• An Examination of Decision-Making Biases on Fourth Down in The National Football League

      Ross, Weller; Applied Health Sciences Program
      The recent developments in the field of sport analytics have given researchers the tools to examine an increasingly diverse set of topics within the world of sport in ways not previously possible (Alamar, 2013; Fry and Ohlmann, 2012). This study analyzes the decision-making processes of high level coaches under different contexts and then determines whether or not a specific subconscious psychological bias, known as the representativeness heuristic, caused the individual to make the choice they did. Past empirical research has examined people’s decisions in different contexts and, from those con- texts, made inferences about how those individuals made their decisions and what errors in their decision-making processes could have led to their suboptimal choices (Kahneman and Tversky, 1979; Kobberling and Wakker, 2005; Tom et al, 2007; Tversky and Kahneman, 1992). The representativeness heuristic explains that errors in people’s judgment occur because their mind places too much emphasis on the current situation (new information) and not enough on the original odds (prior information). Previous researchers have been unable to separate the new and prior components of people’s decision-making when studying real-world scenarios in a sport context (Carter and Machol, 1978; Carroll, Palmer, and Thorn, 1989; Carroll et al, 1989; Patel, 2012; Romer, 2006). This research is different than the previous related research in that we utilize statistical models to gauge how people weight different information when making high-pressure decisions in sport. We hypothesize that coaches are disproportionately weighting new information against prior information when making decisions, and thus, yielding to the representativeness heuristic. To test our hypothesis, we construct numerous Bayesian updating models to represent the impact of National Football League (NFL) coaches’ decision-making on the likelihood of winning games. Utilizing a Bayesian approach enables us to keep the new and prior odds of winning the game separate, and thus, keep the two components of the representativeness heuristic separate. Regression analysis is then used with both of the components to directly test for the representativeness heuristic in NFL coaches’ decision-making by estimating the effect each component has on the coaches’ decisions. These estimates form the basis of our hypothesis tests.
    • An Exploratory Study of a Coach's Response to Mandated Regulation Change

      Wilson, Jenna; Applied Health Sciences Program
      In 2017 the University Interscholastic League mandated a regulation change that all Texas high school football coaches required certification through Atavus Tackling Training. The mandate represented a significant modification to the way tackling is taught, aimed at addressing risk of concussion and serious trauma. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore how coaches’ respond to mandated regulation change. This qualitative study utilized an individual level of analysis contributing to academic works concerning the understanding of organizational change, including the use of Bridges’ (1991) Transition Model within a sporting context, and the call for agent focused perspective work in neo-institutional theory. Through an abductive analysis blend consisting of inductive coding, and deductive a priori concept of the Bridges Transition Model, this study aimed to discern the role transition played in actualizing institutional change by addressing the research questions: RQ1: How do coaches respond when faced with mandated regulation change? RQ2: How does their response reflect transition? To account for the complex nature of the 15 interviewed head football coaches’ responses, the qualitative methodology of this study utilized various triangulation methods such as data, analysis, and theory triangulation, to capture rigor and trustworthiness. Rich findings were mined from the data including 15 propositional statements that represented the a priori model and 10 inductive themes that contributed to defining the identity of a coach, and the sport. The overlap between inductive and deductive findings explored factors earmarking why coaches progress or regress through transition. This study found a relationship between responses and the Bridges Transition Model phases (addressing RQ2), in addition to multiple transition cycles, and triggers for movement through the phases based on coaches' individual needs. This research not only provided examples of what those responses were (addressing RQ1), but also discussed why coaches responded in various ways. Discussion included use of organizational change literature, Bridges’ (1991) Transition Model, and institutional theory, accounting for what coaches experienced and the beliefs and values impacting their decisions and thus, responses to mandated regulation change.
    • Gladiator Gear: The unintended consequences of protective equipment in gridiron football compared to rugby union

      Brownbridge, Cullum; Applied Health Sciences Program
      Sports equipment has evolved over time to both enhance performance and reduce the injury risk. Protective equipment is particularly important in contact sports where injuries are frequent. In American and Canadian football, helmets and shoulder pads are two pieces of protective equipment that are strictly implemented to absorb hits of massive force to reduce the risk of head and upper body injuries respectively. While the risk of injury is reduced, the athlete's calculated perspective of risk might be altered. This change in risk equilibrium has the potential unintended consequence of the individual foregoing caution and playing in a faster and more aggressive style. This altered behavior not only increases the individual's own injury risk, but also puts other athletes who are on the receiving end of contact at greater risk. This displacement of risk is particularly dangerous when an athlete is hit in an area that is unprotected and vulnerable, or in an area where the equipment is not as effective as perceived. Drawing on existing research, theories of risk in sport, and qualitative interviews with 11 male, adult athletes who have competed in both football with significant protective equipment and rugby with minimal protective equipment, this study examines the relationships and potential disjuncture between sports equipment changes, athlete perceptions of injury risks, and actual injury risks. The purpose of this study is to compare physical contact, safety, and risk between the two high-contact sports, focusing on the different uses of mandated, protective equipment.
    • When the Beautiful Game Turns Ugly: A Study of Fan Experiences of Perceived Match Fixing in Soccer

      Lamberti, Adriano; Applied Health Sciences Program (Brock University, 2014-10-24)
      Limited academic attention has been given to the nexus between corruption in soccer and its impact on fandom. Consequently, the purpose of this qualitative study was to better understand the lived experiences of highly identified soccer fanatics living through this era of match fixing in the sport. Social networking site Twitter was utilized to recruit participants from three continents – Africa, Europe, and North America – based on submissions to the site in response to a perceived fix from a high-profile March, 2013 match. A total of 12 semi-structured interviews were conducted with highly identified soccer fans in accordance with Funk and James’ (2001) Psychological Continuum Model (PCM). Despite the majority of participants feeling skepticism about the purity of soccer today, half of the participants’ fandom remained unchanged in the face of perceived match fixing. Directions for future research and recommendations are considered and discussed.