of a brand loyal family, and providing a bond experience for a couple when male-female camps are run concurrently and/or combined.

Many universities run “Ladies Clinics” to teach female fans more about the games, teams, and programs (38). These events tend to be single-day and even partial-day experiences (such as an Evening gathering).   Here is an overview of the Dabo Swinney Ladies Clinic held at Clemson University in July 2012:

  • Presentations by Coaches in the West End Zone facility including the Tiger weight room, locker room, team meeting room, and Death Valley.
  • Meet and Greet Photo w/ Coach Swinney.
  • Interaction with all the Tiger Football Coaches and families.
  • Shopping with Clemson Tiger vendors.
  • Lunch provided by Wendy’s.
  • Silent and Live Auction items.
  • Special Guest Speakers and Entertainment.

The day runs for 7 hours (9:00 AM – 4:00 PM) with a cost of $60 ($15 of which goes to breast cancer research) (32).  In the future, such events may be expanded to include more physical experiences of playing the game (as the New York Yankees provide to female fans).   Another option is the development of a separate event for the audience interested in more of an athletic-immersion into College football.

As noted earlier, participation in Sports Fantasy camps creates a great bonding and social experience for participants.  Looking ahead, schools may elect to target defined groups for their camps rather than individuals.  Such groups could include Father-Son, Father-Daughter, Mother-Son, and Mother-Daughter (38). The University of Evansville provides a 2-day Father-Son Fantasy Basketball camp (30).  In their marketing literature, they describe the camp as a “great bonding experience.”   This positioning (the bonding experience) can be used by others to provide a memorable camp experience for couples and groups.

Children’s Sports Fantasy Camps are commonly delivered but tend to be developed for the larger ‘revenue sports’ such as Football and Basketball.  Baseball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, and other camps could allow an institution to connect with a broader group of its fans. The Los Angeles Galaxy offers both a Youth Fantasy Camp as well as an Adult Fantasy Camp experience (17).

Additional Considerations

Change in Plans for Providers
In recent years, some providers of Sports Fantasy Camps have discontinued their operations.  Basketball great Michael Jordon previously welcomed interested fans to Las Vegas for his Michael Jordan’s Senior Flight School at a cost of $17,000 for a 4-day experience.  Miami Heat Guard Dwyane Wade, a fellow Nike athlete, has filled that void left by Jordan’s departure (due to his duties with the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats) to provide the Dwyane Wade Basketball Fantasy camp ($12,500 for a 4-day experience) (35).  It is interesting to note that the Bobcats did introduce a single-day fan experience for premium ticket holders after Jordan joined their leadership and ownership team.  Similarly, Bill Russell used to provide a fan fantasy camp in Las Vegas but it has discontinued operation.

Coaching changes can affect the availability of a university’s Football Fantasy program.  Penn State University had provided its Penn State Football Fantasy camp for six years before suspending the camp for the 2012 year (assumedly given the NCAA sanctions, pending lawsuits, and the passing of legendary Coach Joe Paterno).  It will be interesting to see if the new coaching staff elects to reintroduce this popular program in years to come.  Similarly former coach Pete Carroll provided the USC Trojan Flashback Camp experience for fans of the University of Southern California.  Later, his successor (Coach Lane Kiffin) briefly offered the program but it has since been discontinued (it has not been offered since 2010).  The same dynamic occurred at the University of Oklahoma where Coach Jeff Capel’s dismissal led (assumedly) to the cancellation of the Fantasy Basketball Camp held at the University.

Ideally, fans are supportive of the Fantasy Camp experience and will not wane in their interest with coaching changes.  However, teams and organizations must be aware of this possible dynamic.  Zullo (38) notes that some coaches may wish to direct all profits away from the university.  He encourages athletic administrators to contractually tie camp revenues to the athletic department (to make camp disruptions less likely when coaching changes occur.

