Parent identity and youth sport volunteerism




Griffiths, Randall Joseph

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Youth sport relies on parents to volunteer for positions at all levels of the organization. Among these volunteer positions, the volunteer-coach is often responsible for the creation and delivery of most services in youth sport. The current scope of youth sport would be unattainable without parents’ continuous support; therefore, recruitment and retention of these parent-volunteer-coaches is a critical task for youth sport organizations. Parents, however, do not respond to volunteer service as would be predicted from current volunteer literature (Kim, Chelladurai, & Trail, 2007). Perhaps is the behavior of volunteers in the youth sport setting is due to their identities as parents. The presence of their children in a youth sport setting has always been assumed to be a primary motivator for parents to volunteer as youth sport coaches. This research used narrative analysis (Polkinghorne, 1995), identity theory (Stryker, 1968, 2000) and inductive coding to interpret the experiences of parent-volunteer-coaches in the youth sport setting. The inductive coding analysis yielded two groups of roles available within the youth sport setting: aspirational roles and avoided roles. The narrative analysis yielded seventeen parent stories by identifying the central plot that connected important events to role choices. Five groups of stories--History, Prior Arrangements, Crucible, Right Role, and System--resulted from an examination of the similarities among the plots. Ultimately, the role choices made in response to tension in each plot led to choosing the volunteer-coach role. These results suggest that the experience of youth sport volunteer coaching is not primarily based on a relationship with the organization. These volunteer stories rarely included the organization as the most important influence on their experience; instead, parent volunteer experiences were driven by identities that led to role choices within the parent-child relationship. Role choices were not static throughout the volunteer experience; several parents continued to shift the roles played in response to changes in perceptions of the context. Youth sport organizations that recognize the impact of the parent-child relationship can design volunteer recruitment and retention programs leading to greater satisfaction for parents while at the same time fulfilling the organizational need for dedicated volunteers.



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