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The role of theory in researching sports development Prof Fred Coalter Prof Fred Coalter University of Stirling Studying Sports Development Brunel University.

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Presentation on theme: "The role of theory in researching sports development Prof Fred Coalter Prof Fred Coalter University of Stirling Studying Sports Development Brunel University."— Presentation transcript:

1 The role of theory in researching sports development Prof Fred Coalter Prof Fred Coalter University of Stirling Studying Sports Development Brunel University April 2006 Its not what you do but the way that you do it The price of everything and the value of nothing

2 Playing on everybody's team Social Exclusion. Arts, sport and leisure activities….have a role to play in countering Social Exclusion. They can help to increase the self-esteem of individuals; build community spirit; increase social interaction; improve health and fitness; create employment and give young people a purposeful activity, reducing the temptation to anti-social behaviour. Social Inclusion Strategy (Scottish Office, 1999) neighbourhood renewal Sport can contribute to neighbourhood renewal by improving communities performance on four key indicators - health, crime, employment and education. Policy Action Group 10 (DCMS, 1999) Sports development is a surprisingly difficult term to define Houlihan and White

3 Louise Fréchette, the UN Deputy Secretary General. World Sports Forum March 2000 The power of sports is far more than symbolic. You are engines of economic growth. You are a force for gender equality. You can bring youth and others in from the margins, strengthening the social fabric. You can promote communication and help heal the divisions between peoples, communities and entire nations. You can set an example of fair play. Last but not least, you can advocate a strong and effective United Nations. Its got the whole world in its hands

4 2005: UN Year of Sport and Physical Education, collaborated with organisations in the commercial, public and voluntary sectors what was missing, however, was a systematic approach to an civil society important sector in civil society: sport …. the United Nations is turning to the world of sport for help in the work for peace and the effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Universal primary education Promoting gender equality/empowering women Combating HIV/AIDS Addressing issues of environmental sustainability Going beyond the touch line Plus Sport Sport plus

5 Liberia: post war conflict resolution Senegal: rural Muslim communities South Africa: peer leader training Malawi: street children and re-integration Uganda 1: HIV/AIDS Uganda 2: refugees Tanzania: HIV/AIDS and female empowerment Mumbai: slum and street children Calcutta: railway children Sport-in-Development Sport-in-Development Sport or sport plus? Sport or sport plus?

6 Intermediate impacts Personal/social development/attitudes Intermediate impacts Personal/social development/attitudes Intermediate outcomes Intermediate outcomes Behaviour Behaviour Strategic outcomes Community regeneration/social capital Community regeneration/social capital Conflict resolution Conflict resolution Inputs Outputs Sporting inclusion Sporting inclusion Traditional SD: Equity Sporting Outcomes Skills, rules, ethics Direct Intervening Confounding Indirect Its more than a game Beyond participation Beyond participation

7 Nobody knows the score…….... a widespread lack of empirical research on outcomes, and more importantly, the mechanisms and processes via which they are achieved (especially in 'real life situations) Coalter et al (2000) Collins et al (1999) Only 11 studies had "anything approaching rigorous evaluations and some of these did not give specific data for excluded groups or communities". Witt and Crompton (1996) Review of 120 programmes for at-risk youth: 30% had no evaluation Only 4% had pre/post evaluation of participation-related changes …….or the rules! …….or the rules! Sport lacks a robust evidence base to support its case for continued and increased levels of public funding. Game Plan (2002)

8 the clearest call for TBE comes when prior evaluations show inconsistent results Weiss (1997) Conceptual weaknesses (1) Sport; participation; frequency; anti-social behaviour Conceptual weakness (2) Causes of crime, educational under-achievement, lack of social cohesion Methodological weaknesses Cross-sectional; lack of controls; self-selection Little consideration of sufficient conditions Process; experience Ill-defined interventions with hard to follow outcomes

9 Mythopoeic nature of sport Popular/idealistic ideas produced outside sociological analysis Sports evangelism Relationships between some variables to exclusion of others Vague/generalised images, elements of truth reified/distorted represent not reflect reality : ad hominem evidence Stand for supposed, but unexamined, impacts/processes Concepts whose demarcation criteria are not specific: sport? Political/professional/commonsense repertoires/tacit knowledge Inflated promises funding/status/political advantage Theoretical / hypothetical coherence assume outcomes intriguingly vague and open for several interpretations Kruse

10 Sport Sport presumed to have causal powers Closed system: medical/treatment model: social vaccine Search for the killer fact/empirical generalisation: Sport can…. Outputs/ outcomes emphasised heterogeneous replication Issues ignored/downplayed Conditionality [weak to moderate; cross-sectional; self-report; direction of cause; confounding variables] Cultural context Validity: comparing the same thing? Process/mechanisms: how/why? sufficient conditions Sport as a magic box

11 A Question of Sport Patriksson (1998) The futility of arguing whether sport is good or bad has been observed by several authors. Sport, like most activities, is not a priori good or bad, but has the potential of producing both positive or negative outcomes. Questions like what conditions are necessary for sport to have beneficial outcomes? must be asked more often. ….there is nothing about …sport itself that is magical….It is the experience of sport that may facilitate the result. Papacharisisi et al (2005) Fire, steady, aim

12 Playing in mid-field Generative approach to causation Not sport underlying resources/process is all Families of programmes families of mechanisms Causation is contingent/interactive/not guaranteed Theory underpinning programme generalisation Understanding causes/solutions and managing for outcomes? Understanding process precedes definition of possible outcomes Outcome measurement without process: limited explanatory value Sports evangelism middle range theory Mechanisms, processes, networks and purposive action