Caution to Fans
Attending a Sports Fantasy Camp can be expensive.  The camps profiled here tend to cost from $2,000 to $12,500 for a multi-day immersion experience.  As noted earlier, spots are often limited so interested fans must act quickly to ensure their participation.  The K Academy of Duke University accepts only 80 participants per year at a cost of $10,000 per participant in 2012.  The same is true for Coach Calipari’s Basketball Experience at the University of Kentucky which cost $7,500 per participant in 2012.
As noted earlier, Sports Fantasy Camps offer participants more rigor than Summer Camps but less rigor than Training Camps.  Injuries do occur (21).  For example, attendees to Sankey Rodeo Schools do ride bulls and can be injured.  The Andrews Institute (1) recommends participants should train for 12 weeks before attending such events.  ESPN reporter Gene Wojciechowski participated in the Coach K Academy at Duke University in 2010.  He describes his physical state at the end of camp below (37).

DURHAM, N.C. — My right knee is the color of Duke’s alternate road unis and puffier than a croissant. The back of my calf feels like it’s been thwacked with a car antenna. And you don’t even want to know about the goop under the nail of my smashed middle toe.

 I’ve got more bruises than a week-old banana. The four on my left arm form a Hawaiian Islands-like chain of black and blue. The three on the right are bundled together like the Belt of Orion. Just for fun, there’s one on my left rib cage and another on my left hip.

 Meanwhile, scabbing has commenced on the two semi-juicy strawberries on my left elbow and on the three below the knee. There’s a four-inch scratch mark near my right shoulder and my wedding band does a U-turn every time I try forcing it over the cotton ball-sized knuckle on my ring finger.

 In short, I look like I went body-surfing on a gravel road. Forget about the Miracle On Ice; how about the miracle of ice? During a recent five-day span I spent more time with frozen cubes than a cocktail straw.

… And yet, here I am trying desperately to figure out a way to play in next year’s K Academy. That’s how ridiculously and torturously fun it was.
ConcluSIONS

The development of Sports Fantasy Camps can represent a win-win relationship for sports teams and their fans.  Through their participation in such programs, fans get a behind-the-scenes look at their favorite teams and the facilities supporting the program.  They are able to connect with like-minded sports fans while fulfilling their sports fantasies.  These memorable experiences have a bonding effect on the participants.  Further, fans often get the satisfaction of having helped raise money for a worthy charitable cause.

The teams providing such immersive Sports Fantasy Camp experiences are able to promote brand loyalty among their fans.  Doing so may open up new sales and/or donation opportunities in the future.  Athletic administrators are urged to consider the development (or expansion) of such programs in the future.  In particular, they are advised to consider the addition of more immersive experiences where fans play the games or compete in drills rather than simply touring their facilities.  The development of single-day fantasy camps is a cost-effective way for a team to ‘test drive’ the concept on their fans.  Such new formats may attract new consumers given their lower costs to fans.
To date, with notable exceptions, Sports Fantasy Camps have largely targeted male fans.  Teams are encouraged to look to other groups such as female fans, complete families, or parent-child pairing to expand the reach of their Fantasy Camp programs.  Successful Sports Fantasy Camps must strike the balance between fan reality of competition and fan hospitality as guests of the program for the day or week.  Satisfied buyers will likely become brand allies by encouraging others to attend in the future.  These satisfied fans may be more likely to buy more, give more, tell others more often, and be willing to do similar camps in other sports.  This connection represents the desired win-win by sport marketers and their fans.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
None

References

 Source:  Original.  Information gathered from camp websites.

 

 

 

An Exploratory Study of Physical Activity Patterns of College Students at a Midwest State University in the United States

Abstract

This study examines physical activity (PA) patterns in the context of global leisure activity of undergraduate students in a large Midwest state university.
A sample of students (n = 253) from a total population of 975 in the school of Physical Education Sport and Exercise Science participated in the study in
the fall of 2010. Student PA was measured using the leisure and physical activity survey (LPA). Descriptive statistics and nonparametric correlation analyses
were used to examine the relationship between five leisure and physical activities and four independent factors. Skewness and kurtosis values ranged from |.022|
to |1.794| and |.311| to |2.374|. All values were within the cut-off value of 2.58 at the .01 level, indicating multivariate normality among the data. The
highest mean value indicated that the majority (76.7%, M = 2.73, SD = 0.52) of the respondents engaged in web surfing 6 to 7 days a week. Video gaming was
the least frequently performed leisure activity (M = 1.43, SD = 0.67). Significant positive correlation (r = .15) was found between the participants’ age
and the frequency of weightlifting, indicating older participants were more likely to engage in weightlifting. Significant positive correlation (r = .18)
was found between the participants’ gender and the frequency of weightlifting, indicating male participants were more likely to engage in weightlifting. Gender
was also positively and significantly correlated with video gaming (r = .39), indicating male participants were more frequently engaging in video gaming.
However, negative significant correlation (r = – .27) was found between gender and the frequency of aerobic exercise, indicating female participants were more
likely to engage in this physical activity. The participants with a higher GPA were less likely to play video games as evidenced by the negative correlation
(r = -.14). In contrast, the participants with higher GPA were more likely to choose aerobic exercise (r = .20). Interestingly, the participants who spent
more time weightlifting engaged in both video gaming and aerobic exercises more frequently than who spent less (in minutes for both activities; r = .17 and
.19, respectively). The data from the study suggest more effective interventions should be implemented to promote PA among university students.

