An examination of the relative age effect and academic timing in cis volleyball


Sport organizations often use cut-off dates to equalize participation opportunities. In doing so, the relative age effect (RAE) becomes prevalent, as those born immediately after the cut-off date experience a developmental advantage over those born later in the year (Barnsley et al., 1985). Interuniversity sport occurs in an academic setting, where athletes can differ considerably in age; therefore, it is important to consider the academic timing (AT) of these student-athletes (Glamser & Marciani, 1992; Dixon et al., 2013). A student-athlete is considered 'on-time' if his or her birthdate and expected athletic eligibility status coincide, while a 'delayed' student-athlete will have an athletic eligibility correspond with a younger cohort. To date, few RAE investigations have examined volleyball, with none of these studies occurring in an interuniversity setting. Okazaki et al. (2011) explored the RAE among young female Brazilian volleyball players, and revealed a strong RAE, with more players born in the first quarter of 1991 and 1992 than any other quarter of the competition calendar. The purpose of the current study is to investigate the moderating effects of AT on the RAE among Canadian Interuniversity male (n = 1046) and female (n = 1374) volleyball players competing in the 2011-'12, 2012-'13, 2013-'14 seasons. A significant RAE was revealed across all three years for the overall male samples (p = 0.05), as well as for those considered 'on-time' (p = 0.05). Moreover, a significant RAE was noted for the overall (p = 0.018) and 'on-time' (p < 0.001) female samples in 2013-'14.

Acknowledgments: The authors would like to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for funding this project.