Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

This essay may contain factual inaccuracies or out of date material. Please refer to an authoritative source if you require up-to-date information on any health or medical issue.

Research On Sport Participation Motives Psychology Essay

Info: 3931 words (16 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in Psychology

Reference this

Motivating factors are very important for one to take part in sport. On the other hand, they may not be why people start participates in sport, but often they are the reasons people to continue participating in sports (Wann, 1997). As for instance, one may start a sport programme to lose weight but through fitness experience, he/she learn how helpful sports can be in reducing mental and physical tensions or in improving the mood (Gavin, 1992). The reasons given by people to take part in sports are many such as mastery or cooperation, physically active lifestyle, competitiveness, enhance self-esteem and social status.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

Mastery or Cooperation

Motivating factors for participating in sports are various (Wann, 1997; Duda, 1989). They comprise having fun, pleasure and enjoyment (Weiss and Chaumeton, 1992; Theberge, 1984) and the pleasure of the action-oriented activities involved in sports (Pargman, 1998; Orlick and Botterill, 1975). Participating in sports for fun, pleasure, satisfaction and enjoyment are integrated in the factor of Mastery or Cooperation.

Orlick and Botterill (1975) found that most of the participants in their research cited having fun as the main motive for participating in sports. Furthermore, Sapp and Haubinstricker (1978) found in the research that 90% of their 570 subjects aged between 11 to 18 years participated in sports for fun. In a subsequent research, the motive of participating in sports for fun and friendship was found to be higher in female than male participant (Petlichkoff, 1982).

What do people find enjoyable about sport participation? This was the question asked by Wankel and Sefton (1989) in their investigation of 122 young athletes. These researchers found that the greatest predictor of fun was post game affective state. Happier players tended to have more fun. The second greatest predictor of fun involved self-perceptions of how well the player believed he or she had played during the game. Increases in perceptions of a well-played game corresponded with perceptions of having fun. A final significant predictor of fun was the perception that the contest was challenging (Wann, 1997).

Stimulus seeking involves an enjoyment of the challenges involved in sports (Wann, 1997). In fact, researchers, such as, Malone (1985), Zuckerman (1984), Straub (1982), all found that some people’s motive for participating in sports is stimulus seeking, that involves the enjoy of thrills, challenges and dangers that are associated with sports. Bakker, De Konning, Schenau, and De Groot (1993) investigated on young Dutch speed skaters and found that the act of the sport itself was the primary reason for enjoyment, that is, the fun, feelings, joy and emotions associated with the act of skating itself.

Moreover, many people begin to involve in sports programmes to improve their health or to lose weight, but few people continue these programmes unless they find a form of sports that they enjoy (Barnabas, 2002). Rather than engage in sports for its health benefits (Massie and Shephard, 1971), most people engage in sports activity over a long period of time because they have found something that give them a sense of fun or happiness. For example, runners continue to run because of fun and personal satisfaction they gain from running even if they found out that running was not good for them (Perry, 1987).

Cooperation in sports involves an individual’s desire to raise the performance of all as a group experience; cares of others, empathizes, congratulates others; looks forward to the next contest as an opportunity to partake in a new group enterprise. The major theme of cooperation is the psychological perception of the environment as supportive and interdependent with the self (Butt, 1987).

Physically Active Lifestyle

It is the motive to take part in sports for physical reasons, notably health, weight, or keeping fit (Wann, 1997). These include concerns about how we look, the enjoyment of sexual energy, and the desire to feel young and prevent signs of aging (Gavin, 1992). Physical fitness refers to the body’s movements, internal function, and its ability to satisfy daily physical challenges (Barnabas, 2002). Physical fitness implies the body’s preparedness to perform physically without succumbing unduly to fatigue. Physical fitness is a concept whose orientations are structural, biomechanical, and physiological. The most basic and practical concerns associated with fitness are with measureable functions such as muscular strength and endurance, pulse rate, oxygen consumption, and oxygen distributed to the body’s cells. Fitness is equated with common activities such as lifting, pushing, carrying, and sustaining physical effort. These activities are performed in response to specific demands associated with various circumstances and environments (Pargman, 1998). People choose physical fitness as a motive for participating in sports.

Citing the research of Sapp and Haubenstricker (1978), LeUnes and Nation (1989) note that approximately 50% of a large adolescent sample believed that physical fitness was important in their motives for participating in sports. In their research on young cricket players, Spink and Longhurst (1990) found that fitness was listed in the top half of possible motives. The importance of the physical fitness motives has been found in other researches as well (Buonamano, Cei, and Mussiono, 1995; Ogles, Masters, and Richardson, 1995; Floo and Hellstedt, 1991; Leonard, 1991; Clough, Shepherd and Maughen, 1989; Gill et al., 1983; Gould, Felz, Weiss and Petlichkoff, 1982) and may be a particularly powerful reason for participation among female athletes (Reis and Jelsma, 1980).

