Sam gives junior sport a leg-up

The delicate issue of unwanted parental interference in children’s sport – and how to ensure parents help rather than hinder their child’s participation – has seen Flinders University sport researcher Dr Sam Elliott named a winner in Universities Australia’s 2019 Pitch It Clever competition.

“Parents can be the best, and the worst, of children’s sport,” says Dr Elliott, a lecturer in Sport, Health and Physical Activity at Flinders University’s College of Education, Psychology and Social Work.

“They are the most loyal, diehard, one-eyed fans, and yet, parents can also be the harshest critics, the worst of losers and the poorest of sports. Misdirected parental support can, ironically, significantly contribute to children dropping out of active sport participation.

“Not enough parents are equipped with the skills to maximise support and encouragement, which are necessary for promoting sustained sport involvement. My research proposes a new education and support approach to immediately arrest the risks posed by parents for children’s sport enjoyment and motivation.

“This will help to maximise participation and help to reduce the economic burden of physical inactivity in Australia, which is an estimated $555 million per year.”

Dr Elliott was presented with the $1000 Universities Australia Award for his video “The Sport Parent Project” at Universities Australia’s 2019 Higher Education Conference dinner at Parliament House in Canberra (Wednesday February 27).

The national competition encourages early career researchers to communicate their research and explain why it matters in plain language in a short video.

Dr Elliott’s video explains his research into parental bad behaviour and his solutions to support parents to play a positive role in their children’s enjoyment of and motivation to play sport.

Flinders University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robert Saint says Dr Elliott’s success in the Universities Australia competition underlines the progressive methods and engagement of leading research being undertaken at Flinders University.

“Flinders researchers are not only committed to making a difference in society, but also foster a greater understanding of why this research matters and how it benefits the whole community,” Professor Saint says.

Pitch it Clever is an annual competition run by Universities Australia challenging early career researchers to communicate their research and why it matters to non-specialist audiences via video. Education Minister Dan Tehan attended the conference dinner and award presentations in Canberra.

Dr Elliott’s winning video entry:

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College of Education, Psychology and Social Work