Research Paper: Sports Participation Character Development Opening

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[. . .] In the article, "Justplay: A revolutionary approach to youth sport administration and sportsmanship," Elaine Raakman (2006) asserts that although the potential exists for youth sport participation to build positive character traits, when society diverts its emphasis away from sportsmanship to focusing more on outcome, children as well as communities may experience negative benefits. Raakman relates the following:

The original goals of the first community-organized youth sport programs (Pop Warner Football in 1929 and Little League in 1938) revolved around the development of good citizenship and good sportsmanship. The founders of these programs were actually reiterating principles made famous by the father of the modern Olympics, Baron de Coubertin, who asserted that participation in sport could help develop engaged, balanced citizens. (Raakman, 2006, ¶ 3)

A sports team, Raakman (2006) explains, simply constitutes another version of a community. The same principles apply to a sports team as prove applicable to any communal undertaking, whether a that undertaking depicts a "community garden, a neighborhood watch, or racing around France: If you want something, first you have to give it. You have to invest in it" (Lance Armstrong cited in Raakman, ¶ 5). Armstrong, an accomplished professional athlete in the past, stresses that for individuals to attain success as a team, they must first adopt a community mindset. Citizens have citizenship. Citizenship, "based on the origin of the word, implies that one is a 'servant of the community'" (Raakman, ¶ 6). Citizens or members of a successful team have to serve their community (team) and invest in their community (team). Each team member needs to recognize that he constitutes a small component of a bigger entity (member of a team; citizen of a community). The 2006 Citizenship through Sports Alliance report indicates that youth sports no longer focus on the child/youth. Instead, they suffer from the actions of over-invested parents; and too often focus on early sports specialization. According to Angela Lumpkin (2008) in the report, "Teaching values through youth and adolescent sports," this recent analysis coupled with "the inappropriate actions of coaches and parents should sound an alarm that youth and adolescent sports are at risk of causing more harm than good" (Issues of Concern Section, ¶ 1). To effectively address the significant negative and unhealthy characteristics complicating youth and adolescent sports, teaching character and sportsmanship through sports needs to be re-emphasized.

Matthew L. Davidson and Kelli E. Moran-Miller (2005) contend that a person cannot necessarily be "taught" character; that he or she will more likely catch it or "pick it up" from individuals around them who live as good examples. In the study, "Character development in sport: An ethnographic study of character development in an elite prep-school basketball program," Davidson and Moran-Miller, previously on staff at the Mendelson Center for Sport, Character & Culture at the University of Notre Dame, stress that sports comprise a particularly prominent role in the culture of American education. The massive number of individuals participating in some sort of sport, the revenues sport generates, and the continual coverage media devotes to sport confirm its significance. In fact, in most of the world's cultures, athletics claim a great influence. In the study, "Talented male athletes: Exemplary character or questionable characters?," P. Brian Greenwood, and Michael A. Kanters (2009) recount the ongoing debate: Does sports participation builds or reveal character? The study of sport participation as a mechanism for positive development of youth and adolescents has centered upon the age-old debate over whether sport builds or reveals character. Research of sport in a developmental context indicates support for not only enhanced physical and mental health and psychological adjustment, but also academic achievement, emotional regulation, and positive occupational outcomes. Additional research, albeit, contradicts this contention and link numerous associated costs of sport participation may link to aggressive and violent tendencies, increased alcohol use, negative peer and adult interaction or pressure, decreased moral reasoning, and problem behavior. Parents and coaches as well as adults who work with youth and adolescent sports have the responsibility to teach character, a critical component not only in sport and life, to young athletes. Lumpkin (2008) asserts that adults working in youth sports also need to reinforce moral reasoning to young sportspersons. "Moral reasoning is the systematic process of evaluating personal values and developing a consistent and impartial set of moral principles by which to live" (Lumpkin, Strategies for Teaching Character . . ., Section, ¶ 1). Methods coaches and parents may utilize to teach character and moral values to youth in sports include but are not limited to the following:

Develop athletes' sports skills - Teach and emphasize learning fundamental skills before helping athletes develop more advanced skills and game strategies.

