Student-Athletes’ Perceptions About Abuse by NCAA Division II Tennis Coaches


Male and female NCAA Division II tennis players (southern region) were surveyed about their encounters with coaches’ abusive behavior, to see whether perceptions differed significantly by gender. The researcher discusses whether athletic departments should develop policies and procedures to educate all persons affiliated with them about abusive behavior and whether they should furthermore prosecute coaches who sexually harass or emotionally abuse student-athletes.

The survey instrument was adapted from instruments used in three earlier studies. It was used by the players to rank 20 perceived abusive behaviors. The survey was developed from a review of literature, an expert panel, and a pilot study using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient to gauge validity and internal consistency reliability. The survey was administered on-site to 140 student-athletes participating in NCAA-II’s southern region tennis tournament. All 140 student-athletes returned a completed survey to the researcher. A total of 134 surveys had been completed correctly and were utilized in the study (a 95.7% response rate).

Statistical analysis includes descriptive statistics analyzing ranking of severity of behaviors, along with factor analysis identifying behaviors that led to abusive situations. Frequencies, percentages, means, mean rankings, and standard deviations were the descriptive statistics utilized; the method of factor extraction used was the principal component method, with varimax rotation. Factor analysis investigated areas within perceived abusive behaviors, seeking clusters demonstrating a good degree of correlation.

Student-Athletes’ Perceptions About Abuse by NCAA Division II Tennis Coaches

The question of sexual harassment in university settings has received very little attention over the years. This research study was designed to provide insight into sexual harassment and emotional abuse in American university athletic programs, through an examination of student-athletes’ perceptions of a number of ambiguous behaviors. The study furthermore sought an understanding of the meanings student-athletes assign to sexually harassing behaviors exhibited by their coaches and was meant to contribute to the literature on sexual harassment. In addition, the study sought student-athletes’ views on the atmosphere within university athletic programs.

American athletic departments belong to the community mainstream, but they have developed their own relationships to such an extent that they function independently of the educational community. This fact does not diminish an athletic department’s legal and moral obligation to provide all student-athletes with an environment free from sexual harassment, nor does it take from student-athletes or athletic department employees the right to use community resources to resolve sexual harassment issues.

Subjects and Instrument

Male and female student-athletes from 14 NCAA Division II (southern region) tennis programs were the randomly selected study participants, numbering 140 in all, each team having roughly 10 players. All tennis players were given the opportunity to participate or not participate in the study; participation was strictly voluntary. The athletes who participated in the study were playing in the regional tournament for their university.

On-site face-to-face surveys were used to collect data from participants. The survey instrument, based on three earlier instruments, was adapted specifically for the male and the female student-athletes. They were asked to express their perceptions about various coach behaviors, using a 5-point Likert scale. Responses ranged from 1 (extremely inappropriate) to 5 (extremely appropriate). Preparation of the instrument had included testing by a panel of experts, who reviewed the questions and established the validity of the instrument. The procedure for reliability testing included Cronbach’s alpha reliability coefficient, confirming the internal consistency and reliability of the scores reported for the pilot study respondents on survey items covering coaches’ perceived competency and harassing behavior. Reliability was interpreted as a correlation coefficient utilizing Cronbach’s scale.

Statistical Analysis

The research design pinpointing the student-athletes’ perceptions comprised (a) order of the ranking of perceived coaching behaviors, (b) results of factor analysis determining the severity of perceived behaviors, and (c) investigation of existing literature. Descriptive statistics (frequencies, percentages, means, mean rankings, standard deviations) were used in analyzing rankings of perceived coaching behaviors. The factor analysis employed was the principal component method, with varimax rotation; it investigated the integration of two or more independent variables on a single dependent variable. Areas within the coaching behavior selection were identified for inclusion within clusters demonstrating a high degree of correlation. Factor analysis furthermore identified underlying variables or factors explaining the pattern of correlations within a set of observed variables and was used in data reduction to identify a small number of factors explaining the variance observed in a larger number of manifest variables. Examination of the scree plots supported the extraction of four factors with an eigenvalue greater than 1.0. Cluster titles were assigned to each factor.


Demographic information obtained from the respondents included gender (of player and head coach), race, age, academic classification, scholarship status, and position currently played on team. Demographic data was anticipated to affect perceptions concerning the severity of coaches’ behaviors, but this paper concerns itself with only one of the demographic variables, gender. Table 1 and Table 2 illustrate the total mean ranges, by gender, for the perceived coaching behaviors. Mean values were obtained for each of the 20 coaching behavior items. Among the male respondents, mean values ranged from an inappropriate high of 4.77 (for Item 20, “sexual favors could result in increased scholarship money or rank on the team”) to an appropriate low of 2.53 (for Item 6, “closed door meeting with a player”). Among female respondents, mean values ranged from an inappropriate high of 4.85 (for Item 20, “sexual favors could result in increased scholarship money or rank on the team”) to an appropriate low of 2.36 (for Item 13, “congratulatory hug after the completion of a match”).

