Work-family conflict (WFC) is defined as “the discord that arises when the time devoted to or time spent fulfilling professional responsibilities interferes with or limits the amount of time available to perform family-related responsibilities” (20, 21). A successful career in sports information requires long, demanding hours which can make finding balance between work and family difficult. Sports information professionals (SIDs) participate in public relations activities designed to promote the teams they represent (19, 26). Responding to increasing interest in college sports, the demand for information about collegiate athletic departments has increased (13). In order to meet this demand for information, SIDs are responsible for producing content for electronic and print media on a regular and timely basis. The work done by sports information professionals has been characterized as 24 hours a day, 7 days a week work (11). Therefore, balancing work and home life has become a topic of increasing interest for those working in this field.
The purpose of this study was to determine if work-family conflict exists in NCAA Division II SIDs and to examine the impact of WFC on the related theories of life satisfaction (LS), job satisfaction (JS), job burnout (JB), and career commitment (CC). E-mails containing a link to the online survey were sent to the highest ranking sports information professional in each NCAA Division II institution. Informed consent was obtained prior to obtaining access to the survey. The survey contained Likert scale items for WFC, LS, JS, JB, and CC, demographic information, and open ended items relating to positive aspects and challenging aspects in performing the duties of a sports information professional. Of the 273 individuals contacted, 98 (36%) completed the survey. Results indicated these professionals do suffer from work-family conflict as 84% reported high levels of conflict, while only 8% reported low levels of conflict. Examination of the other scales revealed that these professionals are fairly satisfied with life and job factors, but some do experience from a fair degree of job burnout. Further analysis revealed that those with more children in the home had greater WFC. Finally, correlation and regression analyses revealed significant statistical relationships between each scale and indicated that WFC could successfully predict variations in LS, JS, JB, and CC.
Key Words: sports information, media relations, work family conflict
Work-family conflict (WFC) is defined as “the discord that arises when the time devoted to or time spent fulfilling professional responsibilities interferes with or limits the amount of time available to perform family-related responsibilities” (20, 21). This type of conflict appears when the demands of one’s professional life interfere with the demands of one’s personal life. Stated another way “participation in the work role/family role is made more difficult by virtue of participation in the family role/work role” (16). WFC has been studied extensively in the corporate environment (2, 9). This is a growing line of inquiry in the sport context and has received visible support from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). For example, the NCAA has created a work-life task force to address these issues (10) and the topic has been prominent at NCAA National Conventions beginning in 2008. Results from a recent study found that NCAA Division I sports information professionals do experience high levels of work-family conflict (14).
Sports information professionals (SIDs) participate in public relations activities designed to promote the teams they represent (19, 26). Responding to increasing interest in college sports, the demand for information about intercollegiate athletic departments has increased (13). In order to meet this demand for information, SIDs are responsible for producing content for electronic and print media on a regular and timely basis. They develop a wide range of publications and new media, compile and manage statistics, meet the needs of the media, manage budgets, organize events, and supervise personnel all while maintaining their composure in highly stressful situations (12, 26). SIDs report feeling overwhelmed with the increasing demands of desktop publishing and electronic media (16). A successful career in sports information requires long, demanding hours which can make finding balance between work and family difficult. Therefore, balancing work life and home life has become a topic of increasing interest for those working in this field, including SIDs at the NCAA Division II level.
In an attempt to define, brand, and uniquely position NCAA Division II, the NCAA launched a strategic initiative that incorporates a hexagon of principles (learning, balance, resourcefulness, sportsmanship, passion, and service) to clearly define and uniquely position Division II. In addition, the Division II presidents have established the first phase in a two phase process designed to promote more balance between work and life for coaches and student-athletes. The “Life in the Balance” principle reduces contest dates in 10 sports thus streamlining the seasons and includes a provision for a seven-day break from practice and competition for basketball. These actions are designed to provide time off for players and team staffs. It is reasonable to infer that this increased focus on a balanced life, including the streamlining of seasons and reduction in contests, would promote more opportunity for work-life balance for athletic department members, including sports information professionals.