Introduction

It is hard to imagine life without the wide variety of multimedia devices that have become so commonplace over the last few decades. This technology has become essential in almost every educational, business, community, and recreational environment. Access to electronic information and communication technology is widely available to both high school and college-aged youth students, and mastering elevant information technology is one key to success in adult life. Unfortunately, this new technology phenomenon may be having a negative impact on physical activity patterns in an increasingly sedentary population (27). According to the United States Department of Health and Human Service Healthy People 2010 report, only 22% of adults engage in moderate physical activity for 30 minutes five or more times a week and nearly 25% of the population is completely sedentary (39). In addition, only about 25% of young people (ages 12-21) participate in light to moderate activity nearly every day (36). Lack of physical activity continues to contribute to the high prevalence of overweight individuals and obesity within the United States.

Obesity and lack of physical activity (PA) have been linked to numerous medical complications and cognitive decline (22). Regular participation in PA is important to sustaining good health and has been a topic of thorough investigation since the acknowledgement of the obesity epidemic with the last 30 years (36, 37). PA promotion has been an active mission of health advocacy groups during the last three decades (3, 9, 38) as physical inactivity has become more prevalent in all age groups and is believed to be one of the leading factors contributing to the rise of obesity and associated health problems. As a result, public health groups have increasingly called for actively promoting PA in multiple levels of society including family, school, local community, and state (38). Because of the gravity of the current state of fitness and obesity, participation in PA is of great importance to universities in encouraging healthy and active lifestyles.

Physical inactivity tends to increase during the aging process with the most dramatic increase occurring in late adolescence and early adulthood. Recently, university students have demonstrated the propensity for being physically inactive (17, 21). Research has indicated that about one to two thirds of university students have not engaged in sufficient PA to accrue health benefits (7, 8, 12, 17, 21, 32). Moreover, it seems very difficult to significantly increase PA among university students (17, 18). This contention is supported by the consistent percentage of physically inactive university students (17), in spite of years of issuing calls for promoting PA on campus by the American College Health Association (3) and efforts to increase PA through new facilities and programming. As suggested by Gyurcsik, Bray & Brittain (15) and Keating et al. (17), university students remain a targeted population for more PA interventions.

The examination and identification of trends in PA among younger adults remain under-represented in the literature. In order to effectively promote PA, there is a need to fully understand university student PA patterns because they represent a unique young adult group learning to live independently for the first time in their lives while simultaneously working to attain a baccalaureate degree (5, 18). This is a particularly important inquiry given that prior studies have shown that 60% of college students do not on average accumulate the recommended amount of physical activity for an adult and are unaware that adults should exercise five days a week for 30 minutes at moderate intensities (21) in order to achieve maximum health benefits. In addition, university life includes activities that may potentially encourage unhealthy behaviors. For example, university students typically have a busy schedule with their academic, extracurricular activities, work and social lives, which is a primary contributing factor relating to the decline of PA, and additionally creates great stress for meeting high academic standards, which in turn can create various psychological complications (40). Recent research, however, has demonstrated positive acute and chronic effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive performance (6). Therefore, assessing participation in PA and understanding types of student deficits can play a critical role in helping university students maintain both physical and mental health.

