Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Strategic Communication

First Advisor

Keith Weber, Ed.D., Chair

Second Advisor

Jennifer H. Waldeck, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sara LaBelle, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Zac D. Johnson, Ph.D.


Sports can significantly influence the lives of those who play them. Psychosocial outcomes such as values, skills, self-esteem, and goal setting are some of the referenced benefits associated with playing sports and are the result of athletes being exposed to situations in an environment that is favorable to learning. Due to the abundant nature of sports in the United States, there is a growing need to understand how to effectively create environments that are conducive to positive outcomes. However, such results and experiences are often anecdotally supported rather than scientifically driven. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was two-fold. First, it looked to develop and validate a reliable measure (i.e., Learned Lessons in Sport; LLS) to assess athlete’s perceptions that participating in sports led to their learning of valuable skills that transcend the sporting context. Second, it attempts to provide an empirical explanation and model to discern and assess how coaches’ communication affects a set of variables acting on learned lessons in sport. The designed measure and models serve to demonstrate the inherently communicative nature of sport and athlete development and identify the intersection of individual development and human growth that is the effect of playing sports. Using factor analytic techniques and serial mediation, three studies were conducted. Results of Study One (N = 207) and Study Two (N = 206), via exploratory factor analytics and confirmatory factor analytics, successfully developed and validated the LLS scale that assesses an athlete’s perception of their learning lessons through sport. The third study (N = 636) proposed and tested a model to demonstrate how coaches’ communication significantly affects a set of variables, such as values, orientation, and attitudes, that act on learned lessons via serial mediation. Results of Study Three support the proposed relationships but the data was not an overall good fit for the model and a revised model is proposed. Overall, this dissertation contributes to the growing field of sport communication and provides implications for stakeholders invested in creating meaningful environments for athletes to compete in.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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