Date of Graduation

Spring 4-19-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organization and Leadership (O&L)


School of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Jane Bleasdale

Second Advisor

Danfeng Koon


Sports have been a tool for development within educational institutions for decades. In the United States, around 8 million high school students participate in high school sports. Very few go on to play for University Athletic Departments. Out of the 8 million students, only 495,000 (6.1%) of them will compete at NCAA schools (NCAA, 2020). Though the probability of competing in the NCAA's elite divisions is low, university students have plenty of opportunities to play and compete in sports via club/recreational sports programs, intramurals, and physical education courses. Estimates show that over 2 million higher education students in the United States engage in club/recreational sports (Pennington, 2008). Most researchers focus on how club/recreational sports participation retains students at their institution; however, researchers have offered minimal data on club/recreational sports and their relation to college students' growth and development.

It is the duty of universities to positively develop young people for successful futures. Outside of the lecture halls, millions of students engage in recreational sports clubs. Does involvement in recreational sports clubs develop university students in a positive way? If so, does this have any implications on the acquisition of leadership skills and character development? Research is needed on what works and what does not in order to optimize the opportunity for personal and professional growth in students’ lives.