Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

Resources in grassroots recreation: Organizational capacity and quality of experience in community sport.

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Sharpe, E.K. (2006). Resources at the grassroots of recreation: Organizational capacity and quality of experience in a community sports organization. Leisure Sciences, 28(4),385-401.

After examining Sharpe’s (2006) case study that explored the Appleton Minor Softball League, our class actively discussed problems that affect the experience of those youth sport participation.

At the end of the study, one problem that really stuck out was the importance of winning and losing that seemed to be stressed on these kids. Unfairness was a big issue as parents were upset that some teams were much better than others, and umpires sometimes would not make the right calls.

Now, I personally define recreation as “physically and/or mentally active relaxation”. Recreation should not be something you win at, but rather enjoy doing. Whether that is because you love a certain sport, you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, or you just want to have fun with your friends, recreation should not be competitive. It was sad to see through this case study that the tyke division (5 – 7 year olds) had the most troubles of unfairness.

These kids should be concerned about learning more about the sport, and enhancing their social and physical skills, instead of focusing on who wins or loses, or which team is better or not. We discussed how some leagues have now begun to exclude scoreboards for certain ages, this way, learning and fun come before winning.

Let’s take out the scoreboards, and have parents and coaches put emphasis on learning and development at a young age, instead of keeping score. Players and volunteers alike should not feel any pressure in a Rec. league. Competitive leagues should be competitive, recreational leagues should be those looking to have fun, improve their skills, then perhaps advance to the higher leagues if they want too.

What do the readers think? What is your definition of Recreation? Is removing the scoreboard a good idea? Or even more radical which was an idea brought up in class…should PARENTS be removed from games?

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A bit extreme perhaps, but its exciting to think about what would happen.

Joe T.

Author: heyjoetodd

22 years old. Philosophy Major with a love of Sports.

One thought on “Resources in grassroots recreation: Organizational capacity and quality of experience in community sport.

  1. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to comment or if Greg is hoping to keep the conversation going among the class, but I am a regular reader and so many of the topics that students post grab my attention and get me thinking about topics I haven’t thought of before or prompt me to think about things differently. Many times I’ve wanted to comment, so, here it goes. As someone interested in youth development, this is such an important topic and I’m so happy to see discussion about it. I agree with Joe about the purpose of recreational leagues – fun and skill development (physical literacy; team work skills; problem-solving). Arguably, it is also a chance for youth to determine what they are interested in and/or what they want to purse at a competitive level (or whether they are the kind of kid who even wants to be in competitive sport). Removing the scoreboard would bring focus to having fun and improving one’s own skill (things that research says supports intrinsic motivation and ongoing participation) and gives little or no attention to a culture that has youth comparing themselves to others or defining their success in comparison to others (things that lessen intrinsic motivation and contribute to dropout). But there are those who say that youth need to learn to cope with winning and losing and I understand the value of that as well. I guess maybe organizations have to decide what the main goal or purpose is for a particular age group or program. Some recreational programs do ban parents from watching practices for the reasons Joe identified. Although I’ve never been to one, I’ve had students tell me about game days where everyone watching must be silent (e.g., no cheering, but also no yelling at the refs or coaches). So maybe the idea of banning parents isn’t that extreme. I do wonder, though, what that may take away from youth whose parents behave in a positive manner at games and see spectating their children as an opportunity to show support, offer encouragement,connect with other parents and build a sense of community, and have a shared experience with their child and others. I imagine the class discussion on this was great!

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