The NCAA Division II strategic positioning initiative is designed to establish a way of life on the Division II campus as uniquely different from the way of life on campuses at other institutional classifications. Several studies exist that examine the job characteristics for athletic directors at the various institutional classifications. Previous research indicates that there are very few differences among the characteristics of the organizations and the styles of administration in NCAA (all levels) and NAIA athletic departments (25). Further, Copeland and Kirsch (4) found no significant differences in job stress for NCAA athletic directors regardless of institutional classification (Division I, Division II, or Division III). Additionally, these athletic directors reported that they almost always experienced some level of job related stress (4). Given the similar organizational characteristics and administrative styles, including the similarly stressful nature of the role of the athletic director in intercollegiate athletics, it is reasonable to infer that those with other roles within athletic departments at various institutional classifications might experience similar challenges to their colleagues across divisions. In fact, the stresses faced by SIDs in NCAA Division I might also be faced by those in NCAA Division II institutions. Hatfield & Johnson (14) reported that a majority of the NCAA Division I SID participants experienced work-family conflict.
Studies examining work-family conflict in sport have focused primarily on athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, and administrators at the NCAA Division I level (6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 17, 18, 22, and 24). Male and female coaches have experienced work-family conflict (24). Work-family conflict has been closely examined in NCAA Division I athletic trainers (17, 18). Results from these studies indentified long hours, required travel, overlapping responsibilities, drive to succeed, and commitment to the profession as qualities that contribute to the challenges sport professionals face in managing work-family conflict (6, 7, 8, 15, 17, 18, 22, 24). SIDs are another group of athletic department staff members who work in similarly demanding positions. In a study examining work-family conflict and related theories in sports information professionals, Hatfield & Johnson (14) found that 86% of participating SIDs reported experiencing work-family conflict. These professionals identified “balancing work and family life, especially on the weekends;” “balancing work/family life and prioritizing the things that must get done and putting others aside to spend time with family;” “meeting all the job demands with a small staff and meeting the demands at home as a husband and father of two young children;” and “balancing travel/events with family…more is always added, nothing is ever taken away” as some of their greatest challenges in performing their job duties (14).
Work-family conflict does not exist in isolation. Work-family conflict has been negatively related to life satisfaction and job satisfaction in athletic trainers and sports information professionals (14, 18). Work-family conflict has been positively correlated with job burnout and intent to leave the profession (14, 20). Work schedules that require long hours with little flexibility have been tied to job dissatisfaction and burnout in athletic department employees (14, 17). Further, in so much as time is a limited resource, time spent on one activity, work, is time not spent on another activity, family. Therefore, attempts to balance work and family while managing other, related constructs as experienced by SIDs warrants formal examination. The purpose of this study was to determine if work-family conflict exists in NCAA Division II sports information professionals and to examine the impact of work-family conflict on the related theories of life satisfaction (LS), job satisfaction (JS), job burnout (JB), and career commitment (CC).
Sports information professionals in each of the 273 NCAA Division II member institutions were invited to participate, and 98 SIDs completed surveys. Participants in this study were the highest ranking sports information professionals in their respective NCAA Division II athletic departments. Titles for these professionals might include, but are not limited to, any of the following: sports information director, assistant athletic director for media relations, or associate athletic director for sport communications.
There are 273 NCAA Division II institutions listed on the NCAA portal. The portal was used to provide access to the website for each Division II institution. Once on the website, the highest ranking communications professional in the athletic department was identified and an email inviting that individual to participate in the study was sent. A link to the survey was provided in the email. Informed consent was obtained prior to obtaining access to the survey. Following the initial invitation to participate, two additional reminders were sent. The survey was open for six weeks.
An online survey was assembled to include five scales that had previously been tested for validity and reliability (12) and included a section for demographic information and open ended items to address the positive aspects and challenging aspects in performing the duties of a sports information professional. The following five scales were used:
Work-Family Conflict. Work-family conflict was assessed using the 5-item Netemeyer et al. (20) scale that included a 7-point Likert-type scale (1 = strongly disagree or low work-family conflict to 7 = strongly agree or high work-family conflict) for responses.
