Term of Award

2004

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology with an Emphasis in Sport Psychology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Public Health

Committee Chair

Barry Joyner

Committee Member 1

Kevin L. Burke

Committee Member 2

Drew Zwald

Committee Member 3

Matt Wilson

Abstract

The number of religious gestures seen at sporting events is steadily rising. Although it is feared that pre-game prayers may interfere with an athlete's preparation for competition, Turman (2003) found athletes credited those prayers as a way to bring the team together. Czech and Burke (2002) found that female athletes were more supportive of prayer and religiosity in sports than their male counterparts. Therefore, the purposes of the present study were: 1) to examine the differences in team cohesion and spirituality between softball teams that pray and those that do not pray, and 2) describe why softball players use prayer, when they use prayer, if they pray by choice, and how genuine the prayers are. Participants included 92 NCAA Division I athletes from six southeastern universities. Cohesion levels were measured using the GEQ (Carron, Widmeyer, & Bravvley, 1985), and the personal use of spirituality in sports was measured by the SIST (Dillon & Tail, 2000). No relationship was found between scores on the SIST and subscales of the GEQ (p>.05). However, there was a significant difference between athletes who reported individual prayer and those who did not on scores for the SIST (p= 0001). Qualitative results revealed athletes believed team prayer aided in the development of team cohesion by bringing the team closer together and emphasized the importance of choice to participate in team prayers. Future research should include descriptions of coaches' perceptions of the effects of team prayer, the use of team prayer among male athletes, differences in the perceptions of the importance of team prayer among athletes in contact sports vs. non-contact sports, and a more comprehensive study of the cohesioa'prayer relationship among athletes in other regions of the country.

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