Study examines coaches' gamesmanship

August 30, 2013, North Dakota State University

A new study by an NDSU faculty member gives important insight into the ethics of high school coaches in North Dakota.

The study, "Gamesmanship Beliefs of High School Coaches," by Brad Strand, professor of health, nutrition and exercise sciences, recently was published in the International Journal of Research in Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance.

Strand surveyed 256 coaches from across the state on 25 different scenarios dealing with gamesmanship, which is defined as the art or practice of winning games by questionable means without actually breaking the rules.

On one end of the scale, fewer than 1 percent of coaches feel it is acceptable to use profanity to motivate a player; for bench players to boo, taunt or jeer opponents; for a player to do a showboat dance after scoring; or to attack a pre-existing injury of the other team's top player.

"Coaches in North Dakota are well prepared and are very ethical. They are trying to do the right thing for the boys and girls they work with. There's an example here and there of someone who crosses the line, but the results suggest this does not happen much," Strand said. "Having watched high school coaches in North Dakota, you don't see a lot of unethical gamesmanship action. The results support what I thought of our coaches."

Some questionable situations had some support among coaches. For instance, 23.3 percent said it is acceptable for a hockey coach to send in a player to intimidate opponents and protect his teammates. A total of 14.5 percent said it is acceptable to have a groundskeeper soak the field in an effort to slow down an opposing .

Scenarios dealing with decisions of or umpires are more challenging. Nearly half, 48.8 percent, said it was acceptable in volleyball to take the winning point even though a player touched the ball before it went out and the referee missed the call.

"There is conundrum of what we believe we should be doing and what actually happens when we get in the heat of battle. But, I think North Dakota coaches are above board in most of their actions," Strand said, noting the pressure to win can be a factor. "On paper, they can say a certain action is unacceptable, but it can be different when the game is on the line."

An earlier study by Strand looked at gamesmanship attitudes of athletes. "There was a statistically significant difference to almost every one of the questions. The athletes believe many of the actions dealing with gamesmanship were much more acceptable than the coaches do," he said.

Strand suggests those differences show the significance of education and appropriate training for coaches.

"It's important that we teach young coaches how to build character in their athletes. We need to help prepare boys and girls for a lifetime of good character," Strand said. "The results of this study support that belief."

Explore further: High school athletes take lead from coaches in reporting concussive symptoms, study finds

Related Stories

High school athletes take lead from coaches in reporting concussive symptoms, study finds

January 17, 2013
In a recent study, UW researchers sought to understand why high school athletes do not report concussive symptoms. The researchers conducted focus groups with 50 male and female Seattle-area varsity athletes from a variety ...

Focus on self-improvement, rather than winning, benefits young athletes

February 9, 2012
Underserved youth athletes report more life skill and character development when their coaches place greater emphasis on creating caring climates instead of focusing on competition, according to research from Michigan State ...

Disabled athletes face segregation in coaching researchers say

September 3, 2012
Researchers from our Department of Education say attitudes in coaching towards disabled people need to change in order for more people to engage in sport.

Coaching Boys into Men program proves effective in preventing teen dating violence, follow-up study finds

May 1, 2013
Coaching Boys into Men (CBIM), a program that seeks to reduce dating violence and sexual assault, is proven effective to reduce abusive behaviors among male athletes toward their female partners, according to a study that ...

Recommended for you

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.