Aim of the Research The purpose of this study is twofold: (1) to explore to what extent Belgian National football team players are perceived to be role models and credible ambassadors for a charitable organisation. And (2) to examine the effectiveness of the football stars’ charitable actions among different contexts and population segments.
Theoretical Background and Literature Review Although the fanbase of football stars is generally vast, there is often scepticism regarding the behaviour of these highly-paid individuals both on and off the pitch. Generally, the public claims that athletes are seen as role models and therefore should behave accordingly (De Rycke & De Bosscher, 2019). Wether or not intrinsically motivated, sport stars regularly partake in altruistic activities, for instance by supporting charities. Surprisingly, there is scant insight in the extent to which the efforts of sport stars are perceived credible by the public and a lack of societal impact evaluations of their benevolent actions.
Methods For the current study, a campaign was selected that instrumentalised players of the Belgian national football team. The objective of the campaign was to activate primary schools and its pupils to develop a local promotion campaign for the charitable organisation ‘Foster Care‘. A concurrent mixed-methods design was used as qualitative data (11 focus groups with pupils, observations and informal interviews) and quantitative data (surveys with both participating and control-group pupils (n=511) and adults (n=2400)) were collected pre-, during- and post-campaign.
Results and Discussion The mixed-method analysis revealed that Belgian National football team players are indeed perceived as being role models by most pupils and adults. Most respondents considered the football players efforts for the charitable organisation to be credible (73%) and positive (85%). Nonetheless, people (49%) were sceptic about the charitable actions being conducted ‘only to boost personal image’. Finally, across population segments, no significant increase in knowledge, awareness, motivation or change in favour of the charitable organisation was detected.
Conclusion and Implications Policies and programmes are often built upon the notion that football stars can be leveraged to serve positive societal change, despite the lack of sound evidence. Based on the study results, it could be argued that sport authorities could become more strategic in leveraging sport stars as role models and become more realistic of their actual impact.
De Rycke, J., & De Bosscher, V. (2019). Mapping the Potential Societal Impacts Triggered by Elite Sport: A Conceptual Framework. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics., 11(3), 485–502. https://doi.org/10.1080/19406940.2019.1581649
|Conference||24ste VK Symposium: van VK naar Vereniging voor Bewegings- en Sportwetenschappen|
|Period||6/12/19 → 6/12/19|