A handful of research on PA patterns of university students has been reported in the literature. Besides the previously noted consistent finding that students did not engage in a sufficient amount of PA (12, 15, 32), Behrens and Dinger (5) reported that university students were more active during weekdays than weekend days and there was no significant difference in PA patterns among the sexes. Furthermore, Keating and colleagues (17) found that university students did not change their PA levels as years in the university increased. Regarding university student PA determinants, similar to what has been reported for K-12 students; age, sex, and ethnicity are also found to be PA determinants for students in higher education (12, 17, 21). In comparison to K-12 students, weekly working hours, having a family, dating, living independently, hectic social schedule, proximity to PA facilities, and academic pressure, have not been investigated thoroughly.

Many young adults on college campuses are not meeting current physical activity recommendations and therefore may not be performing beneficial activities like aerobic exercise and resistance training. While some research exists that investigates PA patterns among university students, many unanswered questions still exist. To date, very few reliable instruments exist to quickly assess the leisure activity and physical activity patterns of young, college-aged adults. The IPAQ (International Physical Activity Questionnaire) is one instrument that has been validated (11) for use with this population, but the long version of the instrument is complicated and arduous to use in a collegiate setting. This may partially explain the paucity of research in this area. For example, it still remains unanswered what types of PA university students engage in and whether changes occur with PA patterns during the duration of enrollment in a university. As suggested by Rhodes and colleagues (28), professionals in the fields of fitness, health education, and physical education have not paid great attention to specific characteristics of student PA such as frequency, intensity, duration, and PA types. This lack of information inventory hinders efforts for promoting PA on college campuses as different types of PA generate different health benefits. This PA data could provide guidance for the development of various meaningful programming interventions to better influence university students regarding PA. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine PA patterns among students at a public university from a Midwestern state.

Method

A survey was conducted in order to assess the leisure and physical activity patterns within a “sport-minded” young adult demographic group. Among those surveyed were college students from one university in the Midwest United States. Surveyed students majored in sport management, exercise science, or sport pedagogy. All subjects were surveyed during a single fall semester. The survey instrument was composed of six demographic elements and five research-related questions, and was modeled upon a previously developed and tested instrument. This current survey was modified from the original instrument to reflect changes to the demographic elements and the addition of scaled questions related to physical activity patterns and computer use. The modified questionnaire demonstrated both criterion reference reliability (maximum aerobic capacity, handgrip dynamometry) and test-rest reliability. The demographic components included: major, age, ethnicity, gender, grade point average, and year in school. Both the survey and the research protocol were reviewed and approved by the appropriate university Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Human subject approval was granted by the university in which the study was conducted before any data were collected. Undergraduate students (n = 253) from nine classes at a Midwest public university participated in the study in the fall semester of 2010. Of the 975 students representing the total population, 253 questionnaires were returned (25.9 % return rate) and represent the subject pool for this study. The majority of the participants were male (67.2%) and juniors (47%) and seniors (47.8%) in college. The mean age was 20.55 (SD = 3.07). The majority of the participants were Caucasian (90%); the other participant ethnicities were as follows: African American (6%), Hispanic American (2%), Asian (1%) and other (1%). A relatively small number of freshman and sophomores
participated in the study. While the response rate is relatively low by traditional standards, a review of institution departmental data suggests the sample is representative of student demographics. Refer to Table 1 for detailed demographic information.

Table 1
Participants’ Demographic Information

Variables Mean (SD) Frequency (%)
Age 20.55 (3.07)
Sex
Female 32.8%
Male 67.2%
Year in college
1st year 1.2%
2nd year 3.2%
3rd year 47.0%
4th year 47.8%

Campus characteristics
The study was conducted at a Midwest university with approximately 20,000 enrolledstudents. Like most medium/large sized state universities in the United States, buses operate around the inner and outer edges of campus and into the community regularly. Courses are scheduled back-to-back with minimal break-time in between, resulting in limited time to engage in PA between classes. One large studentrecreational center and a number of outdoor exercise facilities (i.e., jogging trails, basketball courts, tennis courts, and etc.) are available for students. In addition, the university has an NCAA Division I athletic department, which consists of regionally well-known football, basketball, and volleyball sports teams. Regularly scheduled home games are held on campus on a weekly basis. Physical fitness and wellness activity (PFWL) course credits are included in the general education core requirements, and selected PA courses are available for electives within the university.

