Intentions of high school track and field coaches to include athletes with physical disabilities
The purpose of this study was to investigate the beliefs that influenced Texas high school track and field coaches’ intentions towards including student athletes with physical disabilities on their high school athletic teams. The direction of the present study was based on changes made by the Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL). During the spring 2014 season UIL added a pilot wheelchair division in track and field. However, Texas high school track and field coaches’ intentions towards including athletes with physical disabilities had not been previously assessed. The Coaches’ Intentions to Include an Athlete with a Disability survey was designed to specifically assess the constructs of the Theory of Planned Behavior. These constructs include a set of beliefs that lead to behavioral constructs that lead to a person’s intention to perform a specific behavior. The survey assessed the coaches’ behavioral beliefs and the associated attitude towards the behavior construct, normative beliefs and the associated subjective norm construct, and control beliefs and the associated perceived behavioral control construct.
Head track and field coaches with at least 1 year of coaching experience that were between the ages of 25 to 65 years were asked to participate in the survey. Of the 1162 emails sent 113 survey responses met the inclusion criteria and had enough data to be retained. A multiple stepwise regression revealed that the coaches’ attitudes towards inclusion predicted their intention to include a student athlete with a physical disability. Descriptive statistics revealed that the majority of coaches (n = 89) demonstrated a positive attitude and high intention towards the inclusion of student athletes with physical disabilities on their high school track and field team. Based on a discriminate function analysis of coaches’ behavioral beliefs, coaches with high intentions towards inclusion believed that students with physical disabilities demonstrated a benefit to the overall team by inspiring other athletes and adding diversity to the team.