Recreation and Sport Studies

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


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What to do about lack of Volunteers at Grassroots Recreation Organizations?

By: A. Ries

Erin Sharpe’s article, Resources at the Grassroots of Recreation (2006), explains that grassroots organizations have an enormous issue with getting the resources needed to provide recreation to the community. This is especially true when it comes to “manpower”. She explains that over 95% of work done at a grassroots organization is completed by volunteers and that over 75% of organizations don’t even have any paid staff. It is also mentioned that low funding can be a good thing for some organizations as it lets them operate how they want instead of how the funder wants (e.g. funder may want money to go towards a baseball league, but a basketball league is what the community wants). Furthermore, volunteer run organizations usually must rely on individuals with little or no managerial experience, unlike paid not-for-profit organizations.

From my personal experience in recreation, I can say that volunteers are a huge benefit to organizations, in particular to grassroots organizations since they are almost fully dependent on volunteers. Sharpe’s case study on the Appleton Minor Softball League saw that although the league was small and personable, with some players coming from out of town, the lack of funding, in turn because the league didn’t want to make money and only wanted to offer baseball for the players, had issues finding “secondary volunteers”, volunteers to fill extra roles. (snack standing, secondary coaching, site convener, newspaper, etc). Although not necessary to run the league, it would have helped the league run more effectively.

From this article I ask the question: “How can we entice parents, or others, to volunteer?”

What was surprising to me was that the class explained that some parents tend to be at every game, yet they do not volunteer to help out the league that their child, or children, participate in. When I was younger I competed in many competitions as a swimmer. Since my dad went to every meet with me, he decided to become an official as he would rather help run the competitions instead of sitting around for almost the entire competition waiting for my five to ten minutes of competing in an entire weekend.

Other articles, referenced below, have also raised the same issue. There are simply not enough individuals are volunteering to help run grassroots organizations. I believe that the recreation field needs to look more into how to convince citizens to volunteer more, or even to start volunteering.

References:

Sharpe, E. K. (2006). Resources at the Grassroots of Recreation: Organizational Capacity and Quality of Experience in a Community Sport Organization. Leisure Sciences, 28(4), 385-401. doi:10.1080/01490400600745894

Martha L., B., & Erin K., S. (2009). Looking Beyond Traditional Volunteer Management: A Case Study of an Alternative Approach to Volunteer Engagement in Parks and Recreation. Voluntas: International Journal Of Voluntary And Nonprofit Organizations, (2), 169.

Sharpe, E. (2003). “It’s not fun any more:” a case study of organizing a contemporary grassroots recreation association. Society & Leisure, 26(2), 431-452.


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Virtual Jocks and The Bearing Assumption of Perverting Youths Minds: Is What You and I do in our Spare Time a Frivolous Waste of Time?

In the last few years of my studies in Kinesiology, awareness of our society’s sedentary lifestyles has been the center of attention and for good reason. What interest me more within that context is the consecutive questions of what we are to do with video games as they are undoubtedly a contributor of people’s collective inactive decision making? Video games compete for young minds attention which most of us may believe could be more productively spent playing sports and experiencing the outdoors.  What I am here to state is that scapegoating video games to society’s inactivity is not the answer. I will go as far as to say that talking about technologies negatives is an irrelevant waste of time that only distracts us from problem solving. My goal is to provide reasoning to why believing video games are bad for our youth is wrong and how video games can serve us well in Sports and Recreation.

To set some context for my main point, a historical ground work will be laid in order to understand this problem in a truthful manner. For starters, scapegoating our problems to new innovations that occupy our leisure is nothing new and is in fact a common pattern that has been repeated throughout history. Video games are no stranger to oncoming barrages from parents and other important figures attacking the video game industry with hysterical claims that video games are perverting children’s minds. Jack Thompson and Anita Sarkesian are just a few anti-video gamers that come to my attention.

To get a look at the historical occurrences of how people have always been against new invention, let’s start by going back to approximately 430 BCE Athens Greece, home of the famous philosopher Plato.  During this time oral tradition was the most common form of learning and expressing ones thought; writing on rolls of parchment was also commonly practiced. Plato was against   poetry, literature, and the imaginative arts. In fact, Plato in many of his writings explicitly states his feelings of the written word and how it is perverting the youth.

This is what Plato had to say: “If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows (Plato).”

Now if we reflect on how important the written word is in our society, it is obvious that the technology of weaving parchment into a solid collection of written material is not a perversion, but an innovative tool that delights you and I. Academia and new innovations rely on books. The irony is that we have the luxury of reading some of Plato’s works because they were recorded in books.

