Exploring Flourishing in Canadian University Sport

  • Author / Creator
    Pankow, Kurtis Desmond Edward
  • The overall purpose of this dissertation was to explore flourishing among Canadian university student-athletes and coaches. This was addressed via three studies. The purpose of the first study was to investigate mental health protective and risk factors among flourishing Canadian university student-athletes over the course of their sport season. Pre- and post-season interviews were conducted with six flourishing women student-athletes, who also kept weekly written diaries of their experiences in-season. Interpretative phenomenological analysis methodology (Smith et al., 2009) was used. Results demonstrated that these flourishing women student-athletes took a range of approaches to protecting or promoting their flourishing at different stages of the season. In the pre-season they took time to build their flourishing. In-season was dedicated to maintaining their flourishing. In the post-season, the participants described taking time to re-invest in their flourishing. The purpose of the second study was to investigate how flourishing Canadian university sport coaches protected and promoted their flourishing. Individual retrospective interviews were conducted with seven flourishing men who were head or associate head coaches of their university sport team. Data analysis again followed recommendations from Smith et al. (2009) for interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results demonstrated that these coaches acted in ways that supported their personally created principles in order to protect or promote their flourishing. Three principles were evident among the participants: balance, personal growth, and making a difference. The purpose of the third study was to identify how flourishing can be promoted through coach-athlete relationships in Canadian university sport. Interviews were conducted with 10 current or former student-athletes, six coaches, three former student-athletes who went on to coach, two administrators, one athletic therapist, and one sport psychology practitioner. Data analysis followed Miles et al.’s (2019) recommendations for pragmatic qualitative research in order to generate a process map. Results demonstrated that flourishing through the coach-athlete relationship began with the creation of shared goals between the student-athlete and coach. Then, the student-athlete and coach took on different roles in the pursuit of goal-oriented growth. The student-athlete was responsible for learning about available resources and engaging with them, while the coach provided, taught about, and gave the student-athlete time to use the resources. If the student-athlete and coach recognised goal-oriented growth, they would experience flourishing outcomes. This process was facilitated by the coach athlete relationship as well as other individual, relational, and environmental facilitators. Together these studies demonstrate that flourishing in sport is a complex process involving a range of intra- and interpersonal factors. This research can be used to inform policies and programs aimed at improving mental health outcomes for student-athletes and coaches.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.