The Process of Developing Contribution Among Young Athletes

  • Author / Creator
    Deal, Colin Jeffery
  • The overall purposes of this dissertation were to define the term contribution and examine the process by which contribution may be developed through sport. This research was guided by three research questions: (a) what properties are associated with and define contribution? (b) what does contribution mean to youth sport stakeholders? and (c) how do youth athletes develop contribution through involvement in the context of sport? These questions, and the overall objectives of this dissertation, were addressed through three studies. The purposes of the first study were to identify the properties that underlie contribution and to establish a theoretical definition of the construct. Using a scoping review methodology (Levac et al., 2010), six properties of contribution were identified from definitions and descriptions extracted from 75 manuscripts. These properties were combined to create a theoretical definition of contribution. A panel of 20 expert judges rated the properties and definition as fitting well to very well (5.05 to 5.70 on a 6-pt scale) with their conceptualizations of contribution. The purposes of the second study were to examine coaches’ perspectives on contribution through sport and obtain their feedback on the theoretical definition of contribution. Data were collected via focus groups with 13 coaches from a variety of individual and team sports (M age = 33.0 years, SD = 11.1). Focus group transcripts were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2019). Findings were presented as two categories. In the first category, youth sport coaches’ perceptions of contribution, the coaches discussed contribution as an athlete by providing sport specific examples of contribution behaviour and their perceptions that contribution involved having a positive impact and acting with intent. Regarding the second category, coaches’ feedback on the definition, coaches expressed that the definition fit with their conceptualizations of contribution, although the coaches felt the definition was complex and questioned whether the definition should have focused on intent versus behaviour. A practical definition of contribution was suggested to address the coaches’ criticisms of the theoretical definition. The purpose of the third study was to create a grounded theory of the development of contribution through sport. Struassian grounded theory (Corbin & Strauss, 2015) was adopted as a research methodology and 20 participants including athletes, coaches, parents, and youth sport administrators, were interviewed individually. The development of contribution through sport was found to be a three-stage process. The first stage was characterized by the centrality of personal development, whereby the foundation for contribution was laid through instilling core values and developing relationships. In the second stage, youth engaged in their initial contribution experiences typically through invitations from adults. These invitations, and initial contribution experiences, helped build competence and confidence and if these initial contribution experiences were perceived as successful youth athletes were likely to continue to engage in contribution activities. The third stage was characterized by the display of regular or sustained contribution by athletes and a shifted focus from development of the individual to providing a benefit to others. Throughout all three stages of the process, coaches and parents stood out as influential individuals; however, the relative influence of the two groups changed as youth got older, became more independent, and drove their own contribution. Collectively, these studies clarify the construct of contribution and illuminate how it may be developed through sport.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • 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.