Dr. Craig M. Ross, Associate Professor, Indiana University,
of Recreation and Park Administration at Indiana University, HPER Room
133, Bloomington, IN 47405. Phone:812-855-3102. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Scott Forrester, Doctoral Research Assistant, Division of Recreational Spots at Indiana University, HPER Room 290, Bloomington, IN 47405. Phone:812-855-2371. E-mail: email@example.com.
Keywords: information technology trends, computers, collegiate recreational sports
Not since the industrial revolution has a technology had the impact on society as great as the advent of the computer. Some important and substantial changes have occurred during the 1990's in the use of information technology in collegiate recreational sports as well. Collegiate recreational sports programs across the United States are faced with the rapid growth of information technology. "In the provision and management of recreation services the computer is revolutionizing how we do business" (Confer, 1996, p. 82). The computer offers the potential for increasingly diverse applications in the collegiate recreational sports field both in the United States and abroad. Furthermore, as a result of the continual development of the World Wide Web, the internet can also be used for as many, if not more applications, as the computer in the recreational sports field.
Need for the Study
There have been numerous articles documenting the implementation of a computer system in the field of recreational sports during the mid-1980's (Bennett, 1983; Bittner, 1984; Cicciarella, 1987; Haderlie & Bennett, 1984; Haderlie & Brown, 1985; McCann, 1988a; McCann, 1988b; Wever & Nesbitt, 1986). Collectively, these studies provided advice, recommendations and considerations when purchasing a desktop computer for a recreational sports program or when computerizing your campus recreation operations. Once most collegiate recreational sports departments had at least one desktop computer, the research then progressed to more practical applications for computers in recreational sports. These articles reviewed the use for computers to control access to facilities, computer-based accounting and fiscal management, and using computers for desktop publishing, competitive programming and injury reporting (Aagaard & Taylor, 1989; Bleyer, 1982; Ross, 1988; Sandago, 1984; Stabenow, 1984; and Stevenson, 1984).
In the 1990's, there has been a similar trend with respect to research on information technology in recreational sports. Skipper (1992) examined the process of computerization in collegiate recreational sports. This research was followed by more practical applications of computers in recreational sports demonstrating the use of computers for: fitness programming, on-line searches, statistical analyses, database marketing, electronic ID card checking, facility scheduling, World Wide Web programming, voice mail and electronic mail (Haderlie & Ross, 1993; Handel & Forrester, 1997; Keudell, 1997; McIntosh, 1993; Ross, 1994; Ross & Sharpless, (in press); Ross & Wolter, 1996, 1997a, 1997b; and Ross, Wolter, & Handel, 1994). Although there have been several articles on the Web in recreational sports in the 1990's (Hall & Handel, 1997; Handel & Hall-Yannessa, 1997), these articles were again more practitioner-oriented containing very useful but general information about uses of the Web, as well as steps and considerations when creating Web pages. There has been little if any research in the 1990's on the current status of information technology in collegiate recreational sports in the United States. Howe (1982), as stated in Haderlie and Bennett (1984) noted: "Very few leisure service professionals are writing about computer use... reports of computer usage in recreation activities programming are not widespread in the magazines and journals of the leisure field" (p. 43). From this, Haderlie and Bennett concluded that: "Surely, additional research and publication of articles concerning computer use in recreation is needed" (p. 43). The information from this study will provide data on the current level of information technology being implemented in collegiate recreational sports as well as practical information on the various uses of computers for typical recreational sports functions. In addition, it well provide an update on trends in information technology use in collegiate recreational sports of which there has only been one similar report in the past decade and a half (Haderlie & Bennett, 1984).
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study was to provide a comparative analysis of information technology trends in collegiate recreational sports between 1994 and 1998 in the United States. More specifically, the study sought to examine: the trends in the overall level of computer investment in terms of hardware and software expenditures, the variety and change of software applications used in collegiate recreational sports between 1994 and 1998, collegiate recreational sport administrators' opinions towards computer utilization and the number of computer support staff members in recreational sports departments.
