Recreation and Sport Studies

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

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The role of municipal park and recreation agencies in enacting coach and parent training in a loosely coupled youth sport system

By: C. Dykstra

Barcelona & Young (2010) speak to the identified need for municipal parks and recreation departments to accept their role in offering, managing and enforcing sport parent and coaching education and training. Though municipalities offer or support sport programming to 38M children nation wide (resources, leadership, program support or facility infrastructure) there are no standards set or enforcement for facilitators of youth sports programs with regards to coach training or parent education. Voluntary youth sport organizations (VSOs) cater to fewer participants, though they are still reliant on municipal recreation agencies for support (facilities and programmatic support) with approximately 70% of VSO programming being delivered through various affiliations with municipal recreation agencies.

Both municipalities and VSOs have identified the need for coach and parent training/education, though it has been identified that they are unable to offer this support for various reasons (lack of resources to administer, track and enforce sport training, lack of qualified personnel to serve as trainers, lack of budget to finance training).

I felt that the article accurately portrayed gaps within service delivery from a municipal perspective, though the findings to me indicated that further research should be conducted to get at the qualitative perspective of these gaps. Through qualitative research, researchers may be able to better bridge the gap between delivery systems and allow for opportunity to build organizational capacity, volunteerism and more succinct hiring practices of both paid and volunteer staff.

Furthermore, future research could be conducted around process and policies regarding hiring practices or partnership development to mitigate the strain on resources both human and capital between both sport and recreation delivery systems.

Thus, this leads to question of who should be taking education and training responsibilities for coaches and parents, municipalities or VSOs.

Questions raised:

1) Who should be responsible for the training and education in question? Why?

2) It was noted within the article that poor sportsmanship among parents was a significant problem within sport programming among municipal agencies.

  • What would be your first step in rectifying this issue?
  • Who are the key players in these steps?
  • What are the budget allocations?
  • How are decisions made?

3) Good leadership of youth sport involves adults – adults who for the most part are well intentioned, but often untrained in making administrative decisions about community based sport programs and as such, appropriate training is needed. What approach would you take to ensure that coaches were qualified to do their job (either VSO or municipal perspective)?

  • Background checks, prior experience, coach education, expert volunteers
  • Train the trainer model
  • Share resources such as facilities for training (bartering)

Like the Sharpe (2006) article discussed by Ries, there is a dependency on volunteers (generally parents), but these VSOs have the human capital; just not the expertise à Expert volunteerism is needed

4) As researchers, athletes, coaches and participants, what impact do you feel that qualified coaching has/had on your personal sporting experiences? Based on the information presented today, do you still feel that your first choice is still appropriate?

Aside from my municipality and my current research project; here is a great example of other communities beginning to bridge this gap through partnership, sharing the role of training and education. Though this community is in Ireland, the process and implementation are very similar to a Canadian or American context. Enjoy!


Barcelona, R.J. & Young, S.J. (2010). The role of municipal park and recreation agencies in enacting coach and parent training in a loosely coupled youth sport system. Managing Leisure, 15, 181-197.

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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.


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.


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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The Overprotected Kid

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

The article was written by a father and discusses how unstructured and unsupervised play can be important for children’s growth and development. What it means to be overprotected parent, how involved parents can be in their children’s lives and why children need to have unsupervised play and risk in their lives were all highlighted.

After reading the article, it made me realize that parents are often overprotective because of the media. Media coverage of selected tragic stories of children dying/ seriously injuring themselves (they were actually tragic) on playgrounds and companies got sued. No one could afford getting sued at this time so companies were trying to protect themselves, which led to parents protecting their children even more. Throughout the article, it is mentioned that the crime rate in many communities is lower then many people think; the country is safer then it ever has been and, it even suggests that kids are more likely to get kidnapped by a relative than a stranger.

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