18 SES 15 A, Physical Activity and Sport in Higher Education
In international practice, the exploration of sports school systems is not widespread. The different sports schools and systems operate neither uniformly, nor following a consistent international trend. We have relevant knowledge for Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore and Sweden (Radtke & Coalter 2007). Given the different structure of educational systems in the countries, it is not surprising that there are differences in sport school activities as well. In some countries, sports schools are part of the national strategy while others operate as special schools, with local, flexible conditions and the goal of educating athletes apart from the national educational system. Regardless of the differences in the system, several key factors can be defined for each country such as the need for integrating young athletes into standard secondary schools for their own educational and social benefits, the creation of close working relationships with sports associations or the relative proximity to excellent sports centres (Kovács, 2020).
Regarding sports schools, research on health behaviour is crucial which contains not only health protective and preventive but dangerous elements as well. Risk-behaviour includes alcohol consumption and binge drinking, smoking, illegal substance use, physical fight, unhealthy diet, risky sexual behaviour and lack of physical activity. Furthermore, the different kind of health-damaging behaviours are not isolated but they affect the whole lifestyle (Kovács, 2019). Thus, it is necessary to highlight the difficult interaction between social and individual factors in regard to health behaviour (Hayden, 2014, Lester et al, 2012). These behaviours also are in connection with other risky behaviours as these people are more engaged in aggressive behaviour, promiscuity, driving after alcohol consumption, rule-breaking and have problems with self-control and impulsivity. Furthermore, a significantly important factor is the perceived and experienced stress which has huge effect not only on such psychological factors like perceived health status, emotional well-being, self-esteem and even depression but on the different kind of health-damaging behaviours as well as the prevalence of smoking, alcohol consumption and substance use is significantly higher among people with high stress level according to the results of the Hungarostudy 2013 which is relevant in regard to the job environment too (Székely et al, 2013).
Another essential area of can be found in sport commitment and persistence. Several children and young people are engaged in organised sport programs having a significant influence on physical and psychological well-being. However, it is also clear that high rates of dropout from sport can be observed in children and young people. Dropout rates in youth sports continue to be a major concern for sports leaders, coaches, and physical educators. Therefore, it is crucial to investigate the motives behind sport participation. Motivational theories share common features in the social-contextual factors (e.g., coaching style, learning climate) and interpersonal variables (e.g., perceived competence, perceived autonomy, self-regulation, general causality orientations) that are proposed to influence sport behaviour (Jõesaar et al., 2011, p. 500). As sport dropout is often attributed to a lack of motivation and self-regulatory skills understanding the motivational processes that lead to dropout from sport should be underlined (Weiss & Williams, 2004). The role of socio-economic factors has been emphasised, however, the role of the peers and institutional embeddedness is relatively underinvestigated. In a higher educational research, Pusztai et al (2018) claimed that strong embeddedness into the student relationship network does not strengthen the protecting role of the social relations. Moreover, the strong and multiplex embeddedness into the peer community increases the chance of the risk-behaviour significantly. So it can be stated that the close intragenerational relationship network of the students endangers the evolvement of the healthy lifestyle (Pusztai, 2016).
In our research we use the PERSIST 2019 database (N=2199). The research was a quantitative research carried out in higher education institutions in the Eastern- Hungary, as well as in higher education institutions in Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine and Serbia. The Hungarian sample (N=1034) is representative for the faculties, the field of training and the form of financing. Probability sampling was performed in cross-border institutions (N=1165). The sample consisted mainly of full-time second-year BA/BSc students and second- or third-year full-time students. As a first step, we created a sport persistence index that refers to successful sporting activities that began in the past and are still ongoing (winning sports scholarship, receiving extra points for university application due to sports performance, being a member of a sports club/association, ongoing participation in sporting activities). A coping and a confidence index in the HE institution were created as subjective health factors. Also, we interpreted satisfaction with the institution by five factors: (1) communication (2) free-time activities, (3) support, (4) teacher quality and (5) infrastructure. The sport frequency variable shows the regularity of the sport on a scale from 0 to 100. A practical sports embeddedness index was created by principal component analysis based on sport-related institutional data. Relationship covered the following: (1) intergenerational integration (teacher-student), (2) intragenerational integration (student-student in the institution), (3) intragenerational disintegration (student-student out of the institution), (4) practice-focused mixed peer orientation (both within and outside the university, main focus on joint leisure activities), (5) culture-focused mixed peer orientation (both within and outside the university, main focus on joint learning and culture). The aim of the research was to examine factors influencing sport persistence. By regression analysis, we involved the relevant variables in four models. As a first step, we involved the socio-economic factors, followed by health factors (coping, confidence, satisfaction). In the third step, sport-related factors (sport persistence, frequency and embeddedness, relationship networks) were involved and academic persistence was investigated in the last step. We hypothesised that (1) Gender and financial background has a positive impact on sport persistence, (2) Health-related variables have a positive impact on sport persistence (3) Disintegration and mixed relationship networks strengthen sport persistence, and (4) Academic persistence hinders sport persistence. The data were analysed in SPSS for Windows, version 22. To prove the hypotheses, regression analysis was used along with two-sample t-probes and ANOVAs.