Life Satisfaction. Life satisfaction was assessed using the 5-item Diener (5) Satisfaction with Life Scale that included a 7-point Likert-type scale (1 = strongly agree or high life satisfaction to 7 = strongly disagree or low life satisfaction) for responses.
Job Satisfaction. Job satisfaction was assessed using the 6-item Agho, Price & Mueller (1) scale that included a 5-point Likert-type scale (1 = strongly agree or low job satisfaction to 5 = strongly disagree or high job satisfaction) for responses.
Job Burnout. Job burnout was assessed using the 21-item Pines & Aronson (23) Burnout Measure that included a 7-point Likert-type scale (1 = never or low job burnout to 7 = always or high job burnout) for responses.
Career Commitment. Career commitment was assessed using the 7-item Blau (3) scale that included a 5-point Likert-type scale (1 = strongly agree or high career commitment to 5 = strongly disagree or low career commitment) for responses.
The quantitative data was calculated using SPSS version 16. Demographic data was collected for gender, age, EEOC status, educational background, number of children under the age of 18 living in the household, and number of years in the field. Each scale was totaled and percentages for the “agree” (agree, somewhat agree, strongly agree), “neutral”, and “disagree” (disagree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree) responses were calculated for each scale. Cross-tabulations between demographic categories and the WFC scale were run to determine if any of these factors had an impact on WFC. Finally, correlation and regression analysis was run to examine the relationships between the scales and to determine the predictive ability of WFC on each of the other scales. Qualitative data from the open ended items were utilized to support the results from the quantitative analyses.
Of the 273 Division II sports information professionals contacted, 98 responded to the survey, for a response rate of 36%. Within the group of respondents, 85% were male (n = 83) and 11 % were female (n = 11). Four individuals (4%) chose not to include their gender. With regard to family status, 32% were single (n = 31), 61% were married (n = 60), 1% was widowed (n = 1), 1% was divorced (n = 1), 1% was in a domestic partnership (n = 1), and 4% (n = 4) did not indicate a family status. Eighty six percent of the sample was Caucasian (n = 84), five percent were African American (n = 5), one percent was Hispanic (n = 1), two percent were of mixed heritage (n = 2), and six percent did not respond to EEOC status (n = 6). Most of the respondents were sports information directors (70%, n = 69), with a few indicating they were assistant or associate athletic directors (27%, n = 25). Four of the participants did not indicate a title (n = 4).
The results clearly show that Division II sports information professionals (SIDs) do experience levels of work-family conflict. Eighty four percent of the participants responded that they had high levels of work-family conflict while only eight percent indicated they did not feel their work conflicted with their personal lives. Responses from open-ended questions also support this finding including: “having to work seven days a week and having very little family time;” “trying to manage family time with work demands. More games are moving to weekends to avoid missed class time, but it doesn’t help staff members;” and “keeping an equal life-work balance through the entire year, not just in the summer months when there are no sports.”
With regard to the life satisfaction scale, 59% of the respondents indicated that they were happy with their current life situation, 28% indicated that they were not happy with their current life situation and another 13% responded neutral with regard to this set of questions. Even though over half of the participants did report that they are happy with their current life situation, the researchers were expecting this number to be higher as anecdotal evidence indicated that although these types of sport professionals do work long, demanding hours, the great percentage seemed to be happy with their lives. Therefore, the fact that almost 30% reported being somewhat unhappy further indicates there may be some work-life balance issues with this population. One respondent suggested that being “able to work flexible hours outside of events. Telecommute when possible. Go into the office after the kids are in bed” was a positive aspect of the job. Other responses included: “…involving my family in my work so I can accomplish my duties and spend time with family at the same time” and “nothing less than 100% is enough…my drive keeps me going and my family is heavily involved in the school in which I work which is good and bad.” These statements reinforce the crossover between these job and life characteristics.
