Determining If Competition Level Matters in Developing Positive and Negative Youth Sportsmanship
American Journal of Sports Science
Volume 6, Issue 2, June 2018, Pages: 38-46
Received: Feb. 1, 2018; Accepted: Feb. 16, 2018; Published: Mar. 24, 2018
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Skye Gerald Arthur-Banning, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, Clemson University, Clemson, USA
Mary Sara Wells, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, University of Utah, Salt Lake, USA
Brian Malcarne, Recreation and Leisure Administration, York College of Pennsylvania, York, USA
Young Suk Oh, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, Clemson University, Clemson, USA
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Millions of young athletes engage in youth sport every year at a variety of levels ranging from beginning instruction up through elite national competitions. Parents are frequently registering these youth in sport for a variety of benefits including the frequently mentioned purpose of “building character”. Although a vague term, building character is often associated with the concept of moral behavior or sportsmanship. Youth sport professionals hoping to develop programs focused on the benefits of improving sportsmanship should understand how all aspects of their programs can either improve or hinder these types of behaviors. This requires a greater understanding of how the level of competition will contribute to both positive and negative sportsmanship behaviors. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine if differences in positive and negative sportsmanship behaviors exist at various levels of competitive youth sport experiences. To accomplish this, systematic observations occurred at two different soccer tournaments. The first tournament was designed for elite athletes in the Mountain West region of the US while the second tournament was more recreationally based and was located in the South East. A total of 62 games were observed of young athletes in the U-12 and U-14 age groups. Prior to observing these games, observers went through an extensive training to ensure that they could reach 80% agreement in their observations of both the positive and negative sportsmanship behaviors engaged in by the athletes, spectators, and coaches of each game. Results from this study suggest a lack of difference between the two competitive levels in terms of positive sportsmanship behavior, but a significant (p < 05) difference did exist between the elite athletes and recreational athletes in the number of negative sportsmanship behaviors demonstrated in a half game with the elite athletes engaging in nearly four times as many negative sportsmanship behaviors. Although some limitations do exist, youth sport professionals can use this information in a variety of ways. To begin, programs targeted at improving sportsmanship now know how to better target their efforts. This can be done through additional trainings for the programs serving elite athletes. Finally, it is important to note that programs at all levels were demonstrating many positive qualities. Consequently, it would behoove youth sport professionals to attempt to minimize the negative behaviors without eliminating the opportunities for athletes, coaches, and spectators to behave positively.
Youth Sport, Sportsmanship, Competition
To cite this article
Skye Gerald Arthur-Banning, Mary Sara Wells, Brian Malcarne, Young Suk Oh, Determining If Competition Level Matters in Developing Positive and Negative Youth Sportsmanship, American Journal of Sports Science. Vol. 6, No. 2, 2018, pp. 38-46. doi: 10.11648/j.ajss.20180602.12
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This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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