Groundbreaking Research On What U.S. Sport Means

Athletes have a responsibility to be positive role-models for young people.

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From: Running

Athletes have a responsibility to be positive role-models for young people.

COLORADO SPRINGS – The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), in early March 2011, announced the findings of a groundbreaking research study, designed to measure Americans’ attitudes and beliefs about sport and the impact sport has on values and culture in America. According to the study, “What Sport Means in America: A Study of Sport’s Role in Society”, sports play a major role in shaping the character and culture of America’s citizens.

Overwhelmingly, Americans have high hopes and expectations for sport and rank values including honesty, fair play, respect for others and teamwork as most important for sport to reinforce. The research also reveals that Americans believe an overemphasis is placed on winning, and that this undermines the fundamental values they want from sport. Americans believe ethical breaches such as the desire to win at all costs and cheating with performance-enhancing drugs seriously threatens the inherent value of sport.

“This research reinforces, that Americans care about the integrity of sport and what it means in our society,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart. “Americans see great value in sport and want to preserve the legacy it has created, while ensuring its constructive and positive impact on all generations. Research such as this provides an important foundation for all of us who love and value sport to ensure its lasting legacy as a force for good.”

Some of the other major findings include:

* Parents overwhelmingly cite personal and social values when describing their hopes for their children in playing sport.

* Nearly 90% of U.S. adults agree that well-known athletes have a responsibility to be positive role models for young people, and by wide margins agree that the personal conduct of well-known athletes is as important as their athletic accomplishments.

* Coaches rank as the #1 positive influence on today’s youth involved in sport.

* Americans rank the use of performance-enhancing drugs as the most serious problem facing sport today, closely followed by issues such as the focus on money, and the criminal behavior of well-known athletes.

* Two-thirds of Americans agree that sport overemphasizes the importance of winning.

* More than three-fifths of U.S. adults- approximately 162 million people- claim some relationship to sport-related activities.

The survey was conducted by Discovery Education under its national research arm and commissioned by USADA. The study’s purpose is to understand: the values sport should reinforce versus those it actually does, beliefs about issues / challenges facing sport today, participation levels in sport nationally, why people begin playing and why they stop, what drives the pressure to cheat, the impact of the emphasis on winning, the responsibility sport figures have as role models, and whether sport is meeting society’s expectations. The research will appear in the April issue of the Journal of Coaching Education.