Unto Others

Colby Jubenville does his part to make the Golden Rule an MVP on the courts and playing fields of the Sun Belt Conference

by Tom Tozer

In an age where athletics is often marred by acts of poor sportsmanship, Dr. Colby Jubenville has the remedy.

Jubenville, professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance and director of the Center for Sport Policy and Research at MTSU, created Real Sportsmanship, an online program platform focusing on the coach-athlete relationship especially for the collegiate level.

Real Sportsmanship asked questions and administered a pretest, then followed up with more questions and a post-test.  The issues discussed include the realities that both student-athletes and coaches face, which include drinking, partying, sexual activity, cheating, and gambling.  Participants are asked to reflect on their experiences and decisions as they relate to those issues.  Jubenville, himself a former college athlete, says participants should better understand how to handle new situations and assume leadership roles on their teams in life.

The Sun Belt Conference (SBC) began implementation of the platform for a five-year period, starting in 2010.  Findings released from the Center for Sport Policy and Research at MTSU are based on data collected from 778 SBC coaches and 3,476 SBC athletes.  The results indicate that the platform “significantly impacted several perceptional and behavioral aspects of coaches and student-athletes regarding sportsmanship.”

Jubenville notes that his research uncovered an important sportsmanship paradox -as the skill level increases, the ability to understand and implement sportsmanship decreases.  Fortunately, the Real Sportsmanship program provides a means by which coaches and athletes can bridge this divide between skill and behavior before it grows too wide.