Leisure and Physical Activity Survey
The Leisure and Physical Activity survey was designed to be a quick and easy assessment of sedentary and physical activity frequency and duration in college-aged students. This self-reported survey instrument asked for class rank, gender, and grade point average. Grade point average was assessed via five predetermined ranges of answers (0-0.99, 1-1.99, 2-2.99, 3-3.99, 4.0 or above). The sedentary activity types assessed were time spent in typing/schoolwork, web surfing/entertainment, and video gaming. Each classification had further descriptors for clarification: web surfing/entertainment included (television, Facebook, MySpace, etc.), video gaming included (Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation, etc.). These activities were assessed for frequency (0-2 days, 3-5 days, and 6-7days) per week as well as duration per bout (0-15 minutes, 16-30 minutes, greater than 30 minutes). Each frequency and duration was assigned a score of 1 to 3 points for each of the possible responses. Aerobic exercise (running, walking, biking, aerobic dance, etc.) and weightlifting (machine, free weights, cross fit, etc.) were assessed in a similar fashion for frequency and duration.

Total scores for each item assessed were computed as the sum of the frequency and duration scores. This instrument demonstrated low item to total correlations (r < .20), suggesting that items assessed were not overlapping. In pilot testing, the weightlifting total score demonstrated a significant correlation (r > .80, p < .05, n = 58) to the criterion measure hand-grip strength assessed via a hand grip dynamometer (Jamar Hand Dynamometer, Sammons Prestons Bolingbrook, IL). Similar results were found for the aerobic total score and VO2 max (r > .60, p < .05, n = 12) assessed via a graded exercise test utilizing a modern metabolic cart (Parvomedics TrueOne 2400, Parvomedics, Sandy, UT). Both the weightlifting and aerobic total scores were not significantly
different pre to post in a large sample test-retest reliability study (n = 389, p > .05) that examined the stability of the survey after a one month time period.

Data Analyses
Descriptive statistics and nonparametric correlation analysis were used to examine the relationship between five leisure and physical activities (i.e., typing/schoolwork on computer, web surfing/entertainment, weightlifting, video gaming, and aerobic exercise) and four independent factors (i.e., age, gender, year in school, and GPA). Violation of assumptions was checked prior to data analyses by examining both skewness and kurtosis values. Data were analyzed via PASW Statistics 18.0.

Results

A total of 253 subjects submitted complete and fully useable surveys, and all subjects indicated that their primary state of residence was Indiana in the United States. Skewness and kurtosis values ranged from |.022| to |1.794| and |.311| to |2.374|. All values were within the cut-off value of 2.58 at the .01 level, indicating multivariate normality among the data. The highest mean value indicated that the majority (76.7%, M = 2.73, SD = .52) of the respondents engaged in web surfing 6 to 7 days a week (television, Facebook, MySpace, etc.). Video gaming was the least frequently performed leisure activity (M = 1.43, SD = .67). The majority (66.8%) of the participants indicated that they engaged in video gaming zero to two days per week.

Table 2
Descriptive Statistics

Activity M SD
Typing/Schoolwork on Computer Frequency Frequency 1.9486 .61183
Duration 2.4980 .55366
Web surfing/Entertainment Frequency 2.7312 .51840
Duration 2.6008 .59987
Weightlifting Frequency 1.6759 .62812
(machine, free-weight, crossfit, etc.) Duration 2.4348 .78723
Video gaming Frequency Frequency 1.4325 .67350
(Xbox, Xbox360, PlayStation, etc.) Duration 1.8498 .87807
Aerobic exercise Frequency Frequency 1.8498 .69091
Duration 2.3834 .67791

Correlational analyses revealed several significant findings. Significant positive correlation (r = .15) was found between the participants’ age and the frequency of weightlifting, indicating older participants were more likely to engage in weightlifting. Significant positive correlation (r = .18) was found between the participants’ gender and the frequency of weightlifting, indicating male participants were more likely to engage in weightlifting. Gender was also positively and significantly correlated with video gaming (r = .39), indicating male participants were more frequently engaging in video gaming. However, a negative significant correlation (r = – .27) was found between gender and the frequency of aerobic exercise, indicating female participants were more likely to engage in this physical activity. The participants with a higher GPA were less likely to play video games as evidenced by the negative correlation (r = -.14). In contrast, the participants with higher GPA were more likely to choose to participate in aerobic exercise (r = .20). Interestingly, the participants who spent more minutes on weightlifting engaged in both video gaming and aerobic exercises more frequently than who spent less (in minutes for both activities;
r = .17 and .19, respectively).

