Elite sport hubs during COVID-19: The job demands and resources that exist for athletes
journal contributionposted on 2022-10-26, 00:45 authored by Samantha MarshallSamantha Marshall, Nicola-Jane McNeilNicola-Jane McNeil, EL Seal, Matthew NicholsonMatthew Nicholson
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, elite sport leagues implemented hubs, or 'bubbles', which restricted athletes' movements and social interactions in order to minimise the risk of athlete infection and allow competitions to continue. This was a new way of working and living for elite athletes and there was a dearth of literature on this topic. The main objective of the study was to investigate the impacts of the hub model on athletes over time, and what job demands and resources existed for athletes through the application of Demerouti et al. (2001) Job Demands-Resources Model. Multiple sequential semi-structured interviews were conducted with Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) athletes during the 2020 season, which was held entirely in a hub in North Queensland, Australia. The key job demands in an elite sport hub identified were the volume of work, simultaneous overload and underload, and nature of work in the hub. The key resources that emerged include recovery services, control and player agency, and constructive social relations. Despite the presence of job resources, which work to counteract, or buffer job demands in order to reduce work stress and improve motivation, they were found to be insufficient for athletes and inequitably distributed between clubs. The intensity of the hub model also amplified demands present in all WNBL seasons. This research is therefore useful for planning of future elite sport leagues to improve the type and amount of resources available to athletes, thereby improving athlete wellbeing and performance both within and outside a hub model.