During the 1500’s, English Puritans and political figures shunned theater, poetry, and other forms of art. People indeed thought that most forms of leisure were a perversion to people’s minds. Queen Elizabeth single handily whooped England’s economy back into shape because she lifted a ban of theater and poetry for her own personal consumption. Queen Elizabeth gave birth to William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spencer, and Francis Bacon (Spark Notes, 2005).

The Russian Chemist Mendeleev was an advent player of solitaire. His colleagues thought his hobby of solitaire was a frivolous waste of time. Mendeleev would then have an epiphany on how he would organize all the Atomic elements. Mendeleev took his useless hobby of solitaire and created the periodic table of elements which is used in every science class around the world (Eric, 2013). These three stories in history have one relevant pattern that relates to how older generations are perpetuating the idea that video games are perverting our youth today. You see, all throughout history people have always been resistant to new cultural innovations, yet these same innovations have given us so much in return for society’s who have frivolously consumed them.

Grace Hopper was involved in creating the first computer language compiler. She too was possessed by a bad habit of frivolously wasting time playing basketball. Only one problem, it wasn’t a time waster because the first functional computer language was inspired by Graces knowledge of basketball (Williams, 2012). Refer to the video of Howard Bloom for his work of compiling the history for this idea that video games do not pervert our youth (Bloom, 2013).

How about the real life ‘Irron Man’, Elon Musk who is reviving the electric car, building dragon capsules that go to the international space station and back to earth for reuse. He also is erecting the world’s largest battery factory in the US at this moment. Elon had his humble starts through video games. At the age of 12, Elon built his own video game system called Blaster. He sold this game, thus starting his career as an Engineer (Mary, 2014). These are proofs of the rewards of leisure and it is our duty to challenge people’s way of looking at these so called frivolous time wasters.

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Now let’s look into how video games are utilized by people involved in sports and other activities. Video games are virtual spaces in which we can experiment, visualize, enhance creativity in our learning, and to help us learn motor skills. An example of this display is the Israeli air cadets use a gaming system called Space Fortress II as a part of their training program in order to simulate flying air crafts. In a study on the Israeli flight students, those who did not train with the video game simulator scored worse on real world flight scenarios (Gopher, 1994).

Madden NFL has dominated the market since 1989 and is no stranger to athletes who play them and who are virtually represented in them. Although these games do not explicitly convey how sports video games can be educational, they do have a subtle component of transferability to real world sports. Some may say the learning experience from video games can be subliminal. Sport video games mimic real world scenarios, settings, strategy, play formations, conditions, game statistics, and more. Video games allow for risk taking experiments where real world sport environments might not be practical (Silberman, 2010).

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It is very common for modern athletes to incorporate video games in their lives as a tool or to escape from stresses of the perpetual beating of their bodies from competitive sport. Here are but a list of some professional athletes who play video games: Joes Johnson, Jozy Altidor, Jamaal Charles, David price, Usain Bolt, LeBron James, Adrian Peterson, Stephen Strasburg, Derrick Rose, Loic Remy, Marshawn Lynch, and Kevin Durant. A couple of athletes even stated that they took their video games on the road with them (Leli, 2014).

Now what I just provided is with the assumption that video games and sports are divided as two separate entities. The reality is that video games have risen to the capacity and as a center piece of modern culture that it is now classified as a sport, or more formally referred to as e-sports. E- sports are serious organized events that draw crowds, award elaborate victory cups, and give away mass amounts of prize money. Dota 2 in particular gave out $24 million in prize money while League of Legends compiled 2566 players for tournaments (E-sport Earnings, 2015). In the year 2014, more people watched the League of Legends championship than the total viewership of the Stanley Cup (CBC, 2015).

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With the given capacity of video game popularity, speculation has been going around by gaming figures such as Rob Pardo that video games could possibly be an Olympic sport if people are open minded to the possibility (Fitzpatrick, 2014).

What is more, Toronto city is seeing an emergence of video game culture like nowhere else. A group of Waterloo graduates are opening a bar in Toronto that will be dedicated to the e-sports sports community. This throws a wrench in the original concept of pubs being dedicated to sport spectators and pub games like darts or pool (Ngabo, 2015).

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Also, video game culture has an alluring feature of inclusivity. For example, in an online gaming community, one can often experience a live forum between people of all ages, sexes, and ethnicities. The common norms of face to face interactions are often flipped on its head in these video game forums. Children are typically limited to their social contributions because of the presence of authority figures; gaming forums lift the limiter on children as they can be seen to outperform and engage in petty squabbles with older peers on an equal playing field. This is the type of freedom that organized sports cannot always promise younger populations. Even people with disabilities are often times not limited in their capacity to fully immerse themselves in a video game environment as equals and with no attention drawn to their condition.

