An investigation into how participation in sports can enhance a learner's self esteem.
The study investigates how participation in sport can enhance a learner’s self-esteem. There are other significant factors such as the academic performance, peer acceptance, support from school and parental support, which may contribute to increasing the self-esteem of a learner. However, sport has been chosen as the point of focus in this study. The theories underpinning the study are Self-determination Theory (SDT), Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET) and Achievement Goal Theory. SDT distinguishes between intrinsic motivation which refers to engaging in something for the pleasure and satisfaction and extrinsic motivation refers to engaging in an activity for some kind of reward external to the activity itself. CET suggests that people must experience both satisfaction for both competence and autonomy in order to maintain intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic rewards like material rewards undermine intrinsic motivation. Achievement Goal Theory proposes two goal orientations, that is, task orientations and ego orientations. Task oriented individuals seek personal improvement and task mastery whereas ego oriented individuals seek to outperform others. Therefore task orientation is self-referenced whereas ego orientation is externally referenced. This was a qualitative single case study research design informed by an interpretive paradigm. It is about people’s subjective experiences and how they understand and interpret the world around them. The idea was that the researcher wanted to discover the unique experiences of participants regarding sport participation and to find out what inspire them. Focus group interviews, semi-structured interviews as well as observations were used as data collection procedures. The school that was selected for this study is a school situated in the urban area in Pinetown. Six learners involved in sports were chosen to participate in a focus group session which aimed to gather information on their experiences about sports. Leaners who participated were selected from Grade 10, 11 and 12. The sports coordinator who is also a physical education teacher was requested to take part in the semi-structured interview. The intention of the session was to collect data on her views about leaners’ experiences and whether the support related to sports given by the school to the learners has benefits that could enhance learners’ self-esteem. Although the school offers a variety of sports and encourages everyone to participate, there are still learners who are not involved in sports for various reasons. This non-participation needs to be addressed as it is important for adolescents to have high self-esteem in order to lead normal lives. Therefore the government and the school need to work together to ensure that all learners take part in sport. Parents also have a role to play in ensuring that their children participate in sport. Data analysis based on the responses of the participants revealed that learners engaged in sport and have a higher self-esteem than those who do not participate. Moreover, learners participating in sports have positive relationships with their teachers, parents and peers. The results of the study indicated that there is, indeed, a positive relationship between sport participation and self-esteem. This study was therefore seen as beneficial in motivating leaners and parents to motivate their children to partake in sports at school level.