Results related to the job satisfaction scale indicated that overall these professionals are satisfied with their present situation, as 80% responded that they were satisfied with their current jobs, while only nine percent reported being dissatisfied. This certainly indicates that while there are issues in this profession, the gross majority are pleased with their careers at this point in their professional lives. Respondents indicated that interacting with student-athletes and coaches, being a fan of one team, and the game-day atmosphere were positive aspects of their jobs.
Fifty five percent of the participants did not indicate high levels job burnout while 43% did indicate some level of burnout on a fairly frequent basis, according to results from the job burnout scale. Again, even though the majority of the participants do not report experiencing high levels of burnout, the fact that 43% do suffer from some level of burnout is an important finding and one indication that these individuals may experience more burnout as they progress through their professional careers as most of the participants were less than ten years into the profession. Some respondents provided work place examples related to burnout including the following: “Balancing what I physically, mentally and emotionally CAN do with what I WANT to do;” “too much work, not enough pay;” “no full-time help;” “limited staff (just me) covering 16 sports;” and “the ever changing and growing list of responsibilities.”
Results from the career commitment scale were interesting as 56% indicated that they were happy with their careers, while 41% had some level of uncertainty. This, again, further illustrates that most of these professionals do enjoy what they do although some may choose a different focus if they could “do it over again.” Positive comments related to career commitment included: “I love daily interaction with student-athletes, nothing beats the atmosphere of a college campus and the chance to make a difference in the lives of student-athletes” and “ability to develop working relationships with players and coaches. Ability to call the program ‘my own.’ Opportunity to tailor my work to the needs of my media market.” Others provided comments identifying challenges to their career commitment: “dealing with unrealistic objectives from superiors who have not the first clue what this job entails;” “I’m a one-man show. I currently do not have any full-time assistant[s] so I must complete all tasks;” and “managing expectations of administration in face of new technologies.”
To further disaggregate the data, cross-tabulations were run to determine if the responses on the work family scale were different based on gender, EEOC status, years of experience in the field, and number of children under age 18 in the home. When compared on gender, 100% of the female respondents indicated they did feel at least some degree of work-family conflict (see Table 1 for complete results). Results related to males showed 92.8% had some level of work-family conflict, while 1.2% was neutral and 6% indicated there was little or no work-family conflict. Comparison on EEOC status revealed similar results across the different categories as most felt a fair degree of work-family conflict and very few responses indicated little or no conflict (see Table 2 for complete results).
Data for years of experience as it relates to work-family conflict also showed very few differences across categories. Ninety three percent of those with ten or less years of experience indicated at least some level of conflict, compared to 96% of those with 11-20 years of experience, and 92% of those with over 20 years of experience (see Table 3 for complete results).
The most significant results of the cross-tabulations were associated with the number of children under the age of 18 in the home (see Table 4 for complete results). First, it was interesting to note that approximately 55% of the participants in the study reported having no children under the age of 18 living in the household. There could be several explanations for this result. Since many of these individuals are less than ten years into their careers they may not be at a point in their life where they want to start a family, but it may also indicate that their work schedules are interfering with the ability to start a family. Data from the cross-tabulation definitely showed differences based on the number children under age 18 in the household. Greater numbers of children in the household was associated with greater work-family conflict. Of those with three or more children, none indicated they were neutral or had little or no conflict, while 10.3% of those with two or less children under the age of 18 reported neutral or low rates of conflict.
Correlations were run to examine the degree of relationship between each of the scales. The correlations show significant relationships between each of the scales utilized in the study (see Table 5). Approximately half of the correlations were moderate (0.4 to 0.7) while the other half were low (0.2 to 0.4) but still all correlations were statistically significant at the 0.05 alpha level. These data clearly show there is a relationship between work-family conflict and each of the other scales, as well as, each of the other scales with each other.