The role of the gender is significant (β=0,153; p=0,001) as it has a positive effect on sport persistence. Thus, males can be described with higher level of sport persistence. The role of the training field was significant too, showing a positive impact (β=0,263; p<0,001). Therefore, those learning in sport-related training area can be described with significantly higher sport persistence. Regarding the health factors, the impact of alcohol consumption (β=0,073; p=0,048) and substance use in the past 30 days (β=0,072; p=0,04) showed a significant positive effect which probably refers to the peer-oriented common leisure time activities as stress reducing techniques. Not surprisingly, higher sport frequency causes higher sport persistence (β=0,622; p<0,001). Also, better coping mechanisms lead to significantly higher sport persistence (β=0,06; p=0,038). Practical sport embeddedness shows a significantly positive impact on sport persistence (β=0,149; p=0,001) which means that institution-related sports factors such as commitment to making sport-related programs or using the sports infrastructure of the university strengthens sport persistence. Concerning institutional networks, only the negative impact of culture-focused mixed peer orientation could have been detected (β=-0,063; p=0,045) while the other networks neither improve nor decrease sport persistence. Finally, the involvement of academic achievement factors pointed out that academic persistence does not influence sport persistence, however, objective academic achievement does have a positive impact (β=0,157; p<0,001). Thus, reaching good results during university studies can increase the commitment to sporting activities. However, the effect of the subjective academic achievement factors is not significant. The results highlight the importance of supporting sport persistence in HE context too. Supporting academic studies (and thus civil carrier) can maintain and improve sport persistence. Also, as the role of the socio-economic status is less important at this stage, it is worth strengthening sport-related institutional embeddedness as it also contributes to sport persistence.
Hayden, J. (2014). Introduction to Heath Behavior Theory. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Learning. Jõesaar, H., Hein, V., & Hagger, M. S. (2011). Peer influence on young athletes’ need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation and persistence in sport: A 12-month prospective study. Psychology of Sport and Exercise ,12, 500-508. Kovács K. E. (2019). The relationship between social structure and education in the system of sports schools. Journal of Social Research & Policy, 10(1), 27-35. Kovács K. E. (2020). Health and learning in educational sports schools [Egészség és tanulás a köznevelési típusú sportiskolákban]. Debrecen: CHERD-H. Lester. L., Cross, D., & Shaw, T (2012). Adolescent bully-victims: Social health and the transition to secondary school. Cambridge Journal of Education, 42(2), 213-233. Pusztai G. (2016). Az intézményi hatás és forrásai. In Pusztai G., Ceglédi T. & Bocsi V. (szerk.), Érték, amit az intézmény hozzáadott. Közelítések az intézményi hozzájárulás empirikus megragadásához [The value added by the institution. Approaches to the empirical interpretation of the institutional added value] (pp. 112-136). Nagyvárad-Debrecen: Partium Press, Új Mandátum Könyvkiadó. Pusztai G., Kovács K. E., Kovács K., & Nagy B. E. (2017). The effect of campus environment on students’ health behaviour in four Central European countries. Journal of Social Research & Policy, 8(1), 125-138. Radtke, S., & Coalter, F. (2007). Sports Schools: An international Review. Report to the Schottish Institute of Sport Fondation. Scotland, UK: University of Stirling. Székely A., Susánszky É., & Ádám Sz. (2013). Fiatalok kockázati magatartása. In L. Székely (Ed.), Magyar Ifjúság 2012. Tanulmánykötet (pp. 179-210). Budapest: Kutatópont. Weiss, M. R., & Williams, L. (2004). The why of young sport involvement: a developmental perspective on motivational processes. In M. R. Weiss (Ed.), Developmental sport and exercise psychology: A lifespan perspective (pp. 223-268). Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.
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