Table 3
Correlation Table

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
1. Age 1
2. Sex .15* 1
3. GPA -.02 -.19** 1
4. CP(F) .07 -.05 -.01 1
5. CP(D) -.07 -.09 .05 .21** 1
6. WS(F) -.01 -.05 .04 .31** -.07 1
7. WS(D) -.12 -.04 -.08 .16* .15* .43** 1
8. WL(F) .15* .18** .10 -.12 .04 -.12 -.12* 1
9. WL(D) .05 .29** .01 -.11 .04 -.12 -.08 .61** 1
10. VG (F) -.01 .39** -.14* -.06 -.03 .11 .10 .03 .10 1
11. VG (D) .05 .53** -.12 -.04 .02 .09 .09 .16* .17** .67** 1
12. AE (F) .04 -.27** .20** .05 .11 .08 .08 .07 -.03 -.13* -.12 1
13. AE (D) -.05 -.16** .14* .02 .13* .01 .14* .10 .19** -.08 -.04 .48** 1

Note. CP = typing/schoolwork on computer, WS = web surfing/entertainment, WL = weightlifting, VG = video gaming, AE = aerobic exercise. F indicates frequency, and D indicates duration. Correlation is significant at the .05 level (*) and the .01 level (**).

Mean scores (response range 1 to 3) for weightlifting frequency and duration by grade point average are represented in figure 1. The mean response to grade point average and duration of weightlifting demonstrated that the majority of student’s reported GPA’s in the range 1-1.99 had the highest duration (2.75 hours) of weightlifting per week, with the second highest duration (2.50 hours) per week response being 4.00. The mean response to grade point average and frequency of weightlifting demonstrated that the majority of student’s reported grade point averages in the range 3-3.99 had the highest frequency (1.74) days per week of weightlifting, with the second highest frequency per week response being in the GPA range of 1-1.99.

Mean scores (response range 1 to 3) for aerobic exercise frequency and duration by grade point average are represented in figure 2. The mean response to grade point average and duration of aerobic exercise demonstrated that the majority of student’s reported GPA’s in the range 1-1.99 had the highest duration (2.87 hours) of aerobic exercise per week, with the second highest duration (2.50 hours) per week response being 4.00. The mean response to grade point average and frequency of aerobic exercise demonstrated that the majority of student’s reported grade point averages in the range 3-3.99 and 4.00 had the highest frequency (2.00) days per week of aerobic exercise, with the second highest frequency (1.87) days per week response being in the GPA range of 1-1.99.

Discussion

There is a dearth of scholarly information explaining PA in college students as the trends in physical activity among younger adults remain under-represented in the literature. Given the large number of students enrolled in universities and colleges across the United States, an understanding of the relationship between computer use, PA and academic performance is of great interest. The following results warrant more attention from professionals in the fields of health education, fitness, and physical education. First, the highest mean value indicated that the majority (76.7%) of the respondents engaged in computer world wide web surfing six to seven days a week. While time spent on the Internet can be extremely productive, for some college students’ compulsive Internet use can and may interfere with daily life including grades, work, relationships, and PA. Second, since a large number of participants engaged in PA, higher than in more recent similar studies, it appears that an increasing trend in PA among students may be occurring. Given the number of universities across the country that have or are in the process of building large student recreation centers it is possible the increase in PA among university students is explained by the recent facility “arms race” occurring on many university campuses (41). Third, the data gathered demonstrated that the majority of student’s reported grade point averages in the range 3-3.99 which may indicate a positive correlation between frequency and duration of PA and academic performance. This finding
may be attributed to physiological and psychological factors. Research has demonstrated positive acute and chronic effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive performance (6). Students with higher academic achievement may have more intrinsic motivation to study and work harder which results in higher grades. However, this same intrinsic motivation may be responsible for the higher levels of PA in this population (4). Student’s reported grade point averages in the range 1-1.99 reported the second highest PA frequency per week in resistance and aerobic training. As opposed to the higher GPA students, students with lower academic achievement may exhibit higher rates of PA because they are not as focused on academic work and spend a larger amount of time on non-academic endeavors. Since above average or “middle” GPA students reported the lowest level of PA on the survey instrument, it seems plausible that this population may require additional strategies and resources for PA recruitment and Retention. Fourth, age and gender were also found to be important variables predicting resistance training patterns as older males were more likely to be involved in resistance training and females were more likely to engage in aerobic training. These results could be related to group exercise offerings like aerobic classes that are commonly heavily attended by female students. There may be a societal need for women to perform group activities (21) as women may be less likely than men to work out alone. Regardless of PA type, higher achieving students appear to have higher physical activity levels.