Table 1

Male Respondents: Mean Range and Frequency for Survey Items

Mean Range Survey Item Number Frequency
> 4.500 9, 11, 17, 19, 20
4.000 – 4.499 16, 18
3.500 – 3.999 1, 2, 7, 12, 15
3.000 – 3.499 4, 5, 8, 10, 14
2.500 – 2.999 3, 6, 13
2.000 – 2.499 N/A
< 1.999 N/A

Table 2

Female Respondents: Mean Range and Frequency for Survey Items

Mean Range Survey Item Number Frequency
> 4.500 9, 11, 17, 19, 20
4.000 – 4.499 1, 2, 15, 16, 18
3.500 – 3.999 4, 5, 12, 14
3.000 – 3.499 3, 7, 8
2.500 – 2.999 6, 10
2.000 – 2.499 13
< 1.999 N/A

The top five perceived coaching behaviors considered most inappropriate for males (listed in rank order) are (a) implied sexual favors could result in increased scholarship money or rank on the team (Item 20), (b) coach’s use of pet names (Item 9), (c) coach solicits player in a personal manner (Item 17), (d) coach initiates contact with player by allowing player to sit on lap (Item 19), and (e) coach puts hands on player’s buttocks while giving tennis instruction (Item 11).

The top five perceived coaching behaviors considered most appropriate for males (listed in rank order) are (a) coach closes the door when meeting with a player (Item 6), (b) coach invites a player out to dinner in a public setting (Item 3), (c) coach gives congratulatory hug to a player after the match (Item 13), (d) coach compliments player on appearance (Item 8), and (e) coach touches player’s arm when giving tennis instruction (Item 10).

Factor analysis was employed to determine the perceived abusive behaviors and specific factors necessary for the implementation of policies and procedures. The factor extraction method comprised use of principal axis factoring and varimax rotation with Kaiser normalization, in order to analyze interrelationships and pattern correlations between observed variables and the perceived behavior items. This resulted in a four-factor solution. Examining the scree plots supported extracting the four factors (eigenvalues greater than 1.0).

The rotated four-factor solution accounted for 66.05% of the variance in respondents’ perceptions about coaches’ ambiguous behaviors. Cluster titles were assigned to each factor so that they could be grouped by degree of severity. To determine factor reliability, the internal consistency of each factor was assessed by computing Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. All four subscales indicated a good level of internal consistency, with coefficients greater than .85.

Four categories with 66% of the total variation for the perceived coaching behaviors were identified through factor analysis. Cluster titles were assigned to each of the four group items.

Table 3

Categorization of Behaviors

Category 1
Item 4
Item 1
Item 2
Item 5
Item 3
Invitation to coach’s house for tactical discussion
Invitation to lunch
Invitation for a drink after training session
Invitation for coffee in a non-public setting
Invitation to dinner in a public setting


Category 2
Item 13
Item 10
Item 7
Item 14
Item 11
Invasion of personal space
Coach gives congratulatory hug
Coach touches arm while giving tennis instruction
Coach sits or stands close when talking with a player
Coach gives a playful shoulder massage or backrub
Coach places hands on player’s buttocks


Category 3
Item 8
Item 9
Item 17
Personal compliments
Coach compliments appearance
Coach uses pet names
Coach solicits in a personal manner


Category 4
Item 18
Item 6
Item 19
Item 20
Inappropriate contact
Coach instigates frequent nightly telephone contact
Coach closes the door when meeting with an athlete
Coach initiates contact of player sitting on his/her lap
Coach implies that sexual favors could result in promotion


Item 16
Item 15
Item 12
Did not load
Coach attempts to rape a player
Coach attempts aggressive physical contact
Coach uses profanity when giving instruction


The study findings did not align with prior research results or with the researcher’s expectations. The surveyed university tennis players surprisingly rated the 20 behaviors as appropriate. Explanations for why athletes in this study perceived certain behaviors as appropriate could include the power coaches have over athletes to make decisions for them, or perhaps naiveté among athletes about the abuse potential in the coach-athlete relationship: athletes’ innocence regarding a coach’s power and presence in their lives. Moreover, coaches may be unaware of their power over athletes through implications of their language, jokes, and even their physical presence.

Earlier studies provided evidence of an alarming rise in sexual harassment and emotional abuse in universities and colleges. From these studies, it seems that student-athletes’ perceptions about possibly abusive coach behavior differ with the gender of the athlete, the gender and intentions of the coach, the severity and frequency of inappropriate behavior, judgment of the involvement of the victim, the status of the supervisory role, and personal experience.

Few American athletic departments work to educate either coaches or students about sexual harrassment or emotional abuse, although information about the phenomena can prevent misunderstanding and conflict between coaches and athletes. It is thus not surprising that many of the athletes surveyed for the present study seemed to miss the questionable implications of a coach’s inviting a player for drinks and even the extreme inappropriateness of a coach’s aggressively pursuing physical contact or even attempting to rape a player. Sexual harassment in the university community deserves our attention. To protect student-athletes specifically, it is essential that athletic departments implement antiharrassment and antiabuse policies and procedures. As the body of research on sexual harassment in the sport domain grows, there is hope that these can be instituted nationwide. Then, they must be evaluated and monitored by individuals outside the university setting.