Development of the Survey Instrument
A survey instrument was designed by the authors in order to obtain information on the current status of information technology in collegiate recreational sports in the United States. The four-page survey consisted of three major sections which included: (a) administrators opinions towards the use of information technology consisting of 26 Likert statements; (b) software applications currently in use by the recreational sports department consisting of 20 questions; and (c) demographic and general background information consisting of questions pertaining to overall recreational sports annual operating budget and information technology budget, years of computer use in the department, number of information technology support staff employed by the department, and the number of computers being used by the department.
Once the initial survey was developed in 1994, it was reviewed by a panel of experts composed of six collegiate recreational sports administrators knowledgeable about information technology and recreational sports management. It was then pre-tested using a random sample of representative collegiate recreational sports directors. After making minor modifications to three questions on the survey for clarity purposes in 1994, the Salant and Dillman (1994) survey process was utilized for data collection in both the 1994 and 1998 surveys.
A cover letter, survey, and a return envelope were mailed in the spring of 1994 to 200 randomly selected administrators of recreational sports departments in the United States holding institutional membership in the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (N=1,323). A follow-up postcard was mailed to all non-respondents after ten days. A second cover letter, survey, and return envelope were mailed to all non-respondents after three weeks. One hundred and twenty-nine surveys were returned in 1994 for a response rate of 64.5%. This similar survey process was then re-administered to the same sample population in the spring of 1998. Of the 200 surveys sent in 1998, 138 were returned yielding a response rate of 69%. The chi square test of independence was used in examining frequency and categorical data of the survey while the independent samples t-test was used when comparing the mean scores of the administrators' opinions towards computer use.
Results of the Study
Overall Computer Investment
Respondents were asked to indicate the approximate overall
for computerization (both hardware and software) in their recreational
sports department (see Table 1). The results of
the chi-square analysis indicated a significant difference between the
overall investment of dollars towards computerization among the 1994
1998 studies x2(9, N = 222) = 42.88, p = .0001.
of the standardization residuals and sub-partitioning of the
table revealed that respondents in the 1994 study were significantly
likely than the 1998 respondents to invest less than $1,000 towards
in their departments.
Overall Computer Investment by 1994 and 1998 Survey Respondents
|$1,000 - $4,999||
|$5,000 - $14,999||
|$15,000 - $24,999||
|$25,000 - $34,999||
|$35,000 - $49,999||
|$50,000 and above||
Number of Computers in the Department
A significant relationship existed x2(9, N =
= 73.91, p = .0001 between the number of computers in a department in
and 1998. Over 43% of the respondents in the 1994 study indicated that
they had zero computers in the department compared to over 36% in 1998
who had 13 or more computers in their department. Table
2 illustrates the actual number of departmental computers.
Number of Computers in the Department by 1994 and 1998 Survey Respondents
|17 or more||0||0||31||24.4|
Reswick (1994) in a similar study of parks and recreation
found that computers were used most for word processing, creating
and databases, desktop publishing and project management. Respondents
both of these studies were similarly asked to identify computer
programs or applications that they currently use in their recreational
sports department. The software program or application that resulted in
the largest percentage difference in use from 1994 to 1998 was
mail (48.0%) followed by facility inventory programs (37.1%), payroll
(36.2%) and purchase orders (31.0%). The percentage differences in the
use of all software applications is provided in Table
Percentage Difference in Use of Software Applications
Departments in 1998 currently allocate a substantial amount of
budget dollars for computer related expenses than in the 1994 study. As
can be seen in Table 4, all budget categories increased
in the allocation amount. However, "Software expenses" x2(27,
= 184) = 40.86, p < .05 and "Supply expenses" x2(28,
= 175) = 41.33, p = .05 categories resulted in a significant
Annual Computer Budget Expenditures by 1994 and 1998 Survey Respondents
* = p values that are significant at the .05 level.