13 So, what is this game? Physical fitness/health Personality/psychological development Self-efficacy/confidence/self-esteem/ locus of control Structural/process properties Presumed outcomes Mental health/psychological well-being Anxiety/ stress Socio-psychological Empathy/tolerance/co-operation/social skills Sociological Community identity/coherence/ integration Employability Reduced Crime Education Drug use Social cohesion Social capital Direct effectsIndirect outcomes Necessary condition sufficient conditions

14 Its more than just balls Individual Partner Team Strategy Physical Skills Cognitive Motor Criterion Norm Competitive Recreational Contact Non- Contact Which sports, which outcomes for which individual/groups? Sport S : Processes relationships learning outcomes

15 Intermediate impacts Personal/social development/attitudes Intermediate impacts Personal/social development/attitudes Intermediate outcomes Intermediate outcomes Behaviour Behaviour Strategic outcomes Community regeneration/social capital Community regeneration/social capital Conflict resolution Conflict resolution Inputs Outputs Sporting inclusion Sporting inclusion Traditional SD: Equity Sporting Outcomes Skills, rules, ethics Its more than a game Beyond participation Beyond participation Theory of change Research free zone Sport plus?

16 Relationship between strategy and tactics? Programmes are theories Logic models Outline core theories: how is programme supposed to work? Interrogate: is basic plan sound/plausible/practical/valid? Reveal assumptions Illustrate connections Programme components/expected outcomes sufficient conditions Strengthen claims for causality Estimate difficult-to-measure programme effects on the balance of probability Causes and cures because so many programs have failed to show success, much program theory in undoubtedly wrong Weiss

17 Programme theories/logic theories of change Basis for M&E Research/theory Properties/processes of participation that lead to such outcomes? Relationship between participation and type of intermediate impacts? How, to what extent, such changes will result in changed behaviours? TBE : a two-way conversation M&E as development Decision-makers question/analyse assumptions/risks Engages stakeholders in the planning and monitoring process

18 Develop sporting/leadership skills Develop sporting/ethical attitudes [peer leaders] Develop self-efficacy/confidence HIV/AIDS information [KAO/didactic] Self-efficacy + attitudes + information changed sexual behaviour Gender equity attitudes/behaviour A Model /Theory of Sport, HIV/AIDS and Sexual Behaviour Change Reduced risk-taking sexual behaviour Self-esteem [mostly peer leaders?] … maybe

19 SELF- EFFICACY VERBAL PERSUASION IMITATION & MODELING PHYSIOLOGICAL AROUSAL PERFORMANCE Sources of perceived self - efficacy Sources of perceived self - efficacy Beliefs about capabilities to influence events that affect their lives. If I cant do a job first time, I keep on trying until I can

20 Motivational Climate Mastery Effort & improvement Important role Cooperative learning Performance Intra-team rivalry Unequal recognition Punishment of mistakes Social Climate and Self-Efficacy Social Climate and Self-Efficacy Not what you do…but how you do it Not what you do…but how you do it

21 Sport and Anti-social Behaviour Sport and Anti-social Behaviour What are causes of anti-social behaviour? How/why can sport address these? Differential association Peer/criminal sub-cultures new peers/role models Boredom [opportunity-led crime] Diversionary schemes Adolescent development needs Catharsis/excitement/competition Educational failure:blocked aspirations/achievement/self-esteem Achievement locus of control Lack of self-discipline Training/performance/deferred gratification sports programmes/processes

22 The problem with the Irish….. Are the issues simply methodological? Is the verdict simply not proven? What are the nature/scope/scale of our claims? Sport or sport plus or……..

23 We mount limited-focus programs to cope with broad-gauge problems. We devote limited resources to long-standing and stubborn problems. Above all we concentrate attention on changing the attitudes and behaviour of target groups without concomitant attention to the institutional structures and social arrangements that tend to keep them target groups. Weiss (1993 ) Paradox of empowerment Mwaanga Empowerment Through Womens Football complex systems thrust amidst complex systems

24 What game are we playing? Whose side are you on?!!

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26 Intermediate impacts Improvements in cognitive and social skills. Reductions in impulsiveness and risk-taking behaviour Raised self-efficacy/confidence and self-esteem Inputs : resources: type of staff Outputs: type of programmes Individual/partner/team Social outcomes Reduction in crime Sport and anti-social behaviour Intermediate outcomes Improvements in education and employment prospects Reduced anti-social/criminal behaviour/drug taking Sporting Outcomes Frequency/intensity/adherence Process, interaction, relationships

27 6 stone weakling meets 400 pound gorilla

28 Knowledge creep theory of the role of evaluation Diffuse and undirected infiltration of research ideas into [decision- makers] understanding of the world…. few deliberate and targeted uses of findings from individual studies. Rather they absorbed the concepts and generalisations from many studies over extended periods of time and they integrated research ideas……..into their interpretation of events…..gradual sensitisation to the perspectives of social science Weiss There are no killer facts Policy makers like stories and we need to understand ……… Hard scientific evidence?

29 Cost benefit or political benefit? Cost benefit or political benefit? a rational exercise that takes place in a political context Carol Weiss Evidence more plural than research Tests of truth and utility Professional repertoires : congruent or confronting Politics of doing something Placating interest groups Enhancing political/organisational influence getting money into sport Take off more important than landings? Professional/organisational interests marginal policy area: status anxiety/legitimacy


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