Sexual harassment undermines the mission of sports, which is to improve the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of all participants. Harassment has debilitating consequences for its victims, and it is also potentially damaging to institutions. Failing to acknowledge that athletic departments are home to both harassment and emotional abuse puts universities and colleges in line for more and more lawsuits, which will be extremely costly and harmful to an institution’s reputation.


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Author Note

Vicky-Lynn Martin, D.S.M.

Volunteerism and Multiculturalism: A Linkage for Future Olympics


Olympic volunteerism is a relatively new topic in the Olympic Movement and in research. It was not until the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics that an Olympic volunteer movement commenced. To date, the Olympic Movement has not established a policy concerning volunteerism and multiculturalism. None of the 18 main commissions of the International Olympic Committee has a primary mandate for volunteerism and multiculturalism; responsibility for recruiting and training volunteers falls to the national Olympic committees. Reflecting upon the experiences of Canada’s multiculturalism policy, this paper examines the linkage between volunteerism and multiculturalism in the Olympic Movement and develops a policy on volunteerism and multiculturalism for that movement. The policy emphasizes (a) equal recognition of all volunteers, (b) equal opportunity for personal growth through the volunteer experience, (c) provision of all volunteers with opportunity to experience the Olympic spirit, (d) cultural exchange and interchange among volunteers, and (e) a “common cultural environment.”  The researcher concludes that the outlined policy should be implemented by one of the IOC main commissions (perhaps the Commission for Culture and Olympic Education) and/or in the Olympic Charter.

Volunteerism and Multiculturalism: A Linkage for Future Olympics

The volunteer sector, traditionally known as society’s third sector, has rapidly grown since the 1970s (Hall & Banting, 2000; Scott, 1997). This trend has occurred in most western nations that have witnessed downsizing of public sector services, fiscal restraints on public resources, and increase in reliance on volunteers to serve the growing needs of society. This trend has also spilled over into the commercial sector as many corporations, businesses, and enterprises have looked to reduce costs by accepting the assistance of volunteers. Moreover, major national and international sporting events such as the Francophone Games in Canada and the Summer and Winter Olympic Games depend on volunteers more today than in the past to provide needed services to athletes, officials, spectators, and others involved with these events (Larocque, Gravelle, & Karlis, 2002).

Regardless of the type of volunteer service or environment, volunteers are made up of different people, from different backgrounds, having many different cultures (Arai, 2000–2001, 2002; Minshall, 1984). When these people come together as volunteers to provide a common service under a “common roof” to an organization or an event such as the Olympics, they not only have to abide by standards and regulations of the host country’s national Olympic committee, they also have to learn to appreciate and work with each other, despite cultural differences. Indeed, Olympic volunteers are called upon to “work with so many cultures at a time and look as if they were one” (Pellico, 1999, p. 1). As each volunteer is accustomed to a different way of life, it may be difficult for them to interact in a socially cohesive fashion (Karlis, 1998). This is a challenge that each host country’s national Olympic committee and the Olympic Movement must be prepared to contend with.

In November 1999, under the auspices of the Olympic Museum and the International Chair on Olympism, the Conference on Volunteers, Global Society and the Olympic Movement was held in Lausanne, Switzerland. This conference attracted roughly 100 experts representing nongovernmental organizations, national and international associations for volunteers, national Olympic committees, Olympic organizing committees, national and international sports federations, volunteer leaders, and researchers. The conference concluded by emphasizing that contributions made by volunteers to the Olympic Games are plentiful, extending beyond rendering services to actually enhancing the Games’ social and cultural dimensions.

At a subsequent conference, the World Conference on Olympic and Sport Tourism held in New York in November 2001, Jacques Rogge [president of the International Olympic Committee] proposed that the national Olympic committees set up volunteer corps. Rogge argued that a need for specialized volunteers exists. He went on to state that, “One must draw from culture, local traditions, and the experience acquired by volunteers, to build up volunteerism” (Rogge, 2001–2002, p. 1). Moreover, the New York Declaration put forth at this conference recognized that volunteerism is the foundation of the Olympic Movement; that is, a need exists within the Olympic Movement to promote, develop, and consolidate the culture of volunteerism.

Despite the fact that the results of both of these conferences highlighted culture as an important dimension in volunteerism, a policy on volunteerism and multiculturalism does not exist anywhere in the Olympic Movement. Although host countries’ national organizing committees continuously emphasize culture, cultural awareness, and cultural transmission, there is no policy within the Olympic Movement or Olympic Charter that guides the preparation of volunteers to serve the multicultural fabric of the Olympic Games. Moreover, a commission having the development of volunteers as its primary mandate is not to be found amongst the international Olympic commissions.

Canada is a nation that has a multicultural policy and is regarded by many as a classic example of diverse peoples living and working together in an efficient and effective manner (Karlis & Katakoullis, 1992). The 1988 introduction of its multicultural policy was Canada’s endorsement of equal recognition and equal opportunity for all Canadians (Department of the Secretary of State of Canada, 1987). More specifically, in Canada, multiculturalism policy is used by the government as an administrative tool for enhancing Canadians’ social cohesiveness (their range of ethnicities notwithstanding) and helping to establish a “Canadian” identity for this young society.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the linkage between volunteerism and multiculturalism in terms of the Olympic Movement. It addresses the call made at the conclusion of the 1999 Lausanne conference and 2001 New York conference for increased research on volunteerism at the Olympics. The paper makes a case for the implementation of volunteerism and multiculturalism within the mandate of the Olympic Movement, taking Canada’s multiculturalism policy as an example.

