Sport and social structures : building community on campuses
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Student affairs personnel are often charged with the task of creating a strong sense of community (SOC) on university campuses. Sport is among one of the many extracurricular activities that historically has been used to meet this need for community among students. Yet, how and when a sense of community is created within a sport context has not been appropriately addressed in literature. Utilizing a symbolic interactionalist theoretical framework, this study employed a grounded theory approach and uncovered the necessary factors for creating a sense of community within two intercollegiate sport settings. First, 21 former university sport club participants were interviewed regarding their experiences. The results revealed that Common Interest, Leadership Opportunities, Amateurism/ Voluntary Activity, and Competition were the most critical components to creating a sense of community. These results along with the results of Warner and Dixon’s (in review; see Appendix F) sense of community study among varsity athletes, which concluded that Administrative Consideration, Leadership Opportunities, Equity in Administrative Decisions, Competition, and Social Spaces were the key factors to foster a sense of community, were then used to guide focus groups. Eight focus groups consisting of 39 current varsity and sport club athletes were then conducted to further examine and explain the differences and similarities that emerged between the two sense of community in sport models. The results propose a broad based sense of community within sport theory that considers the contextual contingencies surrounding an athlete-driven versus a professionally-administered sport model. The results contribute to community building and sport management theory, and provide practical solutions for enhancing the intercollegiate sport experience. The implications and philosophical differences between an athlete-directed sport experiences versus a more formalized and structured sport model are also discussed.
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