Develop physical fitness - Teach how to properly develop and maintain cardio-respiratory conditioning, muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Emphasize teamwork - Emphasize that when all athletes work together and contribute their best, the team will be successful, regardless of the final score.

Teach dedication and self-discipline - Stress that learning and improving sports skills, developing and maintaining fitness, and contributing to the team occur when athletes work hard and put forth their best efforts.

Build athletes' self-confidence - Give positive reinforcement when athletes display progress in developing their sports skills, play by the rules, contribute to the team, or demonstrate values-based behaviors.

Develop athletes' character - Teach values and ethical conduct such as respect, responsibility, and sportsmanship by explaining, demonstrating, modeling, and reinforcing these and related values.

Nurture friendships among athletes - Make sports enjoyable experiences that are enriched because they are shared with teammates.

Keep winning in perspective - Reward athletes' efforts and improvement rather than the outcome of any competition. Enhancing the Sport Experiences of Youth . . . (Lumpkin, 2008, Enhancing the Sport Experiences. . ., Section, ¶ 1-10).

An abundance of cliches exist in the sport world like: "Sport builds character." Individuals with a developmental perspective, albeit, realize that positive effects of sport participation do not automatically emerge. In the report, "2007 C.H. McCloy lecture: 'Field of Dreams:' Sport as a context for youth development," Maureen R. Weiss, (2008) asserts that "Instead, [character] . . . must be nurtured through carefully designed curricula and teaching strategies and evaluated in terms of whether and how these factors effect change in moral functioning" (Character Development, Section, ¶ 1). Character or moral development highlights the potential for sport to utilize teachable moments that occur naturally to help youth adopt positive values. Those values include, but are not limited to teamwork, esteem, responsibility, and sportsmanship. Character or moral development can also help youth better abstain from physical and/or relational aggression as well as help them resist the temptation to abuse substances. Although sportsmanship is recognized to reflect character, the meaning of the word, as the meaning of the word, character, may not be consistently, clearly defined. In the journal article, "Promoting sportsmanship in youth sports: Perspectives from sport psychology; sport psychology provides crucial insights for improving behavior in sport," Jay D. Goldstein, a doctoral student, and Seppo E. Iso-Ahola (2006), Professor, Department of Kinesiology at the University of Maryland, stress the need for sporting environments to nurture sportsmanship. Goldstein and Iso-Ahola cite the National Collegiate Athletic Association to explain that sportsmanship depicts a "set of behaviors to be exhibited by athletes, coaches, officials, administrators and fans (parents) in athletic competition. These behaviors are based on such fundamental values as respect, fairness, civility, honesty, and responsibility" (¶ 3). They contend that adopting the following practices will create a more positive environment for youth sports:

Philosophy. Require athletes, coaches, officials, parents, and administrators to adhere to such fundamental values as respect, fairness, civility, honesty, and responsibility.

Measurable Standards. Require strict adherence to written policies and procedures related to sportsmanship and ethical conduct, and continually and aggressively communicate the policies and procedures to the participants, coaches, officials, parents, and administrators.

Education. Provide sporting and ethical-conduct education to participants, coaches, officials, parents, and administrators. . . .

Evaluation. Undertake systematic and rigorous monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of sporting and ethical-conduct education efforts. (Goldstein & Iso Ahola, 2006, Recommendation Section, ¶ 2-5)

In sport psychology, the term, "moral development in sport" portrays the focus for research investigating primary concepts of ethics, morality, and sportsmanship. Basically, this sphere of research attempts to answer the longstanding question: "Does sport build character or characters?" (Broun, cited in Goldstein & Iso-Ahola, 2006, Moral Development in Sport Section, ¶ 1). Various programs may seek to fulfill diverse goals for moral education; however, the majority includes educating youth about moral principles and independent decision making in a way that entails increasingly higher moral reasoning and contributes to character strengths.

The research relating to sports participation and character development indicates that a crisis currently exists in the realm of encouraging ongoing character development in youth participating in sports. One gap the researcher notes in the literature relates to the consideration of whether positive character may be developed when adolescents participate… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Sports Participation Character Development Opening.  (2011, February 10).  Retrieved April 25, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/sports-participation-character-development/9749705

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