Volunteerism and the Olympic Games

Although it may be argued that volunteerism at the Olympic Games has a rich history, with many athletes, officials, and organizers sharing their time and effort, the concept of the Olympic volunteer is fairly young. The glossary in the official report of the 1992 Barcelona Games offered the first published definition of an Olympic volunteer. This definition states that the Olympic volunteer is “a person who makes an individual, altruistic commitment to collaborate, to the best of his/her abilities[,] in the organization of the Olympic Games, carrying out the tasks assigned to him/her without receiving payments or rewards of any other nature” (Barcelona Olympic Organizing Committee, 1992, p. 381).

Historically, the concept of the Olympic volunteer evolved out of the work of the organizing committee for the Lake Placid Games in 1980. During these Games, a volunteer program was created that  focused on preparing and training approximately 6,000 volunteers (Moreno, 1999). Indeed, since 1980 there has been a greater reliance on volunteers to stage each Olympic Games, leading to increased numbers of volunteers and stronger focus on training volunteers on the part of host nations’ organizing committees. The figures in Table 1 demonstrate the growth in the numbers of volunteers at summer and winter Olympic Games.

Table 1

Numbers of Volunteers at Summer and Winter Olympic Games, 1984 to 2004

Summer Games Winter Games
Los Angeles 1984 28,742 Lake Placid 1980 6,703
Seoul 1988 27,221 Sarajevo 1984 10,450
Barcelona 1992 34,548 Calgary 1988 9,498
Atlanta 1996 60,422 Albertville 1992 unavailable
Sydney 2000 47,000 Lillehammer 1994 9,054
Athens 2004 60,000a Nagano 1998 32,579
Salt Lake City 19,000

aEstimated total volunteers for Olympics and Paralympics

Without doubt, volunteerism is an important part of implementing the Olympic Games. As Fok argued (1999), “Volunteers constitute the force that lies behind the Olympic ideal” (p. 2). Volunteers are needed not only to operate services but to assist in management and technical areas, medical support, sport event technical operations, international relations and language areas, and operative and general services (Lanzoni & Lykogianni, 1999). In Athens in 2004, there will be four periods during which volunteers will serve: (a) during “test events” used to test facilities and all operations prior to the Games (2003–04), (b) during the preparation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (May–August 2004), (c) during the Olympic Games (13–29 August 2004), and (d) during the Paralympic Games (17–28 September 2004) (International Olympic Committee, n.d.) . The efforts of volunteers allow these Games to operate and indeed to continue to exist. The official website for the Athens Olympics puts it succinctly: “The greatest celebration of humanity is only possible through the will, the passion, the dedication and the professionalism of each volunteer” (International Olympic Committee, n.d.).

It is estimated that in Athens in 2004, 45,000 volunteers will be trained for the Olympics and 15,000 for the Paralympics. The Sydney Olympic Games utilized 47,000 in 2000; the Atlanta Games relied on the efforts of 60,422 volunteers in 1996. To equip so many volunteers to carry out the necessary tasks requires the appropriate management and guidance and also sound training. Training is probably the most important aspect of preparing to volunteer at the Olympics.

Those who volunteer make a commitment of time to the event of roughly 14 days, start to finish. But in addition, they commit time outside the actual Games for training and preparation for their tasks. In some cases there is wrap-up work after the Games. Those who volunteered for the Games in Athens completed the following steps: a personal interview, training, and participation. In past Olympics, the training process has varied slightly from organizing committee to organizing committee, reflecting the unique needs of a host nation and a specific Games. During the Sarajevo Games, for example, training was general and acquainted volunteers with the region’s geography and its social and political history, with special emphasis on the principles of socialism. At the Calgary Olympics, in contrast, a systematic plan specified training for each event location (Moreno, 1999). Nonetheless, for the most part the training of volunteers during past Olympics comprised sessions focusing on Olympic history, hosting techniques, customer services, international relations, cultural awareness, and people skills (Techmeyer, 2002). Thus there are three main “courses” involved in  training volunteers: a culture course, a tasks and functions course, and a practical hands-on course (Moreno, 1999).

More than likely, this will be the case for the Athens Games as well. A volunteer for the Athens 2004 Games will complete a training program related to a specific role (International Olympic Committee, n.d.). The training will consist of  (a) acquaintance with the history of the Ancient and Modern Olympics, (b) introduction to the different sport activities, (c) explanation of the routines of the Games, and (d) awareness of information to be given to athletes, officials, and visitors to the Games.

In preparation for the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, volunteer Britannie Hanson attended five training sessions. The first was a general orientation held in a packed high school auditorium. During orientation, uniforms were displayed and the coming months’ agenda was reviewed; door prizes (microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners) were awarded. At the next volunteer training session, training was more specific and was carried out in groups of 25 to 35 volunteers. The training topics included everything from venue locations to hospitality and international customs (e.g., some cultures consider it rude to point a finger, so volunteers were to learn to give directions without using that gesture) (Foy, 2001). The final three training sessions included one general class and two meetings devoted to learning individual job-specific and venue-specific roles.