Video games happen to be prosocial, which is Contrary to common stigma. 76% of teen gamers play games with other people in some way, while 1/10 gamers’ are members of a gaming website community (Amanda, 2009).

Despite this, certain societal opinions still frown upon video games as a viable leisure option, let alone a sport. Through analysis of a video game forum, the community reveals some interesting perspectives on how the gaming community feels on the topic of sports and the place video games have in sports. Some people were for having the gaming community declared a sport; others were against calling video gaming a sport. Here is an interesting excerpt from a gaming forum: “Because of stereotypes. Physical ability has often tied with attractiveness. Gaming has often been tied with the opposite (League of Legends, 2013).”

This idea of e-sports not having legitimacy based on its lack of sexy qualities in the general public eye is nothing new and shows some stark similarities to the decline in popularity of fringe leisure such as ‘blood sports’ (give or take a few details on the animal cruelty and inhumane practices). ‘Blood sport’ is generally known for promoting idleness and decline in social discipline. The fringe groups that ‘blood sport’ created was, and still is not attractive toward wide public consensus on account that these events take place in dreary basements, back alleys, and attract unemployed thugs with crooked noses and a bad case of cauliflower ear (Bennet, 1981)This is not much different than the common stereotype in popular culture that gamers are idle losers or ‘basement dwellers’, which unfairly casts a broad stigma on the gaming community.

As from what was stated previously, one can conclude that video games are not a perversion or a waste of time. To say otherwise is not only wrong, but ignorant. As Far as I see it, scapegoating problems on video games is a regressive historical argument that has accomplished nothing. In truth, as a group who passionately hold a stake in youth being physically active, we should be quite inspired by the gumption that the video game industry has in exalting youth.

What do you think? Are video games perverting the youth? Are they holding us back from living healthier lives? Are they turning our youth idle and rotting their brains? Perhaps sports and recreation organizations are not meeting the markets demand? Or perhaps video games are completely irrelevant?

Feel free to comment below.

 Citations

Amanda, L. et al. (2008). Teens, Video Games, and Civics: Teens’ gaming experiences are diverse and include significant social interaction and civic engagement. Pew Internet & American Life Project: Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED525058.pdf

Bennet, T. et al. (1981).Popular Culture: Past and Present. Routledge. 21-27

Bloom, H. (2013). Youtube. Are the PS4 & the Xbox Curses or Gifts?. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTJeQS6wm88

CBC Radio. (2015). Are E-Sports poised to be more popular than hockey?. Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/q/blog/2015/01/12/e-sports-going-mainstream/

Eric, S. (2013). Oxford University Press’s Academic Insights for the Thinking World. How exactly did Mendeleev discover his periodic table of 1869? Retrieved from: http://blog.oup.com/2012/08/how-exactly-did-mendeleev-discover-his-periodic-table-of-1869/

E-sport Earnings. (2015). Top 50 Games Awarding Prize Money. Retrieved from: http://www.esportsearnings.com/games

Fitzpatrick, A. (2014). 4 Video Games That Could Be Olympic Sports. TIME. Retrieved from: http://time.com/3646714/video-games-olympics/

Gopher, D. (1994). Transfer of Skill from a Computer Game Trainer to Flight. Human Factors, 36(3), p.387-405.

Williams, K. (2012). Grace Hopper: Admiral of the Cyber Sea. Pg. 78. Naval Institute Press. Retrieved from: https://books.google.ca/books?id=KKmiw-_2gYIC&pg=PA78&lpg=PA78&dq=grace+hopper+basketball&source=bl&ots=gNbWLaw49l&sig=ROXONzMTkwaBfO7fFqixFzS47po&hl=en&sa=X&ei=sJ-0VPPmM6rdsAT82oDQAw&ved=0CFwQ6AEwDw#v=onepage&q=grace%20hopper%20basketball&f=false

League of Legends. (2013). General Discussion: Welcome to The Forum Archive! Why People Hate E-Sports so Much. Retrieved from: http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=3108809

Leli, T. (2014). 15 Pro Athletes Who Are Obsessed With Video Games. Rant Sports. Retrieved from: http://www.rantsports.com/clubhouse/2014/01/31/15-pro-athletes-who-are-obsessed-with-video-games/#slide_16

Mary, B. (2014). About Money. Elon Musk. Retrieved from: http://inventors.about.com/od/mstartinventions/p/Elon-Musk.htm

