• Becoming part of the team: Female student athletes’ engagement in initiation activities.

      Lafferty, Moira E.; Wakefield, Caroline; University of Chester; Liverpool Hope University (Human Kinetics, 2018-06)
      The aim of the present research was to explore female student athletes’ participation in initiation activities specifically to examining whether activities in the United Kingdom followed similar trends to those reported elsewhere. A sample of eight female athletes, representing both traditional and non-traditional team and individual sports (M age = 20 years 3 months, SD = 1 year 3 months) who met inclusion criteria of having taken part in an initiation ceremony consented to participate in a semi structured interview. Thematic content analysis resulted in the emergence of six higher order themes represented by two general dimensions, the initiation event and initiation outcomes. Findings indicated that female student athletes’ initiation activities encompassed discrete stages as they moved from team newcomer to accepted team member. Of particular concern is the direct and indirect role of alcohol within these events and the health and behavioural risks.
    • An exploration of male student athletes’ engagement in initiation activities.

      Lafferty, Moira E.; Wakefield, Caroline; University of Chester; Liverpool Hope University (Taylor and Francis, 2017-11-14)
      Despite a zero tolerance approach by the National Union of Students, British Universities and Colleges Sport, and higher education institutions initiation ceremonies still take place as a means of welcoming new members to sporting teams (Lafferty et al. 2016, International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology). With the majority of research focused on North American and Canadian sport relatively little is known about initiation activities in a United Kingdom context, or why athletes engage in such behaviours. Waldron and Kowalski (2009, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 80, 291-302) have suggested that engagement could be explained by over conformity to two elements of the sport ethic model (Hughes and Coakley, 1991, Sociology of Sport Journal, 8, 307-325), namely making sacrifices and striving for distinction. Therefore, the aim of the present research was to examine the nature of initiation activities in male university sport players and explore whether emergent themes mapped to the sport ethic model. Following institutional ethical approval information advertising the study was sent to sporting societies at several higher education institutions. Athletes who met the inclusion criteria of having participated in an initiation ceremony were invited to contact the research team. This random purposeful sampling approach (Patton, 2002, Qualitative evaluation and research methods (3rd Ed.).California: Sage) resulted in a participant sample of 19 male athletes (mean age: 20.4 ± 1.5 years) representing a range of sports. After giving informed consent each athlete participated in a semi-structured interview lasting between 35 -50 min. All interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed through a two phase procedure of data organization and interpretation following established thematic analysis guidelines (Braun and Clarke, 2006, Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101). Results were captured within two dimensions, the initiation and outcomes representing 6 and 2 themes respectively. Within these dimensions emerging themes of the group structure and hierarchy, shared experiences, coercion, initiation challenges, health risk behaviours through alcohol consumption, and feelings of being a team member mapped to the four areas of the sport ethic model in contrast to the work of Waldron and Kowalski (2009). These findings suggest that there are both similarities and differences in initiation activity engagement of UK student athletes compared to the United States. Furthermore, the highlighted differences in over conformity to the sport ethic model suggest that intervention development to deter participation in initiation activities should be context and culturally specific.
    • “For the love of the game”: The hidden mental health consequences of sport teams’ initiations

      Lafferty, Moira E.; Wakefield, Caroline; Ryan, David; University of Chester, Liverpool Hope (British Psychological Society, 2017)
      Abstract: Objectives: Initiations events, often referred to as welcome activities, are commonplace traditions in many sports teams. The short and long-term impact on the mental health of initiates, initiators and bystanders has been a focus of recent research attention. The present study aimed to explore the initiation experiences of UK student athletes and the subsequent effect on well-being. Design: Cross-sectional qualitative design using retrospective interviews. Methods: Sixteen sport team members were recruited through purposive sampling. Semi-structured interviews were conducted exploring participant experiences of welcome activities in their university sport teams. Results were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Six themes emerged from the data. These were: rite of passage; challenges; rules; reputation; persuasion and hierarchy. These themes were mapped onto the non-relational maltreatment conceptual framework that includes physical, social and emotional elements of bullying. In contrast to U.S. based studies, the results indicated that social bullying was the most prevalent, followed by emotional, and finally physical bullying. Conclusions: The study highlighted the occurrence of physical, social and emotional bullying during the initiation activities of sports’ teams. Furthermore, reference was made to the natural time progression in university sport that perpetuates the cycle of bullying and establishes the initiates as future initiators. For initiates who successfully negotiate the events, the effects of the bullying are minimised. However, for some this bullying can have serious mental health impacts both in the short and long term, whilst the challenges and risk behaviours may threaten the broader well-being of all involved.
    • ‘We do it for the team’ - Student athletes’ initiation practices and their impact on group cohesion.

      Lafferty, Moira E.; Wakefield, Caroline; Brown, Hollie; University of Chester, Liverpool Hope University, Napier University (Taylor & Francis, 2016-01-05)
      Hazing, or inappropriate initiation activities, are a well-documented occurrence within university sport team societies. This study examined the occurrence of initiation activities in relation to team cohesion. 154 participants completed the Group Environment Questionnaire and the Team Cohesion Questionnaire in relation to initiation activities at their institution. Results revealed that athletes were more aware of appropriate than inappropriate initiation activities, with males being aware of a higher occurrence of inappropriate activities than females. Results were also analysed by sport type, revealing that interactive team sport players recorded higher hazing scores than co-acting players. With regard to cohesion, no significant relationship was found between hazing and cohesion suggesting the notion that initiations enhance cohesion in sport is untrue.