Understanding the Puppet Master: An analysis of a performing other in a trans-American charity running event

Michelle McAlarnen, West Virginia University, USA
Chelsea Wooding, West Virginia University, USA

Theme: Novel applications (music, dance, military)

Program ID: LEC-15C

Presentation: October 5, 2013 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Room: Melrose


Researchers in sport performance often focus on central performers to understand characteristics that influence achievement. However, few performers succeed without the assistance of others, whose direct support contributes to the performers’ accomplishments. Previous research and autobiographies have highlighted the experience of the individual participating in trans-American and charity running events (Bull, 1989; Filo, Funk, O’Brien, 2009; Karnazes, 2006), but provide limited insight into the experience of those in supporting roles. Social support has been established as a key ingredient in performance success (Freeman, Rees, & Hardy, 2009); however, the current study delves deeper into the current understanding of social support. Using a systems theory approach (Prochaska & Norcross, 2010), this lecture aims to explore the experience of Tiffany, a “performing other,” as one element within a trans-American charity running event. The researchers employed a qualitative, case study research design. Following a mixed-methods approach, two phenomenological interviews (Dale, 1996) occurred at three time points: before, during, and after a trans-American charity run. Throughout interviews, her emotional experience was captured through frequency counts. Weekly updates gathered through email during the run were also analyzed. All data were individually coded (Coté, Salmela, Baria, & Russell, 1993) among three researchers, and inter-rater reliability reached 95%. Results suggest that the prominence of roles, relationships, and emotional experiences change based on the stage of the event. These variables appear in pairs that can be conceptualized as Wife-Crew Leader, Self-Others, Marriage Relationship-Business Relationship, Control-Lack of Control, and Confidence-Unknowns. The results of the emotional frequency count will be discussed in relation to the aforementioned pairs. This research may: (a) benefit individual trans-Am charity runners through understanding performing others’ experiences, (b) help improve performing others’ psychological well-being, (c) initiate research of performing others in other performance contexts, and (d) assist performance psychology practitioners in work with all performers.

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