Sport Event Volunteerism: What Student Volunteers Learn

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 2 (Convention Center)
Chen Ni1, Jinmoo Heo1, Carina King1 and Youngshin Won2, (1)Indiana University–Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, (2)Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea

Background/Purpose The United States Department of Labor (2012) reported that 62.7 million people participated in volunteerism at least once a week. This spirit of civic engagement is also prevalent in higher education. Among the myriad of sporting events for older adults, the Senior Games have been recognized as one that promotes a healthy lifestyle (National Senior Games Association, 2012). If intergenerational contact takes place between the senior athletes and younger generation volunteers who facilitate the event, it is expected that senior athletes may demonstrate the benefits of keeping active and healthy. This study explored the learning outcomes of undergraduate students who volunteered at Senior Games.

Method Content analysis was conducted from reflective essays from 142 students who enrolled a sporting event management class during summers of 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Upon completion of the volunteering experience at the Senior Games, students submitted a brief reflective essay. In framing the essays, students were encouraged to reflect on what they learned and what they thought about the Senior Games.

Analysis/Results Two major themes that identified the learning outcomes of participating in intergenerational service learning were (a) developing intergenerational relationships, and (b) role modeling and personal development.

Conclusions This study highlighted that service learning opportunities with older adults in the sport setting is a promising practice for students. Students collaborated with a local professional agency, and played an important role in facilitating the Senior Olympic Games. Students had a deeper understanding of subject matter, enhanced problem analysis abilities, and applied class materials to real problems.