After determining there were significant correlations between the scales, regression analyses were run between the work-family scale and each of the other scales to determine if work-family conflict could successfully predict the variations in the scores on the other scales (see Table 6 for complete results). The work-family conflict scale was able to predict each of the other scales effectively, indicating that work-family conflict is significantly related to life satisfaction, job burnout, career commitment, and job satisfaction for this group of Division II sports information professionals. Although work-family conflict was able to predict each of the other scales, the regression between work-family conflict and job burnout was substantially higher than the others, which indicates those experiencing from work-family conflict also seem to be experiencing a fair degree of job burnout.
The results of this study compare remarkably with a previous study by these authors investigating the same research questions with Division I sports information professionals (14). Eighty six percent of Division I SIDs reported having work-family conflict which compares favorably to the 84% reported in this study. All of the other scales had very similar results as well, certainly indicating that the stresses faced and the impact of these stressors on the lives of sports information professionals is very similar from Division I to Division II. The Division II SIDs did report slightly higher job burnout than their Division I counterparts (43% to 41%) which could be related to less staff and help, and additional responsibilities that may include coaching, other administrative responsibilities, etc., at the Division II level. The results from the correlation and regression data also mirrored the results from the Division I study.
With increased coverage of Division II athletic events comes increased work for those providing information and promoting the athletes and teams to media outlets, fans, and other interested parties. As this demand for information increases, the potential for work-family conflict and related issues could certainly increase as well. The purpose of this study was to determine if work-family conflict exists in Division II SIDs, and if so, what is the relationship between work family conflict and life satisfaction, job satisfaction, career commitment, and job burnout? It is clear that Division II sports information professionals do experience work-family conflict, much like their Division I colleagues, and there is a significant relationship between these concepts. The correlation and regression analyses clearly show that work-family conflict can predict variations on each of the other scales. It is important for those in administrative positions to understand the demands on the SIDs and try to provide ways to reduce the impact of work-family conflict as it certainly could have potential negative results for the professionals.
Since SIDs serve as a liaison between collegiate athletic departments and media outlets, fans, and other interested parties, work-family conflict and job burnout could lead to increased stress among these professionals and could impact all entities associated with these athletic departments, including the athletes, other athletic administrators, and the university as a whole. This study has clearly demonstrated that these professionals do suffer from work-family conflict, and that WFC is related to increased job burnout and decreased life satisfaction, job satisfaction, and career commitment. Therefore, it is certainly plausible that this could lead to increased stress and negative impacts, therefore, it is important for athletic administrators to address this issue with their employees and try to find ways to decrease this conflict.
Cross-tabulation of work-family conflict by gender
Cross-tabulation of work-family conflict by EEOC
Cross-tabulation of work-family conflict by years of experience
|Years of Experience|
|Response||0-10 years||11-20 years||21-30 years||31+ years|
Cross-tabulation of work-family conflict by number of children under age 18 in the home
|Number of children under 18 in home|
Correlations (actual correlation coefficients) between subscales
|Scales||Work-family Conflict (WFC)||Life Satisfaction (LS)||Job Satisfaction (JS)||Job Burnout (JB)||Career Commitment (CC)|
* p < .05
Regressions between WFC and each scale
|Regression||R squared||F ratio||P value|
|Work-family Conflict vs. Life Satisfaction||0.131||14.327||0.000|
|Work-family Conflict vs. Job Satisfaction||0.085||8.867||0.004|
|Work-family Conflict vs. Job Burnout||0.235||28.233||0.000|
|Work-family Conflict vs. Career Commitment||0.156||17.214||0.000|
Laura M. Hatfield, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Sport Management
University of West Georgia
Carrollton, GA 30118-1100
Laura M. Hatfield (Ph.D., University of Southern Mississippi) is an assistant professor of sport management in the Department of Leadership and Applied Instruction at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, GA. She teaches undergraduate courses organizational theory, organizational behavior, and communications. Her research interests include work-family conflict, organizational communication, and the scholarship of teaching.
Jeffrey T. Johnson (Ph.D., Georgia State University) is an associate professor of sports science in the Department of Leadership and Applied Instruction at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, GA. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, and exercise physiology. His research interests include pathological walking and running, sport mechanics, and work-family conflict.