The Benefits of Physical Activity
Today’s college students have more personal choices than ever regarding ways to spend their leisure time, and with limited bandwidth, the choice to participate in physical activity typically requires either intrinsic or physical incentives of some type. So would students engage in more physical activity if they believed it would enhance their academic performance? Evidence supporting the association between PA and enhanced academic performance is strengthened by related research that found higher levels of physical fitness to be linked with improved academic performance among children and teens. There are several possible mechanisms by which physical education and regular PA could improve academic achievement, including enhanced concentration skills and classroom behavior. Stevens et al. (33) reported that physical activity was associated with higher achievement scores in both mathematics and reading. Though in these investigations physical activity was only one of many correlates to academic performance, increased levels of physical activity garnered through team sport or increased activity outside of physical education courses was related to academic performance. Tomporowski et al. (35) in a recent review of the findings in children suggested that exercise might enhance children’s mental functioning. The present investigation builds upon the evidence of a relationship between physical activity and exercise to academic performance by demonstrating similar findings among Midwestern university students. Fox et al. (13) reported that among a large cohort of middle and high school students, participation in team sports was associated with higher GPA’s. Laure and Binsinger (19) reported a similar finding in a large cohort of French students. It should be noted that a previous study conducted in Kuwait (2) reported no relationship between results of a health promoting lifestyle, which included assessment of reported physical activity and academic performance. However; this study examined a smaller sample of students (n = 224) and the students were all nursing majors. The limited sample size and relative similarity of population may be in part responsible for this finding. The present investigation included a slightly larger sample (n = 253) and the students were drawn from several different fields of study within the school of physical education, sport, and exercise science. Yet even though the relationships are small, academic achievement is critical for nearly all college students. Therefore, any demonstrated relationship to academic performance is an important finding.
Demographic Differences in Physical Activity Patterns
It is important to analyze the various elements that contribute to the difference in physical activity patterns in college students. Although the correlations in the present study are small in magnitude, it has been demonstrated that there are many other factors that are related to academic performance such as socioeconomic status (33). Sex and ethnicity disparity in PA has been well documented and there is a need to bridge the gap in the two variables (17, 21). The study, however, noted that the PA discrepancy of sex and ethnicity still exists. Specifically, the results of the study align with the finding that females were found to perform significantly less PA than their male counterparts (14, 21). Joining with other studies on the topic (18, 20), this study echoes the need for more attention on female student PA. Moreover, there was a significant difference in PA events participated by females, indicating the selection of PA events is gender sensitive. PA interventions should take into consideration the PA preferences of the different genders and provide male and female students with the appropriate opportunities for PA that they prefer.

Regarding ethnicity, previous studies have generated a consistent finding that whites tend to engage in more PA than other ethnic groups and African Americans and Asians are the least physically active groups (18, 21, 34). Unfortunately, no data are available to explain why Asians and African Americans are less active than Whites and Latinos. The lack of diversity and the small sample size of the subject population in the present study do not allow for findings based on ethnicity.

Increasing Physical Activity Patterns
The benefits of physical activity are well known and accepted. Providing PA information that will motivate and enable people to change behavior and to maintain that change over time is the key. Public health groups have made a number of attempts to increase PA in higher education for more than a decade (3, 37). Considerable research has been conducted in the area of exercise behavior change and the majority of recent reports suggest that exercisers progress through a set of identifiable stages before reaching the maintenance stage when they have integrated exercise as part of their lives (25, 26). It is encouraging that the percentage of students who were involved in an adequate amount of PA was higher than the percentage reported in most previous studies (17, 18, 21). Universities serve as an excellent venue to provide college students with the opportunity for daily PA. The student recreation center (SRC) at many colleges and universities has evolved from being a place to exercise and take aerobics classes to becoming a high-powered recruitment tool (27). A survey of collegiate recreation providers indicated that fitness centers are flourishing and that accommodating user demand is one of the biggest challenges facing supervisors
(24).

