Date of Award

5-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Robin L. Hardin

Committee Members

Steven N. Waller, Rebecca A. Zakrajsek, Russell L. Zaretzki

Abstract

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) subscribes to the principle of intercollegiate athlete well-being (Article 2.2) which includes health and safety (Article 2.2.3). However, intercollegiate athletes, particularly those competing in arguably the most competitive level of intercollegiate athletics (i.e., NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision [FBS]), are exposed to unique stressors which may compromise their well-being. One dimension which has been received less frequent investigation in the context of athlete welfare is that of spirituality. In lieu of the unique intercollegiate athletic environment and stressors, it is critical to investigate the relationships between the spiritually-related characteristics, specifically religiosity, resiliency, and perceived stress to gain a holistic understanding of athlete wellness.

This study employed survey methodology by emailing intercollegiate athletes competing in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) (N = 6,950). Athletes’ emails were gathered from their respective university’s online public directory. Each intercollegiate athlete was individually emailed inviting him/her to participate in the study. Religiosity was measured using the Duke Religion Index, resiliency was measured with the Brief Resilience Scale, and perceived stress was measured using the Perceived Stress Scale. Additional independent variables social support, athletic identity, and resiliency were measured to provide context to the results.

Structural equation modeling (SEM) was utilized to analyze the relationships between religiosity, resiliency, social support, athletic identity, and perceived stress among SEC athletes based on the theoretical frameworks proposed by Williams and Andersen (1998) and Wiese-Bjornstal, Smith, Shaffer, and Morrey (1998). Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and SEM techniques revealed good model fit among respondents (n = 646; CMin = 1474.34 at 724 df; CFI = 0.949, RMSEA = 0.040, pclose = 1.00). Specific relationships comprising the model are discussed in the manuscript.

Results from this study provide context for offering resources intended to meet the holistic needs of intercollegiate athletes and help them effectively manage life stress and life transitions. Athletic administrators and coaches are encouraged to incorporate a spiritual health advisor, such as a sport chaplain, within their athlete well-being model.

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