As a reward or incentive for volunteering, volunteers receive a number of perks. For example, during the Sydney Olympics in 2000, volunteers were provided with a free uniform and received free meals and refreshments while working. In addition, free transportation on the Olympic network was provided to volunteers on duty, and volunteers received complimentary tickets to an event of the Games.

Moreno (1999) lists three kinds of effects of volunteerism that make it important to the Olympic Movement today and in the future: political effects, economic effects, and cultural effects. From a political perspective, volunteerism represents the coming together of individuals in a particular project, which leads to the expression of public momentum. From an economic perspective, volunteerism represents reduced salary costs and other expenses. From the cultural viewpoint, finally, volunteerism creates enhanced knowledge of solidarity and multiculturalism: an appreciation and respect for all cultures.

The Olympic Movement

The Olympic Movement commenced with the reestablishment of the Olympic Games by Pierre de Coubertin. Since the first modern-day Games, held in Athens in 1896, the Olympic Movement has continued to grow, shaped by Olympism, which is a philosophy based on equality of sports, which are international and democratic. Indeed, it is the goal of the Olympic Movement to assist in building a better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind. The intent of the Olympic Movement, according to a statement on, is to build a spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play (International Olympic Committee, n.d.).

The Olympic Movement is made up of a wide array of organizations, athletes, and other persons who agree to abide by the Olympic Charter and who recognize the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the supreme authority in the Olympic Movement. The 102-page, five-chapter Olympic Charter outlines the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement. Members of the Olympic Movement include individuals, international sport federations, national Olympic committees, judges, referees, and athletes.

The operation of the Olympic Games is a difficult process. To aid in successfully implementing the Games, the IOC has established 18 main commissions, each consisting of experts in a specified domain. The work of these commissions addresses areas the IOC has deemed vital not only to implementing the Games, but to sustaining the Olympic Movement. The Olympic Movement extends beyond sport to the promotion of Olympic ideals through cultural and educational programs. In addition, the Olympic Movement is also concerned with humanitarian aid efforts, environmental efforts, and enhancing the status of women in sport.

Volunteerism, Multiculturalism and the Olympic Movement

A review of the Olympic Charter and of information made available by the Olympic Movement and the main IOC commissions reveals that the issue of volunteerism and multiculturalism has not been highlighted. The relationship of the two appears to receive scant attention in formal documents of the Olympic Movement; no heading in any of the five Olympic Charter chapters alludes to volunteerism. Moreover, a policy on volunteerism and multiculturalism appears not to exist anywhere in Olympic Movement documentation. Despite this omission,  Richard Pound (1999), IOC first vice president, has stated that, “the Olympic Movement is a social phenomenon based, fundamentally, on the activities of volunteers” (p. 1).

And yet none of the 18 IOC main commissions focuses primarily on volunteerism, and the Commission for Culture and Olympic Education alone addresses the issue of cultural diversity, although its mandate does not include a multicultural policy.  The role of the Commission for Culture and Olympic Education is to focus on culture’s relationship to sport  in pursuit of a linkage between sport and culture, advocation of cultural exchange, and promotion of the diversity of cultures. The commission, according to the website,  fulfills its role by organizing international competitions, forums, and special events and by developing educational programs (International Olympic Committee, n.d.).

As Pound’s statement suggests, however, volunteerism and multiculturalism are important concerns in the Olympic Movement. Traditionally, volunteerism has been the responsibility of the host country’s national Olympic committee, which also would address issues of multiculturalism (again, along with the IOC Commission for Culture and Olympic Education). Thus, for the most part the Olympic Movement has addressed volunteerism and multiculturalism distinctly, rather than collectively. For example, leading up to the Athens Games, the National Olympic Committee of Greece is addressing volunteerism through two branches of the organizational structure, volunteer recruitment and volunteer training. Each branch has a manager who reports directly to the general manager of the Volunteers Division.

Multiculturalism in Canadian Society

Canada is a multicultural society. Approximately one third of Canada’s population comprises immigrants and their immediate descendents. In recognition of the cultural mosaic the population represents, the government of Canada enacted the 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act. The act underscores the value Canada places on diversity and highlights the importance of all individuals in the development of the Canadian identity. The act brought about the establishment of a multiculturalism policy, whose main objectives include (a) recognizing the cultural diversity of Canada and that Canadians are free to preserve and share their cultural heritage, affirming that multiculturalism is a fundamental characteristic of Canadian identity; (b) confirming that ethnic origin and background should not limit anyone’s chance to help shape and build Canadian society; (c)  recognizing Canada’s culturally diverse communities and their contributions to Canadian society; (d) promoting equality for all and creating the social conditions that further the goal of equality; (e) recognizing that the social and cultural life of Canada is strengthened by bringing together Canadians of different backgrounds; and (f) recognizing that a multicultural heritage contributes to the richness of Canadian cultural expression.