Opinions Towards Computers
As is the case with any new revolutionary change, problems and
may arise as a result. Computers, and the impending knowledge and
required to use them, may often lead to feelings of apprehension and
in employees regarding their implementation and uses. Ewert and Voight
(1985) suggested that employee attitudes toward computers may not be
understood or dealt with by administrators or supervisors. One of the
of this study was to assess recreational sports administrators'
towards computers between 1994 and 1998 to see if there were any
differences in opinion over the years. As illustrated in Table
5, there was a significant difference from 1994 to 1998 in respondents
opinions that, "There is an adequate number of computer programmers for
our operation" The 1998 group reported more disagreement with this
(M =2.38, SD = 1.29) than did the 1994 group (M =
1.96, SD = 1.32), t(256) = -2.560, p <.05.
Comparison of Opinions Towards Computers by 1994 and 1998 Survey Respondents
|Computers are making employees more productive||.57||.69||.73||.74||-1.705|
|There is an adequate number of computer programmers for our operation||1.96||1.32||2.38||1.29||-2.560*|
|The recreational sports department's computer budget is adequate for our current use||2.07||1.36||1.82||1.20||1.619|
|The current level of computer usage for my recreational sports department is satisfactory||1.91||1.31||1.61||1.12||1.985*|
|Computers are necessary in recreational sports administration||.65||.84||.47||.68||1.868|
|Computers are causing change...we are doing fine without them||3.44||.72||3.49||.69||-.622|
|Computers are making our recreational sports program more impersonal||3.19||.96||2.98||1.05||1.671|
|Knowledge of computers and the computer's capabilities and applications are the most important qualifications for a recreational sports programmer||2.62||1.01||2.57||1.07||.380|
|Knowledge of computers is important in attaining staff professional goals||1.30||.94||1.15||.79||1.420|
|Computers offer solutions to many of the problems facing recreational sports departments||1.56||.95||1.54||.93||.177|
|Computers are an essential tool in the daily operation of a recreational sports program||.88||.77||.74||.67||1.585|
|In the future, computers will become more essential in the day-to-day recreational sports operations||.75||.68||.65||.67||1.266|
|Computers make information available to recreational sports administrators that was not available before||1.20||.86||.76||.81||4.229***|
|The use of computers in recreational sports departments cannot be justified on a cost-benefit basis||2.90||.96||2.99||1.00||-.745|
|Computers should not be utilized for some recreational sports functions regardless of the cost effectiveness||1.98||.94||2.38||1.17||-2.982**|
|I do not have a good understanding of the kinds of things that computers can do||2.70||1.12||2.96||1.00||-1.907|
Another significant difference from 1994 to 1998 was found with respect to respondents opinions that, "The current level of computer usage for my recreational sports department is satisfactory". Administrators from 1998 (M =1.61, SD = 1.12) were in more agreement with this statement than the 1994 group (M = 1.91, SD = 1.31), t(254) = 1.985, p <.05. Significant differences between the two studies were also found with respect to recreational sports administrators opinions that, "Computers make information available to recreational sports administrators that was not available before". The 1998 administrators strongly agreed with this statement (M =.76, SD = .81) while the 1994 group was less supportive (M = 1.20, SD = .86), t(256) = 4.229, p <.001. Lastly, a significant difference was found for the opinion "Computers should not be utilized for some recreational sports functions regardless of the cost effectiveness". The 1998 administrators reported significant disagreement with the statement (M =2.38, SD = 1.17) than did the 1994 group (M = 1.98, SD = .94), t(254) = -2.982, p <.01.
