Date of Award
Hockey, Mental health, Social support, Sports, Swift current broncos, Team tragedy
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Throughout the last decade there has been a widespread effort to collectively acknowledge mental health challenges faced by individuals within society and to improve their outcomes through social support. While much of this discussion has included sport, sport organizations remain resistant to change at every level from the professional level to school sports. Accordingly, individuals have continually faced mental health challenges that originated or were compounded by their participation in sport. This study attempted to identify the social supports and barriers to those supports that resulted in athletes having poor outcomes, while also identifying the strategies and social supports used by athletes to eventually reach positive outcomes in sport’s social environment. A case study methodology was used, with the 1986-87 Swift Current Broncos WHL team serving as participants. The team was chosen due to their experience with two stressors: a bus accident that killed four teammates, and their coach being a serial pedophile. The study’s results showed that nearly all participants experienced mental health challenges because of these stressors, and that a majority of participants perceived that the social environment of Canadian junior hockey in the 1980s contributed to the athlete’s negative mental health outcomes by acting as a barrier towards social support. The implications of this study suggests that the environment within junior hockey is not conducive to positive mental health outcomes, a conclusion that was seriously heightened by Hockey Canada’s 2022 scandal involving a sexual misconduct fund that occurred just after the study was completed.
Smith, Shaun, "The Broncos: A Social Support Approach to Team Tragedy" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 9044.