Individual Research Proposal
- Sport has a relevance and importance that moves beyond the obvious features of sporting activity. Naturally, a whole host of possible benefits can be derived from undertaking sporting activity. Indeed, health and physical well being rank highly in the positive outcomes that sport can deliver. However, sport has an important role to play on a variety of others levels. For example, in recent years there has been a variety of literature and political focus which has highlighted the role sport can play in youth development (Holt, 2007). The issue of youth development is of continued concern to both social academics and political forces alike. The focus of such concern invariably tends to be placed on the negative impact low levels of youth development can have not only on the individual, but also wider society. Indeed, it is not uncommon to hear concerted suggestions that modern youth fail to undertake adequate levels of social responsibility and are ever inclined towards anti social type behaviour. Therefore, effectively countering the processes which lead to poor youth development has been a continued preoccupation for academics and policy makers for many years now (Holt, 2007).
- It has been widely documented that education in general has a pivotal role to play in ensuring effective and constructive development among young people. However, beyond the confines of traditional structured education, the importance of sport as a method of combating poor development on a variety of levels is something which has achieved increasing focus. Above all, sporting activity can play a positive role in youth development in a whole host of ways, including personal development in terms of issues such as self respect, motivation and desire for success, along with increased personal confidence (Gatz et al, 2002). However, participation with others in sporting activities leads to wider benefits such as increased knowledge of working in collaboration with others, along with various other benefits brought about as a result of involvement in team based sporting activities (Poinsett, 1996). Thus, at the outset it is important to highlight the degree to which sport is now regarded in many varied quarters as an essential component in effective youth development.
- Research Aims and Objectives
2.1 The research aims and objectives are placed firmly within the wider theoretical assumptions on which sport and youth development are based. However, in order to achieve increased levels of academic soundness and allow for focused research to be undertaken, it will be necessary to confine detailed research to specific areas.
2.2 The research will therefore focus on sport development in young people between the ages of 11 and 21. The reasons which account for this focus are explored further in the methodology section below.
2.3 Research processes and methods will be directed by the overall objective of examining the increasingly prevalent relationship between youth development and sport. Thus, the degree to which these two variables interact will be a consistent feature of analysis. As such, the research will be directed at a number of areas where these two variables form essential relationships in terms of individual outcomes and wider social effects.
- Research Questions
3.1 Naturally, the research which will be undertaken will be based heavily on the research aims and objectives outlined above. However, in order to achieve contextual precision in the research it is necessary to outline a clear set of questions which the study will aim to explore. Therefore, the basic research questions on which the overall study will be based are as follows;
- In what ways do sport and youth development interact?
- In what ways is sport able to enhance youth development?
- To what degree does increased youth participation in sport reduce the possibilities of encountering social difficulties and behavioural problems?
4.1 In terms of methodological approach, it will be necessary to direct the research process at a specific youth age group. As such, the research will focus on the period of adolescence. The adolescent period in young people is generally viewed as being anywhere from the age of 11 up to 21. Further categorisation does occur with the split between early (11-14 years), middle (15-18 years) and late (18-21 years) (Holt, 2007). The research undertaken will assume a position which undertakes analysis on the basis of all these periods. Although it is sometimes possible to outline different processes with regards to different adolescent periods, it is generally possible to carry out detailed research which encapsulates the entirety of adolescence. Thus, in this sense the research will adopt a broad basis of analysis.
4.2 The primary methods will utilise desktop research processes. However, the use of secondary research material will figure prominently in the research technique. The general subject under discussion has been covered in significant detail by numerous academic authorities, therefore in order to gain a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the subject matter it will naturally be necessary to examine such source material. Secondary source material will generally be attained from books written on the subject. However where relevant and necessary, journal articles will also be used in the desktop research process.
4.3 Although secondary source material derived from books will represent the primary method through which research is undertaken, it will also be necessary to utilise primary source material. In particular, given that some areas of the research require analysis of policy actions and implementation then the use of central government publications will be required. In addition, other local governmental organisations also play an important role in sport provision and development for young people. Therefore, publications of this kind will be utilised when they are available and also any information that is derived from the websites of such sources.
4.4 The use of the above research methods is justifiable for a number of reasons. Firstly, secondary source material represents a key component in the process of ascertaining detailed and comprehensive information on the subject of sport and development in young people (Gatz et al, 2002). Therefore, the use of such material is vital to gain an effective understanding of the general subject matter. Moreover, given that much of the wider research will utilise government sources, then the use of secondary book material will place such research within the required academic context. Thus, using such methods it will be possible to conceptualise present policy moves on a broader theoretical and historical foundation.