Computer Support Staff Members
Significant differences between the two studies were also found, as
listed in Table 6, with respect to an increase in
the number of part-time computer generalists x2(5, N
= 267) = 12.62, p < .05, and full-time technicians x2(1,
= 175) = 6.04, p < .05. The popularity and technological benefits of
local area networks (LAN) also resulted in significant differences
the two studies with respect to an increase in the number of full-time
LAN/network administrators x2(2,
N = 179) = 10.37, p
Computer Support Staff Members in the Recreational Sports Department by
1994 and 1998 Survey Respondents
|Computer generalist: full-time||4.89||.429|
|Computer generalist: part-time||12.62||.027*|
|LAN/network administration: full-time||10.37||.006*|
|LAN/network administration: part-time||5.30||.071|
|Computer programmer: full-time||.18||.664|
|Computer programmer: part-time||2.80||.246|
|Graduate assistant: full-time||2.19||.334|
|Graduate assistant: part-time||7.69||.053|
* = p values that are significant at the .05 level.
The results from this study clearly indicate that the use of information technology in campus recreational sports programs have increased since the 1994 study. Computer hardware and software expenditures, use of various software applications, and the hiring of new computer personnel have all increased in order to meet the growing needs of administering a campus recreational sport program.
The results indicated a significant difference in the overall investment of dollars towards computerization between the 1994 and 1998 studies. Respondents in the 1994 study were significantly more likely than the 1998 respondents to invest less than $1,000 towards computerization in their departments. Over 43% of the respondents in the 1994 study indicated that they had zero computers in the department compared to over 36% in 1998 who had 13 or more computers in their department. Not surprisingly, there has been an increase in the overall level of investment in computers and this investment is not limited to just hardware purchases. An extraneous but contributing factor to the increase in technology budgets might very well be the growth in the economy as a whole from 1994 to 1998. During this time period, collegiate recreational sport programs experienced growth in their overall operating budgets. In addition, because the cost of a computer system decreased during these four years, departments were able to buy more computer hardware for the dollar, resulting in a significant increase in the number of computers being purchased.
Software uses have increased significantly between 1994 and 1998 as well. The software program or application that resulted in the largest percentage difference in use from 1994 to 1998 was electronic mail (41.8%) followed by facility inventory programs (37.8%), payroll programs (35.4%) and purchase orders (33.4%). From the results of the study, electronic mail is replacing the standard surface mail system and is rapidly becoming the preferred media (both on and off-campus) choice of many practitioners in the recreational sports field. Tabor, Pryor and Gutierrz, (1997) noted that, "Effective internal and external communication is critical to the success of most organizations" (p.8). The results of this study indicate that electronic mail is the communication medium that is being used to effectively communicate internally within recreational sports departments and externally within the recreational sports field. As recreational sports professionals become more proficient and aware of the capabilities of computers, they are using more and more different software packages in an attempt to be more efficient and to better serve their clientele. This increase in use has resulted in a subsequent increase in budgetary expenditures for computer related items. The results of this study suggested that this trend will continue into the 21st century and one that administrators must be prepared to handle.
In order to be able to handle the increased infusion of technology into campus recreational sports' operations in the future, recreational sports administrators need to be concerned with personnel, budgetary and information dissemination issues. The results from this study found that recreational sports administrators felt "There is an adequate number of computer programmers for our operation", "The recreational sports departments' computer budget is adequate for our current use," and "Computers make information available to recreational sports administrators that was not available before." The increase in the level of investment in computerizing recreational sports programs, the increasing amount of staff time required, and the hiring of computer literate sport programming staff are key trends found in this study. Administrators are realizing the benefits and necessity of technology and are now hiring more full-time and part-time computer support staff to develop and sustain current levels of use and are preparing for future needs as well. Furthermore, as recreational sports operations become increasingly computerized, even programming staff are going to need to be more and more computer literate in order to effectively perform their day to day responsibilities. This computer literacy requirement will definitely affect the criteria used in the job search process as well as become a necessary training and development need for all personnel within the campus recreational sports department.
