|dc.description.abstract||It is evident that throughout human history, the spirit of adventure and the need for survival, to explore the unknown and to push the limits of our being have propelled us forward constantly. If it were not for those adventure seekers who came before us, we would not have achieved the marvels of today. Modern living has brought many benefits such as global communication and instant access to information and to one another, which help to improve our overall quality of life. However, the demands on human work performance have also risen sharply, with said benefits leading to an increase in stress, especially in urbanised countries, which detracts from our overall quality of life.
It is evident that the comforts of modern living have taken from us the basic need to be adventurous, though. This is one of the important reasons for the growth of adventure sports, which has become a way for society to deal with the increased stresses of modern living. Participation in adventure sports forces the body to release adrenaline and endorphins that serve as natural narcotics, help to reduce pain and stimulate a feeling of bliss. Humans are by nature social and seek interpersonal communication and opportunities to bond and socialise. What better way to feed this human need for adventure, socialisation and camaraderie than simulated combat. However, there is a lack of understanding in literature as to why individuals participate in such adventure (combat) sports. The research undertook to identify the aspects that motivate participation and the effects on participant‟s quality of life. By showing the positive affect aspects thereof the allure of such adventure sports can be increased.
Paintball is one of two (modern) adventure combat sports (airsoft being the other) that simulate modern armed conflict without the associated bloodshed; in this sport, teams compete for domination and attempt to „mark‟ opposing players, thereby eliminating them from the game. The goal of this study was to develop a quality-of-life framework for an adventure-based sport, namely paintball. To achieve said goal, the author first conducted interviews with 12 paintballers from across the globe. Preceding the survey, an extensive marketing campaign, targeting paintballers via Facebook, was done by stating the goal of the study and encouraging them to join the dedicated Facebook group Global Paintball Research Project. The self-administered questionnaire was made available via the group page and ran between 1 July 2016 and 31 July 2016. More than 2 000 paintballers joined the group page, of which 506 completed the online survey. To fulfil the goal of the study (cf. 1.4.1), the author set the following five objectives:
The first objective (cf. 1.4.2) was to analyse popular theoretical frameworks of quality of life, leisure and activities related to the study. This was achieved in Chapter 2 (cf. 2.1) through an extensive analysis of related literature, which provided the theoretical framework of quality of life, leisure and activities that were relevant to adventure sports. The framework postulated that the effect of an adventure-based sport experience (paintball) on a participant‟s quality of life might influence several life domains, for example social, emotional, health and safety, financial, leisure, travel and family life, which could then determine a participant‟s overall quality of life.
The second objective (cf. 1.4.2) was to analyse quality of life in relation to adventure sports by means of a literature review. This analysis was assigned to Chapter 3 (cf. 3.1). The first step was to understand the concept of „quality of life‟, based on its historic origins, followed by a review of the life domains that are most suitable to adventure sport. Concepts of quality of life were compared and the psychology of quality of life was explored. An analysis on the relationship between quality of life and leisure, sport and adventure was conducted to determine how an adventure-based sport can enhance a participant‟s overall quality of life.
The third objective (cf. 1.4.2) was to analyse leisure, adventure sport and the adventure sport experience by means of a literature review. This was achieved as part of Chapter 4 (cf. 4.1) by first reviewing the history of leisure in the Western world and the various ways in which leisure can be defined. This was followed by a theoretical explanation of leisure in society. The relationship between leisure, play, recreation and tourism was examined, which helped to position adventure sport as a subsection of recreation and leisure. Adventure sport was investigated to determine its rise and nature. Paintball‟s place in adventure sport was clarified, followed by an analysis of the adventure sport experience, based on the experiences in tourism, sport and adventure. Popular experience themes found in tourism and adventure were analysed in conjunction with themes that were identified as part of the paintball experience, which led to the creation of unique themes for adventure sport that were tested in the empirical study.
The fourth objective (cf. 1.4.2) was to provide the empirical results of the study, contained in Chapter 5 (cf. 5.1). The author made use of a sequential exploratory mixed methods design that involved a qualitative section first, followed by a quantitative section. The qualitative section was carried out and interviews were transcribed. An analysis thereof was carried out, which helped to identify important aspects related to paintball as an adventure-based sport. The results of the online questionnaire were analysed by means of exploratory factor analysis, t-tests, analysis of variance and correlations, and presented as descriptive results. With the last section completed, the quality-of-life framework for an adventure-based sport was drawn up by means of a structural equation model, thereby achieving the main goal of the study.
The fifth objective was to provide the conclusions and recommendations, based on the literature and empirical findings provided in Chapters 2 to 5, all directed towards achieving a quality-of-life framework for an adventure-based sport. This was achieved as part of Chapter 6 (cf. 6.1). Also included are the limitations of the study and suggestions for future research, based on the empirical findings and the author‟s interpretation. The importance of the final model lies in the fact that it shows the successful combination of the bottom-up spillover theory and activity theory, and depicts the structural relationship represented by the linear relationship between adventure-based sport and quality of life. A groundbreaking contribution has been made to the field of adventure (combat) sport, based on the findings in Chapters 2 to 5 and the inclusion of a final, combined SEM presented in Chapter 6||en_US