Andre George Simmond, Seomgyun Lee, Kofan Lee, Thomas Andre, Kaitlyn Armstrong. University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS.

BACKGROUND: Sports are often viewed as a neutral setting that leaves behind the real-world issues (e.g., injustice, politics) (Sage,1998). That view has changed with athletes using their voices to speak on issues outside of the context of sport (Kluch, 2020). With these changes it is important to better understand organizational and, more importantly, team environments that are conducive to these changes. Environments are essential in the development of college athletes. The purpose of the current study was to examine the predictability of psychological safety on athletes’ social justice activism, athletic satisfaction, and psychological well-being. METHODS: Data was collected using a cross-sectional survey from a sample of college athletes (n = 60) from various NCAA Division I, II and III institutions located in the southeastern, southwestern, western, midwestern and northeastern regions of the United States. RESULTS: Partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) was employed to test the hypothesized relationships. Using a nonparametric bootstrapping procedure with 5,000 resamples, the t-statistic was calculated to test the hypothesized relationships. The paths from psychological safety to attitudes toward social justice (H1a: β = 0.767, t = 9.959) and from psychological safety to subjective norms (H1b: β = 0.669, t = 6.205) were positive and statistically significant (p < 0.001) in the hypothesized directions. The direct path from psychological safety to psychological wellbeing (β = 0.757, t = 10.309, p < 0.001) was also positive and significant, thus supporting Hypothesis 2. The effect of psychological safety on athletic satisfaction was significant and positive (β = 0.797, t = 12.374, p < 0.001), confirming Hypothesis 3. Psychological safety explained 59%, 45%, 64%, and 57% of the variance in attitudes toward social justice, subjective norms, athletic satisfaction, and psychological wellbeing, respectively, indicating the explanatory power of psychology safety on outcome variables. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that creating a psychologically safe environment will allow athletes to flourish on and off of the field without explicitly addressing polaristic issues (e.g., social justice activism). The findings are seminal and allow for further research to examine psychological safety and the positive benefits at the team and organizational levels.

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