4.5 Both primary and secondary source material will be used on a fashion which utilises both quantitative and qualitative approaches. However, given the theoretical basis on which the subject area rests, the primary methodological approach will focus on qualitative evidence and assertions. However, although the use of quantitative methods will be less than those of qualitative techniques, the utilisation of data evidence to support qualitative assertions will be important. Naturally, due care and attention will be paid to issues pertaining to bias and impartiality in qualitative assessments (Dawson, 2002). Such concerns will be taken into account with regards to secondary academic material. However, issues such as these will figure prominently in the examination of government based material and also that derived from nongovernmental organisations. Indeed, given the political concerns which can often be found in government literature it is vital that this area of research investigation is carried out on a basis which takes account for such concerns and the impact it has on the literature itself (Dawson, 2002).
4.6 The research project will also be enhanced as a result of active empiricism. This empiricism will take the form of a questionnaire aimed to highlight the interaction between sport and social exclusion. The questionnaire will conform to the best traditions of social scientific investigation.
- Literature Review
5.1 In order to carry out the research aims and objectives a variety of literature will be utilised. Naturally, given the encompassing nature of the research aims then a significant amount of different literature will be used. As such, in this literature review the focus will be placed on the most prominent literature which will act as the foundation for further research.
5.2 Holt (2007) has offered a detailed and comprehensive appraisal of the subject areas around sport and youth development. In particular, considerable time is dedicated to assessing the concept of positive youth development (PYD). PYD has developed over recent decades to become an integral component in both the theoretical assessment of sport based youth development and also practical application. Holt (2007) also outlines how PYD is increasingly viewed as possible through the use of sport related activities. The building of confidence and team work is essential to effective PYD, and sport achieves notably success in instilling both these essential components. Furthermore, Holt (2007; p.1) outlines the manner in which PYD conceptualises youth as being “a resource to be developed rather than a problem to be solved”. Therefore, effective PYD in sport represents a “strength based conception of development (Holt, 2007; p. 1). Thus, given that undertaking sporting activities requires a measure of proactive effort on the part of the individual, it is clear how sport and effective PYD work in conjunction and indeed complement each other.
5.3 Overall, Holt (2007) provides a good general study of the positive role sport can play in youth development. However, a number of other effective book based studies assume a similar broad approach to the subject area and therefore require mention. These include Perkins (2007), Poinsett (1996), Gatz et al (2002) and Adams & Berzonsky (2005).
5.4 Weinberg & Gould (2007) has detailed a number of important issues which are vital to the research questions outlined above. In particular, through the use of various other primary and secondary source materials, Weinberg & Gould (2007) suggest that there is a clear and direct link between youth sport and youth behaviour. Firstly, the assertion is made that partaking in sport results in better levels of behaviour among young people. This suggestion is supported by a number of theoretical reasons. For example, firstly sport is a motivational force for young people. Secondly, taking part in sporting activities requires that the individual dedicate considerable time and effort to the endeavour, often over a relatively long time period. Finally, given that sport often involves losing to an opponent, then undertaking such activity allows young people to gain the necessary experience to overcome difficulty and adversity without recourse to negative methods (Weinberg & Gould, 2007). In addition, Weinberg & Gould (2007) have detailed through the use of various literatures that there is a direct link between participation in sport and the reduced likelihood of delinquency. This assertion is further supported by data based evidence. Moreover, it is suggested that “participants in organised sport are less likely than nonparticipants to engage in delinquent behaviour” (Weinberg & Gould, 2007; p. 558). Thus, the theoretical and practical assumptions which Weinberg & Gould (2007) have asserted are particularly useful in exemplifying the major research objectives, aims and questions outlined above.
5.5 Although book based secondary material forms the essential method through which active research will be undertaken to meet the aims and objectives, certain journal articles will also be used. Such articles are beneficial as they tend to focus on a specific issue in particular. For example, Perkins & Noam (2007) have offered a comprehensive assessment of the characteristics of sport based development programmes in the United States. The use of such cross cultural examination will therefore be able to compare British polices with those of the United States.
5.6 The actions of central government in relation to increasing levels of youth participation in sport generally centre on the Children’s Act 2004 (DCMS; 2010). However, it is local authorities which are charged with the implementation of directions contained within the legislation. Therefore, although government sources such as the Department for Culture Media and Sport are hugely beneficial for outlining overall policy in this area, local government actors are also of significant importance. These include measures such as the “Youth Development Strategy” as outlined by the Vale of White Horse District Council (Vale of White Horse District Council, 2009; [online]). Using the plethora of material provided by this specific local authority highlights the degree to which sport assumes an important component of strategy towards young people in general. Also, such sources exemplify the role of sport in ensuring that behavioural problems among young people are combated in a proactive way which empowers the individual young person and places them at the centre of analysis.
- Justification and Significance of Research
6.1 The above discussions and examinations undertaken in the literature review highlight the degree to which sport and youth development is an increasingly important area of study in academic discourse. Moreover, government activity with regards to this issue exemplifies the degree to which sport forms an integral component of overall policy prescriptions in relation to young people. As such, the prevalence of material from both academic and government sources personifies the significance of the present research.
