Influence of Participation in Competitive Sports on Character Changes of Secondary School Students in Nairobi City County, Kenya
Mwenda, Penninah Wanjiku
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Studies reveal a wide range of benefits derived from engagement in sports such as school connectedness, academic attainment, social benefits and character development of the youth. However, some studies have also indicated that competitive sports may lead to undesirable behavior. Therefore the purpose of this study was to assess the influence of participation in sports on character changes of secondary school students. The study was guided by the null hypothesis, ‘There is no significant difference in character changes between competitive and non-competitive student-athletes after six months’ sports participation. The independent variables are level of sports participation, gender, age, type of sport, school category, school status, school type, status of student and class level of students. Dependent variable was the character traits at the pre-test and post-test. A Quasi-experimental research design was utilized in this study. The target population was student-athletes from 258 secondary schools in Nairobi City County. Purposive sampling was used to select six hundred and seventy two (672) students from 24(10%) of secondary schools. Of these, 336 (competitive athletes) were those who had represented the school team in Inter-Sub county sport competitions in 2018 in selected sports. Matched pairs (336 non-competitive athletes) were those who played sports at school but never represented the school team in any of the Inter-Sub county sports competition. A close-ended questionnaire on character which was adapted from different sources was utilized in this study. A pre-test was conducted at the beginning of the playing season and athletes continued with active participation until the end of the playing / competition season when the post-test was undertaken. The data obtained was coded and analyzed using IBM-SPSS Version 20. Matched Sample Wilcoxon Signed Rank test showed significant change in character scores (p = .049) between Pre-test and Post-test, with less number of respondents (n=303) registering positive change than the number of respondents (n=348) who registered negative change scores. Independent Samples Mann Whitney U tests showed significant difference in character scores between Competitive and Non-Competitive student-athletes both at Pre-Test (p = .001) and at Post-Test (p = .023), with the Competitive group registering higher Mean Rank score than Non-Competitive group both at Pre-Test (361.75 vs. 311.25) and at Post-Test (353.58 vs. 319.42). Multinomial Logistic Regression Analyses showed that boarding status, school category and type of sport can significantly (p < .05) influence character changes among competitive student-athletes. Therefore it is concluded that participation in school sports can provide opportunities and experiences that lead to character change and thus aid in character development. However, sports competition can also result to negative character change and thus undermine the social value of sports. Boarding status, school category and type of sport influence outcomes of sports experiences leading to positive or negative character change. It is therefore recommended that curriculum developers and implementers should integrate character education to enhance the sports experiences and outcomes to promote desirable character changes and development.