Anecdotal evidence (Nash, 1986) and results of surveys (McCutcheon and Hassini, 1981; Jorgenson and Jorgenson, 1979) indicate that runners perceive that taking part in sports promotes resistance to infection. Even though many biochemical studies have shown that sports involvement changes certain immune parameters, it has not been conclusively demonstrated that sports increases resistance to illness (Boutcher, 1991). Generally, the majority of studies examining the effects of sports on biochemical parameters of the immune system have indicated that moderate exercise can enhance certain immune parameters (Mackinnon and Tomasi, 1986). The most consistent changes in immune functions after take part in sports are an increase in white blood cells (Landman, Muller, Perini, Wesp, Erne, and Buhler, 1984; Soppi, Varjo, Eskola, and Laitinen, 1982; Hanson and Flaherty, 1981), an increase in antibodies (Hedfors, Biberfeld and Wahren, 1978; Hedfors, Holm and Ohnell, 1976) and natural killer cells (Pederson, Tvede, Christensen, Klarlund, Krgbak and Halkjr-Kristensen, 1989; Edwards, Bacon, Elms, Verardi, Felder, and Knight, 1984; Targan, Britvan and Dorey, 1981), and a redistribution of circulation lymphocytes (Tomasi, Trudeau, Czerwinski and Erredge, 1982). In addition, sports have other health benefits, such as, cardiovascular fitness, general physical and psychological health (Weinberg and Gould, 1995; Wilson, Berger and Bird, 1981).

Studies have shown that regular, appropriate sports activities or exercise is important to one’s overall health and fitness (Lesyk, 1998). According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (1996), regular sports activities that is performed on most days of the week reduces the risk of developing or dying from some of the leading causes of illness and death in the United States (Lesyk, 1998). Lesyk (1998) found regular sport activities improve health in the following ways:

1. Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.

2. Reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.

3. Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.

4. Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.

5. Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.

6. Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.

7. Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.

8. Helps control weight.

9. Helps building and maintain health bones, muscles, and joints.

10. Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling, and

11. Promotes psychological well-being.

International Society of Sports Psychology (1992) issued a position statement on sports and mental health that includes the following findings (Lesyk, 1998): 1. Sports is associated with reduces state anxiety. 2. Sports have been associated with a decreased level of mild to moderate depression. 3. Long-term sports are usually associated with reductions in traits such as neuroticism and anxiety. 4. Sports may be an adjunct to the professional treatment of severe depression. 5. Sports result in the reduction of various stress indices. 6. Sports have beneficial emotional effects across all ages and in both sexes.

Many researchers have tried to explain the relationship between sport participation and improved mental health (Cox, 1994). In fat, people who exercise regularly have been found to be both physically and mentally fit (Gavin, 1992). Other health benefits associated with regular take part in sports include reduction of depression, anxiety and confusion (North, MacCullagh, and Tran, 1990; Simons, Epstein, McGowan, Kupfer and Robertson, 1985).

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

Sport has also been acknowledged as a reliever of somatic symptoms of stress, such as muscle tension and increased heart rate (Pargman, 1998). There is evidence that emotions associated with stress responsively, such as anger and hostility may be reduced by participation in sports (Burchfield, 1979; Selye, 1976). However, the benefits of sports on stress reduction may vary with regard to type of sports as well as its intensity and duration (Berger and Owen, 1998). Other researches suggest that perceptions about the intensity and frequency of stressors are different in those who take part in sports (regardless of the nature of the activity) than in those who do not take part in sports (Gill, 1989; Roth and Holmes, 1985).


Competitiveness is defined as a disposition to strive for satisfaction when making comparisons with some standard or excellence when being evaluated by other people (Martens, 1976). Marten’s definition of competitiveness is limited to those situations where a person is evaluated by or has the potential to be evaluated by people with knowledge in sports. However, competition does not always involved evaluation by others. For example, may people compete with themselves by trying to exceed their own running time from the previous day, even when no one else evaluates their performance (Weinberg and Gould, 1995).

Competition, however, becomes a major motive in contests where the aim is to win over others. The individual wants to defeat others, to be number one, to have rivals; sees the environment as competitive and resents others competitors; sees others as tring to hold him or her back (Weinberg and Gould, 1995). The individual’s own object is to win, often at all costs. The major theme of competition is the psychological perception of the environment as an adversary over which one must triumph or suffer defeat as a consequence (Butt, 1987).