Moreover, Canada’s multiculturalism policy ensures that Canadians of all origins have an equal opportunity to obtain employment and advancement in those institutions. The policy furthermore promotes programs and practices that enhance the ability of individuals and communities of all origins to contribute to the continuing evolution of Canada, as well as those that enhance understanding of and respect for the diverse members of Canadian society. Through the multicultural policy, an expectation is established that use will be made, as appropriate, of language skills and cultural understanding of individuals of all origins. Finally, the policy calls for conducting activities in a manner that is sensitive and responsive to the multicultural reality of Canada.

Lessons for the Olympic Movement

Most Olympic volunteers come from the host nation (Nakajima, 1999). One important attribute of these volunteers is patriotism, that is, helping to promote the host city and country (Ronningen, 1999). Volunteers must have a sense of national pride, must value cooperation, and must promote the Olympic spirit (Kikou, 2001). As Bontempi (2001) notes, moreover, the ideal Olympic volunteer is able to work with people of all cultural and social backgrounds.

To produce ideal Olympic volunteers is a difficult task. Traditionally, training volunteers has fallen under the auspices of the national Olympic committee of a host nation. Focus has been placed on educating volunteers about ideals of the Olympics and training them in specific skills and tasks for their volunteer positions. Training overall has been case-specific, as no policy has existed within the Olympic Movement for the training of volunteers. While an IOC policy for training volunteers perhaps is not required, since each national Olympic committee best recognizes its own needs and those tasks required to implement its Games. But perhaps an effective policy on volunteerism and multiculturalism could help create a “collective cultural orientation” among volunteers and those who train them.

Canada’s multiculturalism policy is globally renowned as one of the best. It is likely the Olympic Movement could benefit by adapting some part of the policy. The effort might start by recognizing the diverse, pluralistic nature of volunteers, highlighting how multiculturalism can contribute to an “Olympic identity.” Moreover, a policy on volunteerism and multiculturalism would help establish a collective understanding of the cultural importance of volunteerism.

An Olympic policy on volunteerism and multiculturalism should have at its center the following:

  1. equal recognition of all volunteers
  2. equal opportunity for personal growth through the volunteer experience
  3. provision of all volunteers with opportunity to experience the spirit of the Olympics
  4. cultural exchange and interchange among volunteers
  5. a “common cultural environment”

Such a policy would assist nations like Greece, whose National Olympic Committee has actively recruited prospective volunteers from the diaspora, notably Canadians, Australians, and Americans of Greek descent. Because Greece is the smallest nation to host the Olympics, the need to look beyond its borders to secure volunteers has been great. It is possible that, unlike in past Olympics, a large number of volunteers will come from countries other than the host country (Karlis, in press).

Which sector of the Olympic Movement should be responsible to implement the policy on volunteerism and multiculturalism, the national Olympic committees or the Commission for Culture and Olympic Education–or might a new commission be established for volunteerism and multiculturalism? Alternatively, should a volunteerism and multiculturalism policy be integrated within the Olympic Charter?

The national Olympic committees are responsible for the training of volunteers and thus would benefit from a policy on volunteerism and multiculturalism. To make sure all future Olympic Games would operate under the policy, it would be wise to implement it in a central governing body, such as the Commission for Culture and Olympic Education. If the Olympic Movement deems such policy important enough, an IOC commission for volunteerism and multiculturalism might even be established. This would without doubt help to further address growing use of Olympic volunteers. The implementation of policy on volunteerism and multiculturalism within the Olympic Charter would go a step further in creating a solid base for volunteerism throughout the Olympic Movement.


While since the 1980s Olympic volunteers have become increasingly valuable resources for organizing Olympic Games and carrying out their day-to-day functions, the Olympic Movement has only lately begun to recognize the importance of volunteers. Conferences in 1999 and 2001 both called for more research on Olympic volunteerism and multiculturalism, calls supported by the present research. The future of the Olympic Movement largely rests on the efforts of volunteers. A policy on volunteerism and multiculturalism would significantly enhance the volunteer movement of the Olympics, along with larger Olympic aims.


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Author Note

George Karlis, Ph.D.

Gender Differential in the Goal Setting, Motivation, Perceived Ability, and Confidence Sources of Basketball Players


Gender differences in goal setting, perceived motivational climate, perceived athletic ability, and perceived sources of confidence in athletic ability were evaluated for a male group and female group of high school basketball players (N = 174). Significant findings included higher scores among males for (a) perceived ego climate and (b) perfection of skills and physical performance as sources of confidence. Significant findings from simple correlation analyses included a positive relationship of both sexes’ task orientation, perceived task climate, and perceived ability, to 8 confidence sources. Male players’ ego orientation was positively related to demonstration of ability, physical performance, and social support. Males’ perceived ego climate and females’ ego orientation were both positively related to 7 of the 8 sources of confidence. Females’ ego orientation, males’ perceived ego climate, and the 8 sources were positively related to confidence perceived prior to competition. Stepwise regression analyses showed males’ task orientation and perceived ability to predict confidence prior to competition; for females, perceived ability and perceived task climate were effective predictors. Respondents derived better confidence in a task-oriented environment, so the researchers advise coaches to create task-oriented practice environments to enhance confidence of male and female players.

