An exploration of Para sport administrators' role in disseminating knowledge related to classification


Classification aims to create fair and equitable competition for athletes with disabilities; however, literature shows athletes’ and coaches’ knowledge of classification is often limited. Sport administrators may play a critical role in disseminating information about classification to their members, yet their understanding of classification has not been explored. Similarly, administrators’ role in educating athletes and coaches about classification are not yet been documented. We sought explore these topics through semi-structured interviews with six administrators at national sport organizations. Critical realism, wherein reality is believed to exist outside of ourselves and, although reality can be observed, its existence is not dependant on observation, was adopted. Analysis sought to identify observed and unobserved events and experiences as well as causal mechanisms for the phenomena. Three broad, explanatory themes were generated. First, we identified that classification creates tension within parasport pathways. This theme describes the dual-purpose of classification to create participation and high performing pathways. Second, we determined that parasport administrators’ roles are responsive to the dynamic and unique needs of their sport. Therefore, while similar actions are undertaken by administrators across organizations their aims differ greatly. Third, a lack of clarity within and about the classification system was identified as impacting administrators’ and therefore athletes’ experiences with classification. Primarily, poor knowledge of classification affects administrators’ abilities to set athletes’ expectations for their progression through sport, the experience of classification, and potential outcomes they may receive. This work identifies gaps in practice and advances our understanding of the classification system used within parasport.