6.2 The research which has been outlined above is justifiable because it forges a clear link between sport and youth development. Given that future sporting success is reliant upon increased participation then the research is justifiable in pure sporting terms. However, the research is also justifiable because it shows the importance sport has for wider social concerns. Thus, by highlighting the positive role sport can play in the development of young people it may be possible to increase the funding allocations given by central and local government to sporting projects both at a national and local level.
- Possible Limitations of the Study
7.1 Given that the general research area under investigation is very broad in nature, the present study will suffer from a number of limitations. Firstly, the absence of empirical investigation as outlined earlier does result in limited research possibilities. However, it is better to exclude such research endeavours than to include unsatisfactory ones (Dawson, 2002).
7.2 Also, as the research study being undertaken aims to encapsulate the whole process of sport and youth development throughout adolescence. Therefore, it will not be possible to focus in detail on the differences and disparities which occur between different age groups in adolescence. As suggested above, this does not necessarily pose a serious problem for the present study, however, detailed investigation into such variations would naturally enhance the research process overall.
7.3 It was suggested above that through the use of the various sources and studies available it will be possible to briefly draw comparisons between sport and youth development in the United States and Britain. One limitation will be that it will not be possible to undertake such investigation in relation to other countries as this would broaden the research foundations too far. However, was it possible, such further comparisons would certainly exemplify the essential assertions and suppositions made in the research to a greater extent.
Adams, G.R & Beronsky, M.D (2005) Blackwell Handbook of Adolescence. London: Wiley-Blackwell.
Bramham, P & Hylton, K (2007) Sport Development: policy, process and practice. London: Taylor & Francis.
Collins, M.F & Kay, T (2003) Sport and Social Exclusion. London: Routledge.
Dawson, C (2002) Practical Research Methods: a user friendly guide to mastering research techniques and projects. London: How To Books.
DCMS (2010) ‘Sport’, Department for Culture, Media and Sport’, [online], cited 12/01/10, available at; https://www.gov.uk/ .
Gatz, M; Messner, M.A; Ball-Rokeach, S.J (2002) Paradoxes of Youth and Sport. London: Suny Press.
Holt, N.L (2007) Positive Youth Development in Sport. London: Routledge.
Perkins, D.F (2007) Sports Based Youth Development. New York: Wiley.
Perkins, D.F & Noam, G.G (2007) ‘Characteristics of Sports Based Youth Development Programmes’, New Directions for Youth Development, 115, pp. 75-84.
Poinsett, A (1996) Role of Sports in Youth Development. London: Diane Pub & Co.
Sport Development Info (2011) ‘Sports Development in the United Kingdom’, Sport Development Info, [online]m cited, 12/01/10, available at; http://www.sportdevelopment.info/.
Vale of White Horse District Council (2009) ‘Youth Development Strategy’, Vale of White Horse District Council, [online], cited, 12/01/10, available at; http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/
Weinberg, R.S & Gould, D (2007) Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology. New York: Human Kinetics.
Successfully completing the project will be dependent on a number of issues and factors. Firstly, given that the subject area has been the focus of significant academic endeavour then it is essential that the research process takes adequate account of the plethora of information which presently exists. As such, a significant amount of secondary source material will need to be examined in a way which gives a comprehensive overview of the subject. Effectively ensuring that a variety of source material is used is therefore important, however it may be that using too many sources will complicate the issue and the research study in general. Moreover, focusing on research sources which are more effective will also be critical to the success of the project.
Furthermore, effective time management on my part will be critical to ensuring that project is successful. It will important that I avoid procrastination and ensure that research is undertaken in the necessary areas. Also, it is critical that I make sure all notes made during the research process are clearly outlined and marked from the sources from which they came. Indeed, in order to avoid any issues pertaining to plagiarism it is vital that I detail all the sources used and the specific ideas/concepts which I derived from each.
As suggested in the report, when using government sources I must take care to ensure that issues such as impartiality are fully considered. However, I reiterate this issue once again, along factors pertaining to the use of quantitative and qualitative research techniques. As a sports student I have not been accustomed to using detailed social science research methods. I believe that I am capable of doing so; however, it will require that I give special focus and attention to such issues.
In my final year I hope to complete a detailed piece of research which gains a good mark. However, in addition to achieving a good grade I have a genuine interest in the research subject in question. Ensuing greater participation of young people in sport is essential for a whole host of reasons. However, by undertaking the study next year I hope to exemplify the degree to which sport has a role to play in the development of young people. Given that behavioural problems among young people is an issue of ever increasing concern, I hope that my study will highlight the positive role sport can play in this regard. Moreover, by achieving greater understanding of the developmental role sport can play in young people, I will inevitably equip myself with a sound foundation of theoretical knowledge on the subject. Therefore, completing the study next year will allow me to develop the necessary academic knowledge which I can then relate to practice after I graduate. Above all, I aim to undertake a career in which I assume an active role in sporting provision for young people. Therefore, it is my hope that I will be able to combine theory and practice in a way which not only benefits me but also the people I work with in the future.