The present investigation helps to fill a gap in the literature by expanding previous findings among elementary, middle, and high school students in regard to the associations of physical activity and academic performance into the collegiate level. Information concerning the most frequently engaged PA can be used to guide the reform of physical education curricula in K-12 and college programs (10, 29) as one of the ultimate physical education goals is to promote PA participation as a long term healthy lifestyle (23). Unfortunately, there were not data available to explain what interventions had been implemented on campus to promote and enhance PA among the students. Since this additional research confirms the high level of interest in exercise adherence services in the current study, recreation staff and sport administrators may want to consider supporting the development of standardized assessment and adherence services to increase the likelihood of students maintaining healthy, active lifestyles while in college. The study reiterates the need for a strong emphasis on lifetime PA as suggested by Corbin (10). On the other hand, because universities are still a part of the entire education system, the unique characteristics of university students must be considered (17). University student PA patterns might be different from other young adults who are not in higher education. Surprisingly, participants in the present study demonstrated the similar PA patterns to other young adults involved in most individual PA (aerobic and resistance training).

Limitations
As might be expected, university students tend to participate in a wide variety of PA. One limitation of the present study is the focus on two primary areas of PA (aerobic and resistance training). Research has indicated that PA enjoyment and the social aspect of recreational activities are two of the primary factors that attract young adults to involvement in sports-related PA (4, 28). This topic was beyond the scope of the present study and is an area for future investigation. Further, self-reported questionnaires, sample size and limited comparable data combined with the secrecy that surrounds personal practice creates difficulty in assessing result reliability (1). Empirical data have demonstrated that participants have the propensity to over-report their PA (21) and as a result, the data collected in the study are most likely skewed toward the highest level of PA (16). Some experts suppose that these attitudes may be the consequence of social desirability. That is, the participants are reporting what they think a health professional or professor might want to hear rather than their true leisure and physical activity patterns. Survey research investigating an individual practice sometimes has limitations including: answers may be intentionally false as the subjects questioned may not wish to reveal their true feelings, even if anonymity and confidentiality are guaranteed by the investigators (1). Thus, these results should be interpreted with caution.
Conclusion

Lack of PA continues to contribute to the high prevalence of overweight individuals and obesity within the United States. Based upon the results of the present investigation, it can be suggested that colleges focus on the provision of aerobic exercise for students, through either outdoor or indoor recreational facilities. Given the number of universities across the country that are currently building or have previously built large recreation facilities for students, it can be suggested that these centers are constructed and staffed in such a manner as to encourage aerobic exercise. While these results are promising, the data do not account for the long-term maintenance of physically active lifestyles.

Applications in Sport

There is an ongoing need to foster PA opportunities across all the disciplines of physical education, recreation, dance, and sport. Recreation and sport administrators must not only be aware of national trends, such as the fact that 67% of non-institutionalized adults age 20 years and over are overweight or obese in the United States (9), but university administrators should diligently examine their facility needs and accompanying programming. The importance of PA within the college-aged student population is well established and a renewed focus among recreation and sport administrators is not only justified but necessary. The reality: most college students do not complete the recommended amount of PA each week. In an effort to increase PA among this population, sport administrators should leverage existing physical activity space, encourage enhancements where necessary and promote physical activity. Access to PA facilities is the first step to achieving higher exercise rates among students. Collegate sport/recreation administrators must be ready to evaluate their facilities based on the needs of the student population and properly follow through with appropriate accomodations. Recreation and sport administrators should also encourage aerobic exercise by building programs around the types of physical activity college students want and need. Physical education programs are important tools for those college students who want to be physically active but are unsure of how to do so. Physical education classes offer opportunities for students to learn about different PA choices and encourage adoption of those activities in their everyday life. Continued implementation of PA programming on university campuses benefits the students, faculty, university, and community. Recreational facilities and PA programs create value-added products that deserve an expanded focus within the university.

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