Background of the Study
In every culture, there are hours when people are not required to engage in paid work, household chores or school work. Jones, Kennaugh and Ross (1996) revealed that the hours available to individual when the disciplines of work, sleep and other basic necessities have been met are referred to as leisure time. Opadiji (2002) stated that people need to make time for the kind of activity that will help them to recreate their mind and body. Uti and Ojeme (2003) maintained that everyone must have time for work and time for leisure. The amount of leisure available to people has now increased through the invention of many modern time saving devices (Ward, Higson & Campbell 1994). It is during the leisure hours according to Ehanmo (1995) that people especially students engage in wholesome activities of interest which their academic engagement denies them of. In other words, the students have complete choice of what to do during their leisure time, recreation therefore has become a veritable life pursuits that can help the students to spend their time and energy in most satisfying and refreshing manner.
Nwankwo (1988) viewed recreation as socially acceptable activities voluntarily engaged in during one’s free or leisure time which is worthwhile and gives satisfaction. Okafor (1988) added that recreation is a playful and relaxing activity outside one’s professional area of specialization. He revealed further that recreation is aimed at occupying the participant in activities and manners different from his occupational duties. Recreation according to Umeakuka (2002) is a wide range of activities acceptable to the society in which people voluntarily engage during their leisure time because of the satisfaction they receive from doing it. Those activities are also referred to as their pursuits.
A pursuit therefore is referred to as any activity which one gives his time (Walkins and Watkins 1990). Geddas and Grosset (2005) viewed pursuits as pastime activities. From the foregoing submission, recreational pursuits could be described as activities one is involved in during recreation. Opadiji (2002) disclosed that there are various forms of recreational activities which constitute students’ recreational pursuits. The common recreational activities according to Uti and Ojeme (2003) include gardening, camp fire, fishing, dancing, listening to music, canoeing, hiking, craft and art work, visiting, swimming, field trip and picnics. In a similar vein, Kpum and Egwu (2006) held that in order to help students develop their talents, abilities and potentialities to the fullest, schools should establish and encourage the students to enroll in such recreational activities like chess, habitat, philatelia, speech and debating, photography, music, literacy, jet club and brain cracker among others.
Siedentop (1998) revealed the values inherent in recreational pursuits. He contended that recreation enables college students to achieve physical grace psychological ease and personal integrity. Ottong and Charles (2000) reiterated that recreation provides the major channel of youth development through civic education, leadership training, character building and community service. Quality recreation and general physical activities have beneficial effects on students’ psychological well being, self-esteem, over weight and obesity (Cavil, Biddle and Sallis 2001). Mclaughlin (2002) stated that adolescent students who participate regularly in community based recreational programme experience better academic and social outcome including higher grade and career aspiration. Recreational pursuits according to Vansteenkistle, Simons and Kens (2004) are associated with increased effort in performance and persistence in doing things which contribute to successful accomplishment of school work. Oke (2006) acknowledged the buffering effects and opportunities for social support inherent in recreation. He pointed out that recreational pursuits provide opportunities for students to discuss matters that affect their common interests and life situations.
Despite the fact that active recreational lifestyle is associated with positive health and social benefit, there exists some factors that are known to have great influence on the effective participation of students in recreational pursuits. Demographic variables have been identified as common variables that influence the students’ effective participation in recreational pursuits. More so, the influence has been more particularly pronounced among the students of Federal College of Education in North Central Zone of Nigeria.
Sills (1972) stated that demography is concerned with the population structure consisting of the age, sex, marital composition and other factors. Goetz (2005) contended that demography refers to the statistical study of human population especially with reference to the size and density, distribution and vital statistics of birth, marriage, death and diseases. Welk (1999) held that recreation is a multi-factoral behaviour that is influenced by psychological, social, environmental and demographic variables. This study is meant to ascertain the demographic factors influencing the students’ recreational pursuits. Therefore demography as applied to this study has to do with the social and population characteristics (dynamics) of the students which correlate with their recreational pursuits. Specifically the study will investigate the demographic variables (factors) of age, gender, religious affiliation, year of study and marital status of the students and their influence on recreational pursuits.