]Gender Differential in the Goal Setting, Motivation, Perceived Ability, and Confidence Sources of Basketball Players[

Self-confidence and sport-related confidence have been viewed as crucial factors influencing athletic performance. A number of studies show athletes who are strongly confident in terms of sport concentrate better, have healthier emotions, and demonstrate better game strategies, control of tempos, and performance than less confident athletes (Chi, 1996; Gould, 1981; Mahoney, Gabriel, & Perkin, 1987). The relationship between sport-related confidence and athletic performance should thus be of vital interest to sport psychologists. But sport-related confidence can be an inconsistent and transitory variable. Its instability over time is based largely on where players find their confidence, the confidence source. Research may shed light on how a particular source influences level of confidence, cognition, emotion, and behavior (Vealey, 1986). A careful examination of confidence sources offers to help explain the interaction of social background, organizational culture, and athletes’ individual characteristics.

Competitive sport is an environment for the pursuit of excellence in athletic performance (Duda, 1987). Sport psychology researchers have explored how players develop confidence in their athletic performance. Out of the social-cognitive perspective, achievement goal theory has gradually become popular as a model for testing  (Ames & Archer, 1988; Elliott & Dweck, 1988; Nicholls, 1984, 1989; Mills, 1997; Huang & Chi, 1994).

Prior research on achievement goal theory has shown that a task-oriented climate enhances motivation and confidence (Duda, 1992). There is a relationship between goal orientation and sport-related confidence. Athletes’ task orientation correlates positively to their sport confidence; athletes tending to emphasize acquisition of skill (in other words, perfection) along with the learning process and competitive process tend to have greater sport-related confidence. Shane’s study (2000) of 620 male and female high school or college athletes explored the relationship between goal orientation and sport-related confidence. Its findings showed significant gender differences in task orientation, ego orientation, and several confidence-source factors (skill perfection, demonstration of ability, and physiological/psychological preparation). The findings furthermore showed differences in the perceived sources of sport confidence for high school versus college athletes (both genders).

Studies like Shane’s might lead us to conclude that athletes’ emotions, levels of cognition, and behaviors affect their sport confidence. There is ample research indicating that task-oriented individuals and individuals operating in task-oriented climates have relatively positive emotions as well as a relatively high self-perception and self-perceived ability. Athletes perhaps more than nonathletes self-perceive their abilities, which would make strong impact on their sport confidence (Mills, 1997; Huang & Chi, 1994). Sport confidence research focusing on organizational culture (e.g., perceived motivational climate)  and other environmental factors, however, is rare. In Taiwan, even within sport psychology sport confidence is little used as a research construct.

But what are the variables in athletes’ confidence prior to competing? Where does sport confidence felt by male and female basketball players come from? The present study sought those sources of sport confidence, working from motivational theories and their constructs. The primary focus was relationships among high school basketball players’ goal orientation, perceived motivational climate, perceived ability, sport confidence sources, and pre-competition sport confidence levels, as well as how those relationships differed with the gender of the players.



The study participants were 174 male (n = 87) and female (n = 87) basketball players who had played in the 2003 HBL [Taiwanese high school basketball league] Division I tournament. The average age of a player was 17.09 years (SD = .91).


Four research questionnaires were used to measure four phenomena: (a) participants’ goal orientation, (b) the motivational climate they perceived, (c) perceived personal athletic ability, and (d) perceived personal sport-related confidence.  First, the Sport Goal Orientation Questionnaire (Duda & Nicholls, 1989; modified by Chi, 1993) contains 13 questions and is primarily used to measure individuals’ goal orientation in sport settings. Second, the Perceived Sport Motivation Climate Questionnaire (Seifriz, Duda, & Chi, 1992; modified by Huang & Chi, 1994), which comprises  two parts and 34 questions, is primarily used to measure, in team-sport settings, the motivational climate perceived by individual athletes. Third, a modified version of the Perceived Ability Questionnaire (Nicholls et al., 1985) presented 4 questions. Fourth, the Sport Confidence Questionnaire, Wu and Chi’s modification (2000) of the Vealey et al. Sources of Sports Confidence Questionnaire (1998), was employed to assess the participants’ sources of sport confidence. Wu and Chi’s Sport Confidence Questionnaire contains 35 questions and uses a 7-point Likert scale. Questions address eight proposed sources of confidence, as follows: perfection of skills, 5 questions; demonstration of ability, 6 questions; physiological/psychological preparation, 4 questions; physical performance, 3 questions; social support, 3 questions; vicarious experience, 4 questions; coach’s leadership style, 7 questions; and positive environment, 3 questions. Percentage of variance was 71.03%, and Cronbach’s alpha for the question sets ranged from .70 to .96, indicating strong validity and reliability for the instrument.


In advance of the survey administration, coaches and trainers strived to develop good relations with the players and to acquaint themselves well with the practice and game schedules. The researchers informed players participating in the study of the anonymous and strictly confidential nature of their survey responses, and that completing the four instruments would take about 30 minutes. Players met together 2 hours prior to their scheduled practice to complete the instruments. Time was taken at the start of the session to allow the researchers to explain questionnaire content to the participating players.