A person’s competitiveness and achievement motivation influence a wide variety of behaviors, thoughts, and feeling, which are related to participation in sports. They include the following: choice of activity (for example, seeking out opponents of equal ability to compete against or looking for players greater or lesser ability to play with); effort to pursue goals (for example, how often you practice); intensity of effort in the pursuit of goals (for example, how consistently hard try during a workout) and persistence in the face of failure and adversity (for example, when the going gets tough do you work harder or take it easier?).

Risk-taking is one characteristic of highly successful competitors (Wann, 997; Gavin, 1992). Risk-taking is defined in most dictionaries as a dangerous element or factor, which involves the possibility of injury, danger, or peril. In sport, risk-taking has been associated with physical injury during competitive athletics. Risk-taking is a function of narrowing the margin of safety, both physically in terms of bodily harm and psychologically in terms of the probability of success or failure (Anshel, 1994). Malone (1985) review of literature on risk-taking in sport concluded that athlete’s perception of danger creates excitement and a desire to master the environment. Sport scientists have studied the tendency of highly skilled athletes to engage in more risk taking behaviors that can lead to bodily harm or failure-compare to less skilled competitors (Anshel, 1994).

Enhance Self Esteem

Many studies have concluded that sports can affect mental health (Sachs and Buffone, 1984). An important dimension of mental health relates to perceptions about the self, and evidence suggests that participation in sports programmes can be beneficially modify self-perceptions. For instance, Hanson and Nedde (1974) observed that self-concept changes in a positive direction in adult female subjects who are involved in sports. Berger (1984) reported positive changes for self-concept, self-esteem, and body concept in females who run regularly. Feltz (1988) also described the positive impact of sports upon various perceptions pertaining to the self. Other researchers have contributed findings that support this relationship. Perceptions about the self can be modified, and sports participation in sports. Self-esteem is whether you have positive or negative feelings about yourself (Gavin, 1992).

Furthermore, Bandura (1977) explained that when people master as sports-task they perceive to be difficult, they experience an increase in self-esteem. Those who never take part in sports perceive sports as a difficult task. When those who never take part in sports succeeds in becoming a regular take part in sport, he or she experiences a feeling of accomplishment and self-esteem. An increase in self-esteem helps to break the downward spiral of negative feeling effect associated with depression, anxiety and other negative mood states (Cox, 1994).

In this body-conscious society, body esteem forms a major slice of overall self-esteem. In fact, a June, 1990 Self-magazine survey report showed that 41% of survey respondents connected their self-esteem directly to their body image (Gavin, 1992).

Social Status or Getting Ahead

A social motive is an interest in people and the ways a person prefer to other people (Wann, 1997). As social beings, humans have a desire to be with others and to function as members of groups. Whether one like to be alone or with others, whether or not one enjoy competition, or how will one express his or her needs to others represent aspects of their social nature, and motive for taking part in sports. If, for example, you enjoy competition, think of all the opportunities sport presents for you to satisfy this desire (Gavin, 1992), then you are interested in social motives for participating in sports. For the most part, one’s motivation to take part in sports will derive from something relating to a social motive (Gavin, 1992).

For many people, the social aspects of sports are important reason for their participation. Social reasons for physical activity range from meeting new people to deal with loneliness and social isolation. The relaxed atmosphere of a fitness class makes social interaction easier for some people (Weinberg and Gould, 1995). Sharing the group sports experience often leads to camaraderie and friendship among regular participants. Opportunities for socializing occur before, during, and after participation. Indeed, the socializing associated with some activities has become institutionalized (Gavin, 1992;).

Regular participants often observe how much more enjoyable the experience of participation is when they take part in sports with other people. For example, Heinzelmann and Bagley (1970) found that almost 90% of their 195 programme participants preferred to take part in sport with someone else or with a group rather than work out alone. They also found that when people take part in sports together, they enjoy the experiences more, derive social support, feel a sense of personal commitment to continue, and welcome the opportunity to compare their progress and level of fitness with the other participants.

The companionship that often comes of shared participation in sports may lead to long-term friendships and mutual self-esteem (Willis and Campbell, 1992). Snyder and Spreitzer (1979) found that for golf partners who play at a regular time for many years, social attachment becomes the primary factor in their continued participation. In such groups, the absence of a member is keenly felt and the permanent loss of a group member has a lasting effect on those remaining. Social experience as an important motive for participation is evident at all ages (Heitmann, 1986; Passer, 1981). For example, college students, both athletes and non-athletes, have indicated that social interaction is an important part of their attraction to sport. Students value the opportunities to interact and form relationships (Mathes and Battista, 1985). Older adults also identify social motive slightly higher than men do (Biddle and Bailey, 1985; Mathes and Battista, 1985). From the foregoing, it is clear that social motives are important in a person’s decision to take part in sports.

