Strategies for the Development of Life Skills and Values through Sport Programmes: Review and Recommendations

Strategies for the Development of Life Skills and Values through Sport Programmes: Review and Recommendations

Koon Teck Koh, Martin Camiré
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7527-8.ch014
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Sport is a very popular activity that provides a context suitable for positive youth development (Danish, Forneris, & Wallace, 2005). Although the acquisition of motor skills and sport-specific abilities are indispensable constituents of sport involvement, other elements contributing to athletes' positive development such as life skills and values must be considered (Carron, Hausenblas, & Estabrooks, 2003; Forneris, Camiré, & Trudel, 2012; Landers & Petruzzelo, 1994). Several studies have examined the effectiveness of sport-based programmes designed for developing life skills and values, but a limited amount of research has specifically addressed how to promote this type of material among youth. There is a need for a review that explores the potential approaches for infusing the learning of life skills and values in sport participation, and improving the effectiveness of structured life skills and values-driven training programmes in order to achieve the desired developmental benefits of sport participation.
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Numerous benefits have been associated with participation in sport, especially in school sport programmes (Bailey, 2006; Etnier et al., 1997). According to a poll commissioned by the Josephson Institute Center for Sport Ethics (2006), more than half of the young athletes surveyed stated that they had acquired character traits in the respective games that they were involved in. Indeed, sport has been deemed to be a platform conducive to the development of life skills, values and character that can benefit individuals’ personal growth such as interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies, which are important in later parts of one’s life (Gould & Carson, 2008). Participation in sport can also possibly generate positive behaviours such as supporting teammates or helping injured opponents while reducing negative behaviours such as intimidating and injuring other players (Kavussanu, 2007). Given the demonstrated potential of sport in fostering the development of positive life skills and values in youth, it is not surprising that policy makers and curriculum developers want to use sport to make significant and distinctive contributions to positive youth development, to schools, and to wider society (Bailey et al., 2009).

However, it is important to understand that positive developmental outcomes do not emerge automatically from mere participation in sport. Poor sportsmanship, decline in moral reasoning, discrimination, racism, aggression, and win-at-all cost attitudes that distort fair play have been associated with sport participation as well (Bredemeier, Weiss, Shields, & Cooper, 1987; Buford-May, 2001). Indeed, the emergence of positive outcomes must be nurtured through a purposeful curriculum and deliberate teaching strategies (Bailey et al., 2009; Camiré, Trudel, & Forneris, 2012; Gould, Carson, & Blanton, 2013). When programmes are efficiently delivered, sport participation has been associated with positive effects on self-esteem, educational pursuit, psychosocial functioning, fair-play, moral reasoning, and desired behaviours among adolescents (Harrison & Narayan, 2003; Marsh & Kleitman, 2003; Mouratidou, Goutza, & Chatzopoulos, 2007; Vidoni & Ward, 2009). It is therefore importance for sport administrators, instructors, and policy makers to monitor and evaluate how sport can contribute to the development of life skills and values in young athletes for them to become productive citizen and make positive contributions to society (Bailey et al., 2009; Côté & Gilbert, 2009). This statement is especially important and being met with growing interest in Asian countries such as China and Taiwan who have hosted or will be hosting major international sporting events such as the Olympic Games, the Youth Olympic Games, and the World Games. As a result, the demand for sport science studies has increased tremendously in the Asian region (Dolles & Söderman, 2008).

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