Gender differences were observed when t tests of the data were conducted (Table 1). The differences characterized goal orientation, perceived motivational climate, perceived ability, and sources of sport confidence. Male participants in the study recorded higher scores than female participants did for the sport-related confidence variables perceived ego climate, perfection of skills, and physical performance.

Table 1

Players’ Goal Orientation, Perceived Motivational Climate, Perceived Ability, and Sources of Sport Confidence, by Gender


Task orientation 4.052 0.529 4.123 0.569 -0.84
Ego orientation 3.580 0.556 3.500 0.567 0.94
Perceived task climate 3.894 0.437 3.911 0.499 -.24
Perceived ego climate 3.483 0.479 3.264 0.530 2.86*
Perceived ability 4.452 1.171 4.168 1.025 1.69
Perfection of skills 5.365 0.971 5.181 1.056 1.19**
Demonstration 5.523 0.971 5.181 1.056 1.24**
Physiological/psychological preparation 5.508 1.016 5.416 1.046 0.55
Physical performance 4.869 0.897 4.521 1.204 2.16*
Social support 5.272 0.940 5.157 1.199 0.70
Leadership styles 5.492 0.924 5.527 1.145 -0.21
Vicarious experience 5.486 0.932 5.416 1.088 0.33
Positive environment 5.134 1.029 5.038 1.185 0.59

*p < 0.05 **p < 0.01

When simple correlation analyses were performed, positive relationships were observed for the eight sources-of-sport-confidence variables and the task orientations, perceived task climates, and perceived abilities of players of either gender (Table 2, Table 3). (Again, the eight variables are perfection of skills, demonstration of ability, physical performance, physiological/psychological preparation, social support, vicarious experience, coach’s leadership style, and positive environment.) Among the male respondents, ego orientation was positively related to demonstration of ability, physical performance, and social support, while perceived ego climate was positively related to demonstration of ability, physical performance, physiological/psychological preparation, social support, vicarious experience, coach’s leadership style, and positive environment.

Among female respondents, ego orientation was positively related to demonstration of ability, physical performance, physiological/psychological preparation, social support, vicarious experience, coach’s leadership style, and positive environment, while ego climate was positively related to both vicarious experience and positive environment.

Table 2

Simple Correlations Between Variables–Male Respondents (n = 87)

task climate
ego climate

Perfection of skills .596** .179 .568** .203 .265*
Demonstration of ability .395** .270* .398** .358** .285
.430** .093 .478** .260* .272**
Physical performance .320** .212* .284** .288** .373**
Social support .518** .213* .524** .303** .390**
Coach’s leadership style .517** .192 .568** .284** .401**
Vicarious experience .412** .188 .541** .286** .302**
Positive environment .302** .144 .410** .365** .237**

*p < 0.05  **p < 0.01 (two-tailed)

Table 3

Simple Correlations Between Variables–Female Respondents (n = 87)

task climate
ego climate

Perfection of skills .639** .325** .664** .068 .415**
Demonstration of ability .570** .552** .541** .350** .263**
.683** .340** .688** .155 .365**
Physical performance .465** .397** .429** .091 .349**
Social support .637** .457** .648** .128 .426**
Coach’s leadership style .659** .479** .647** .203 .401**
Vicarious experience .595** .250* .684** .058 .536**
Positive environment .511** .309** .494** .227* .500

*p < 0.05   **p < 0.01 (two-tailed)

For the male respondents, perceived task climate effectively predicted demonstration of ability, physical performance, social support, vicarious experience, coach’s leadership style, and positive environment. In addition, their task orientation effectively predicted perfection of skills and physiological/psychological preparation. For the female respondents, perceived task climate was an effective predictor of perfection of skills, physical performance, social support, vicarious experience, and positive environment. In addition, their task orientation was an effective predictor of demonstration of ability, physiological/psychological preparation, coach’s leadership style, and positive environment.

For males, total equality of variance was 22.6%, and the variance for each variable was 17.6% and 5.0%. For females, perceived ability and perceived task climate were effective predictors of confidence perceived prior to competition; the total equality of variance was 43.9%, and the variance for each variable was 39.6% and 4.3%.


The study results include significant gender differences in perceived ego climate and three source-of-sport-confidence variables: perfection of skills, demonstration, and physical performance. Additionally, for both genders, sources of confidence were closely related to a player’s task orientation, perceived task climate, and perceived ability. During stepwise regression analyses, both genders’ sources of sport confidence were shown to be effectively predicted by a player’s task orientation, motivation task climate, and self-perceived ability. Such findings are in line with results of several previous studies (Shane, 2000; Vealey, 1998; Wu & Chi, 2000). The findings indicated further that players who were more task oriented, or preferred task-oriented climates, valued the participative process (comprising effort, perfection, and learning) over the win-lose outcome. This emphasis would have a positive effect on both sport-related confidence and the sources of that confidence. For this reason, the researchers suggest first that coaches work harder at creating task-oriented practice environments or climates, and second that they strive to understand the sources of their players’ sport-related confidence, in order to enhance the athletes’ confidence.

Future studies in the area of athletes’ sport-related confidence might investigate sequential effects of different types of motivational climates on sources of sport confidence (effort and performance) as well as on cognitive anxiety, state anxiety, and satisfaction.


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