Understanding and fostering quality sport experiences among military veterans with a physical disability

  • Celina H Shirazipour Queen's University
  • M Blair Evans Pennsylvania State University
  • Nick Caddick Anglia Ruskin University
  • Brett Smith University of Birmingham
  • Alice B Aiken Queen's University
  • Kathleen AMartin Gini McMaster University
  • Amy E Latimer-Cheung Queen's University

Abstract

Individuals with a physical disability have a right to full participation in society, including sport. Full participation can be understood as including both the quantity and quality of participation. While quantity is defined as the amount of participation, quality has yet to be conceptualized in sport. As a result, there is a lack of knowledge as to what constitutes quality sport. Moreover, how to create quality sport experiences is unclear. The current study explores understandings of quality sport among veterans with a physical disability, and how quality elements can be fostered. Eighteen veterans (15 men, 3 women) with a physical disability were recruited to take part in two interviews, exploring their views and experiences in sport. A thematic analysis indicated that four themes represent quality: group cohesion fostered through camaraderie with peers, communication, acceptance, and a shared focus; challenge fostered through mentally and physically challenging tasks with opportunities for risk and competition; having a role fostered through opportunities to have a prosocial impact; and independence and choice fostered through freedom and options within the program. A further three factors were identified as precursors to quality experiences: the physical environment, the social environment, and program structure. These findings, explored within the context of existing participation frameworks, both support and extend previous conceptualizations of quality. They provide insight into context-specific understandings of quality for sport and the military. More broadly, the study contributes towards the literature on parasport participation, and provides a framework for practitioners aiming to develop quality programs.

Acknowledgments: SSHRC; Wounded Warriors Canada