Significant differences between the two studies were also found with respect to an increase in the number of part-time computer generalists and full-time technicians. The popularity and technological benefits of local area networks (LAN) have also resulted in significant differences between the two studies with respect to an increase in the number of full-time LAN/network administrators. The construction of new multipurpose student-oriented recreational sports facilities on college campuses nationwide has resulted in the need to link computers at both the old and new recreational sports facilities to a central server. Employees, regardless of the facility that they are at, or the computer they log onto, can access their files or department files. The construction of these new campus recreational sport facilities, and the subsequent need for LANs have ultimately led to the hiring of more full-time LAN/network administrators as indicated by the results of this study.
Internet and Intranet (originally called a "corporate internet" is a private network of WWW pages inside a company or organization that is usually a separate, stand-alone entity from the internet and is used for distributing private internal information to users) uses of the World Wide Web have led to more staff positions in these particular areas as well, although significant differences were not found in this study. Recreational sports programs are becoming more advanced with their information technology needs and programs. As a result, there will be a decrease in the need for basic technical, administrative and support staff to simply sustain operating systems. Instead, expect to see an increase in the number of computer and World Wide Web programmers to provide more advanced applications (such as league scheduling, options for on-line program registration or dynamic, interactive posting of recreational sports information on-line and continuously updating these websites) of information technology to the increasing needs of recreational sports programs.
Despite the increased computerization of recreational sports programs, there was a significant difference from 1994 to 1998 in respondents opinions that, "Computers are making our recreational sports programs more impersonal". More and more functions of recreational sports programs are becoming computerized. Most likely, there will be less interaction between participants and recreational sports staff members thus leading to this opinion. This finding appears to be consistent with the research findings of Ewert and Voight (1985) when respondents indicated that computers had the potential to polarize or isolate staff members.
Another significant difference between 1994 and 1998 was found with respect to respondents opinions that, "Computers should not be used for some recreational sports functions regardless of the cost effectiveness". It would be interesting to see why respondents felt this way, but with the interactive nature of recreational sports between staff and participants, computerizing certain recreational sports functions would most likely eliminate some of this interaction which would undermine the nature and effectiveness of the function itself. For example, it is quite foreseeable that in the very near future, we will see the emergence of video conferencing and live video cams on the internet for conducting staff meetings, conducting meetings with participants or merely observing employees at different stations in a facility.
Information technology has seen a phenomenal growth in the past four years, providing users with faster, more powerful and more affordable computer equipment and software than ever before. While it is not the panacea for a quality recreational sports program, it is quite clear that information technology is an important tool that can improve the quality and speed of daily operations and can provide valuable information to assist in decision-making. In collegiate recreational sports advanced technology has become a staple in the administration of various activities and programs. The growth in computerization in recreational sports was most likely no different than the average growth of computers in academic departments. However, we can only speculate this increase in computerization will continue for the long term. Although the increase in computerization occurred partially due to decreasing hardware prices and technophobia diminishing; there is no denying that an overwhelming majority of collegiate recreational sports programs recognize the benefits of information technology and the positive contributions to the organization and administration of their programs.
Information technology is still evolving and in order to maximize its utility, recreational sports administrators need to be concerned with more than just the right hardware and software applications. To effectively utilize information technology, administrators need to prepare for the future....in the workplace and on the ball field. The productivity and effectiveness of our professional staff will depend to a large degree on how well they understand and work with new information technologies. With shrinking budgets and increasing job responsibilities, the internet offers many exciting new opportunities for education and ongoing professional development of recreational sport practitioners.
Effective use of information technology can have a strong and positive impact on collegiate recreational sports. With the trends demonstrated in these studies, we can clearly see that information technology is playing a significant role in collegiate recreational sports and will have a tremendous impact in the delivery of services in years to come. Information technology is certainly remaining true to all of its hype: more service, better, faster and more efficient. Computer use has broadened tremendously in the past four years and undoubtedly will continue to do so as we enter into the new millennium.
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