Sport plays a major part in the Australian psyche with millions of people participating every year. However organised sport at the local or social level in Australia relies on volunteers to support the needs of associations and their participating clubs. There is evidence that Internet applications are being adopted within associations and clubs for administration purposes (such as committee members using email to communicate with each other, or use of the Internet to record match results and calculate player performance statistics online). However, how are these being adopted, what are they being used for and what is the effect of the adoption on the associations and their volunteers? Using the Rogers’ (2005) innovation-decision process as a basis, this chapter describes the development of a framework that traces the adoption of an Internet application from initial knowledge of the application, through the decision to adopt and eventual confirmation of the usefulness of the application by continuance or discontinuance of its use. As local sporting clubs and associations are part of a larger group known as community based organisations and are predominantly run by volunteers, literature related to Internet application use by these groups is used to inform the framework. Lastly, an actual example of the adoption of an online statistics program in a local sporting association is mapped onto the framework, to show it may be applied in a practical situation.
Setting The Scene: Issues And Problems
Sport plays a major part of the Australian psyche. It provides benefits for the community and individuals, such as improved health, social networking, and self esteem improvement. Local sporting clubs play an important role in Australia. For instance, in the 2005/6 season, from a population of around 20 million people, there were almost 550,000 participants playing cricket in Australia (Cricket Australia, 2006). Even a less high-profile sport, such as field hockey, had nearly 140,000 participants (Hockey Australia, 2006). Sport plays a significant role amongst Australian youth, with 10% of boys (aged 5-14 years) participating in the game of cricket, behind outdoor soccer (20%), swimming (13%), and Australian Rules football (13%) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003). Belonging to such a group can bring a sense of community, which is “a feeling the members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and the group and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment together” (McMillan & Chavis, 1986, p. 9). Pretty, Andrewes and Collett (1994) suggest that there is a link between sense of community and individual well-being. In many countries around the world, the introduction of sporting programs, activities and events to the community is largely reliant on volunteers to invest their time and energy (Cuskelly, 1995).
Local sporting clubs are part of the larger group known as community based organisations (CBOs). CBOs as a sector rely heavily on volunteers to support their activities. In the case of local sporting clubs, this reliance is usually on their members (both playing and non-playing), who typically perform a number of administrative and other support activities on a volunteer basis to ensure their clubs remain operational.
With their involvement in local sporting clubs over a number of years, the authors have observed the introduction of Internet technologies into many member activities. These activities range from the use of email to improve communications between committee members, to the introduction of online systems to handle match scores and statistics related to player performance – the latter eliminating repeated data entry and saving countless labour hours. The adoption of these different applications of Internet technologies are sometimes driven from the ‘top’ (that is, from the club or even cricket association level) and imposed upon members in the clubs. However, in some instances the adoption may have been driven from the ‘bottom’, via ‘technology savvy’ members keen to apply the technology as part of their duties.