London Social Survey Division (1986) pointed out that there is a general decline in active recreational pursuits with increasing age. The survey further submitted that some home based activities such as gardening, art, and craftwork among others are most popular among the middle aged. Torkildson (1992) contended that age has important influence on students’ recreational pursuits but the effects according to him depend on the individual and the type of activities. Activities differ in strength and specialized skills they require. Sleap and Tolfrey (2001) discovered that young students are more active when cumulative activity of less stringent intensity threshold is incorporated into their recreational programme. The desire for new activity varies within age group. People in their mid-adult years and the baby boomers have different recreational experiences and skills than what their parents did at that age (Warnick 1987). Jackson (1989) found out that students who are currently quite active are often more likely to desire a new activity than young students with lower level of activity. This is irrespective of the type of recreational activity.
The type of recreational pursuit is also influenced by marital status. Single students are more likely to go to dance or club while married people are more likely to visit the seaside (Torkildson, 1992). Also single students are more disposed to encountering variety with much more freedom in choice of activities than the married who have to contend with the family chores in addition to recreational pursuits. Gregory (1993) revealed that married women integrate recreation with family and community obligation as well paid employment. Lawton, Ahmad, Hanna, Douglas and Hallowell (2006) reported that many married Indian and Parkistan complained of how domestic chores and other family responsibilities pose great restriction to their leisure pursuit.
The issue of gender in recreational pursuits has generated a lot of controversy and misconception. Anyanwu (1980) maintained that the pattern of women’s participation in recreation has all along been punctuated by a lot of cultural practice, false assumption, prejudice and even myth. According to him, right from time, male superiority over the female has been part of the culture of the society. Dubois (1990) added that male and female students shift orientation on the range of value depending on the activity structure. Harold (1991) reported that college girls see themselves as less able in sports and physical recreation while boys recognize them as channel of acquiring popularity. Greendorfer (1992) led credence to the earlier claim with a submission that gender differences in variety of behavioural preference and style of living is the outcome of socialization pattern of the society. Trost and Ward (1999) remarked that the interest and activity level of college girls decline at greater rate than the boys. Despite the persistent male dominance, Dada (2005) observed that Nigerian women including college girls have steadily continued to make an impact in recreational pursuits.
In addition to gender factor, religious affiliation is known to have considerable influence on recreational pursuits of the students in various dimensions. Most forms of individual religious experiences such as contemplation, meditation and prayer have been closely associated with some form of recreation involving rest, relaxation and personal renewal. Dahl (1972) revealed that many of the common religious activities such as ceremonies, festivals, revivals, pilgrimages, retreats and conferences have provided the opportunities for both quality recreational interaction and disciplined self expression. He maintained that religion is a very significant factor in motivating people to spend their leisure in voluntary service. It also encourages personal dedication and discipline with which people engage in sports, craft, and travel. The two common religious groups which the students identify with are Christianity and Islam.
Bucher (1979) held that early Christianity never allowed physical education and recreation to be part of school curriculum. He also pointed out that Puritan in the United State denounced recreation as unnecessary and evil. Benneth, Howell and Simri (1983) revealed that Islam forbids co-recreational activities and it also requires girls at the age of puberty to wear long dresses and cover their faces whenever they appear in public. Hordges (2001) revealed that some students’ opportunity for participation in recreational activities are usually restricted due to religious and cultural belief. More worrisome is the practice of purdah system among Muslim community in Northern Nigeria which is the extreme form of exclusion or denial of participation and right of woman (Abubakar 1990). Islam and Christianity believe in body mortification through self denial and nutritional abstinence which have negative impact in comprehensive recreational pursuits Kraus (1982). In spite of this, Ogu and Umeakuka (2005) recognized religious affiliation and recreation as agents of social rejuvenation. Today’s religious festivals exhibited through dance, choreography, biblical and quranic recitation, choral songs, music, stories, volunteering and counselling have advanced the course of recreational pursuits prevalent among Christian and Muslim students as well as other adherents.