Ngabo, G. (2015). Toronto bar to mix e-sports, booze, ‘atmosphere’. Metro News. Retrieved from: http://metronews.ca/news/toronto/1297499/toronto-bar-to-mix-e-sports-booze-atmosphere/

Plato. Retrieved from: http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/wordscape/museum/plato.html

SparkNotes Editors. (2005). SparkNote on Queen Elizabeth I. Retrieved from: from http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/elizabeth/

Silberman, L. (2010). Double Play: Athletes use of Sport Video Games to Enhance Athletic Performance. Retrieved from: http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/59733/670238302.pdf?sequence=1


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Physical Literacy – Urban vs. Rural Areas

Physical literacy in urban and rural areas should be significantly different, but it mostly depends on your family and your neighborhood. As we all know, physical literacy is the mastering of fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills that permit a child to read their environment and make appropriate decisions, allowing them to move confidently and with control in a wide range of physical activity situations (Mandigo, Francis, Lodewyk & Lopez, 2009). Many people suggest that physical literacy “just happens” in child development. This is only true in certain children who are raised in environments where physical activity is encouraged but is also a way of life. On the other hand, some children are raised in more dangerous environments where free physical activity is not encouraged, in order to stay safe. Physical literacy can be developed through a sport or activity, or acquired through the movements that you are comfortable with naturally.

Screen time is becoming the first choice for many, so this means there are less physically literate youth today in both rural and urban areas. For all children, it seems that their parents want what is “safest” for them, so they could end up just putting them in front of a screen to keep them occupied instead of sending them outside to play with friends. Recesses are becoming shorter and physical education classes are no longer mandatory in every school.

Initially, we assumed that there was a cut and dry difference between rural and urban physical literacy, but we found out they were pretty similar. When looking at rural communities, they could have smaller opportunities for recreation and sport activities, or longer commutes to participate in activities (especially if they live in really small areas). On the other hand, some rural communities have loads of recreational activities and yard space so the kids can start working on fundamental movements at a young age. Most of the time, rural town residents are able to walk most places they need to go. When looking at urban communities, there could be an outstanding number of recreational and sporting activities, but more competition. Individuals in this area may have to drive to most of the places they go, which means they will not spend as much time outside.

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KIN 6300 – A Discussion on a Discussion Paper! Towards a National Recreation Agenda

So this is my first ever blog. Buckle up kiddos, here we go!

The topic of discussion is coincidently a discussion paper. Towards a National Recreation Agenda: Working Together to Foster, Healthy Flourishing, and Sustainable Individuals, Communities and EnvironmentA bit of a mouthful, but don’t let that intimidate you – it’s definitely a read that anyone and everyone can relate to in one way or another.

Firstly, what is recreation? It’s when you play sports or get sweaty doing something, right? No. As discussed in our Kin 6300 class, recreation has the good or bad rep (depending on how you look at it) of being associated with playing sports or working out. Recreation is a giant umbrella with various activities under it, that don’t always have to be physical. The definition of public recreation in Canada given in the discussion paper states “recreation includes all those activities in which an individual chooses to participate, and includes sports, physical recreation programs, artistic and creative expressions, social and intellectual activities. Recreation is a fundamental human need and right and is essential to the psychological, social and well-being of each Canadian” (National Recreation Agenda Working Group, 2013). Now that I’ve obviously made a connection to every individual in this vast country, feel free to read on.

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As a graduating undergraduate in RSS, an article I would recommend reading is:

Slater, S.J., Nicholson, L., Chriqui, J., Barker, D.C., Chaloupka, F.J., & Johnson, L.D. (2013). Walkable Communities and Adolescent Weight. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 44(2), 164-168.

As recreation and sport studies professionals, it is our responsibility to provide members of the community with the tools to succeed at living a healthy and active lifestyle. With this being said, you might be wondering what exactly those tools are and if they really make a difference.

The article “Walkable Communities and Adolescent Weight” looks at the built environment and the effects it has on the people who live there. Some of the aspects many of us might take for granted are considered to be powerful indicators of health in many communities, especially areas of low income. These tools are safe sidewalks, traffic lights, marked crosswalks, bike lanes, and walking trails.

The research shows that high school students who live in communities where their ability to walk (instead of drive) is limited, show higher levels of overweight and obesity. The research also shows that the communities with higher levels of walkability, have lower levels of overweight and obesity. This evidence suggests that by including even some of the above-mentioned aspects, such as a walkable sidewalk, the community may benefit.

So… what do you think? How walkable is your neighborhood?

by Molly MacDonald