This desire to fit in can be especially important to youngsters as they try to interact with other people (Miracle and Rees, 1994; Williams and White, 1983). Group membership acquired through sports participation allows children to be accepted by their peers, extend their social networks, and give them a sense of belonging (Alderman, 1978). In fact, researchers (Alderman, 1978; Alderman and Wood, 1976) found that the social motive was the most important reason for youth sports participation. Socialization, or the desire to be part of a team, to be with friends, or to make new friends, is a leading motive for participation in youth sports (Gould and Horn, 1984; Passer, 1981).

Loneliness and ill health, has been found to be associated (North et. al., 1990). However, sports serve as a cure for loneliness (Cox, 1994; North et. al., 1990). This is achieved through the social interaction that comes through sports with relatives, friends and colleagues (Cox, 1994). Social interaction achieved through sports also improves mental health (North et.al., 1990).

In addition, the sport participation motives inventories have been also studied. The next section discusses the sport participation motives inventories.

Sport Participation Motives Inventories

This section presents a few inventories that have been used to be measure sport participation motives. Gill et al. (1983) developed a questionnaire called Participation Motivation Questionnaire (PMQ) to investigate young athletes motives for taking part in sports. The following motives for participation in sports have been identified by researchers: they include “to learn new skills”, “improve existing sport skills”, “fun and enjoy”, “physically fit”, “health reasons”, “for challenge and excitement”, “competition”, “team atmosphere” and “for socialization” (Gill et al., 1983; Gould et al., 1985; Weiss and Petlichoff, 1989).

Participation Motivation Inventory (Gill, et al., 1983) was used to examine the sports participation motives of young athletes who differed in their perceived physical abilities (Rychman and Hamel, 1993). The results indicated that athletes higher in perceived physical ability considered skill development, team affiliation, and having fun as more important reasons for participating in sports than athletes lower in perceived physical ability. No differences between athletes high and low in perceived physical ability were found in their importance ratings for motives associated with achievements or status, friendship, fitness, and energy release. Athletes higher in perceived physical ability generally rated intrinsic factors (wanting to learn new skills, having fun, liking the excitement and action of the activity) as more important than extrinsic factors (wanting to win, wanting to gain status, pleasing parents or friends, liking the coaches), in comparison to athletes lower in perceived physical ability.

Gill and Deeter (1988) developed a sport-specific measure of achievement orientation called the Sport Orientation Questionnaire (SOQ). The SOQ contains 25 Likert-scale items that are combined to form three subscales: competitiveness, the desire to win, and the esire to reach the personal goals.

Harter (1981) theorized that perceptions of competence influence sports participation motives. She developed the Perceived Competence Scale to assess perceived competence. One of the four subscales of this instrument is the Perceived Physical Competence Subscale, which assesses sense of competence across the cognitive, social, and physical domains. Klint and Weiss (1987) affirmed selected aspects of Harter’s Competence Motivation Theory and concluded that it clarifies the relationship between perceptions about self-competence and particular motivations for participation in sport. People who viewed themselves as having physical competence rated skill development considerations as more important than those who felt their physical competence was low.

Recently, Pelletier and his associates (Fortier, Vallerand, Briere and Provencher, 1995) developed Sport Motivation Scale (SMS), measuring intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation and amotivation in sport participation motives. A motivation occurs when athletes no longer perceive a link between actions and outcomes. Subsequently, they experience a sense of incompetence and a lack of control. The authors noted that when athletes experience of amotivation, they are no longer able to cite reasons for participating in sport and likely to discontinue their participation (Pelletier, Fortier, Vallerand, Tuson, Briere and Blais, 1995). However, because the SMS is still new, there is little empirical research documenting the reliability and validity of the scale.

Kenyon (1968) developed an instrument to measure sport participation motives. This instrument, or modifications of it, has been used in many of the studies on participation motives. One of the earlier studies using Kenyon’s instrument for measuring attitudes employed 699 male college student-athletes (Dotson and Stanley, 1972). These students chose pursuit of vertigo, catharsis, and social interaction as the strongest perceived values of physical activity. Ascetic, fitness, and aesthetic outcomes were the lowest ranked values in the study. Adamson and Wade (1986) used a modified version of the instrument to study participation motives of Australia health science students. They found that the most important motives were to become fit, to maintain a healthy lifestyle, to have fun, and to meet people.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: