Findings in Sport, Hospitality, Entertainment, and Event Management

Streaming Media


Background: Students who have participated in an experiential learning project are better prepared and have a superior internship because of the experience. Furthermore, students can increase their diversity-related competencies by developing interpersonal skills through exposure to diverse cultural identities. Purpose: Guided by intergroup contact theory, the purpose of this study was to explore the impact of an experiential learning project for a Special Olympics basketball event on undergraduate sport management student’s development of diversity-related competencies. Methodology/Approach: Participants included eight undergraduate sport management students from a Midwestern university who participated in the project as part of a sport management curriculum. Retrospective interviews were conducted with the participants to explore their understanding and acceptance of the Special Olympics movement and recommendations for future course projects. Findings/Conclusions: Thematic analysis was employed and the results concluded that experiential learning was a productive and effective way to build diversity-related competencies with undergraduate sport management students. Implications: Facilitated intergroup contact among sport management professionals can provide opportunities for developing diversity-related competencies, reducing biases, and growing sports and physical activity for individuals with intellectual, cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities. Future research may benefit from longitudinally assessing student’s prior knowledge, attitudes and prejudices regarding intellectual disability across time.