Term of Award

2003

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Public Health

Committee Chair

Kevin L. Burke

Committee Member 1

A. Barry Joyner

Committee Member 2

Barry A. Munkasy

Abstract

Youth participation in organized physical activity has increased by more than 5 million in the last decade (Smith & Smoll, 2002). Of the 48 million youth 8 to 16 years old in the United States, 20 million participated in organized sport (Gould & Petlichkoff, 1998; Seefeldt & Ewing, 1997; Smith & Smoll, 2002). Currently, the average age for youth to begin participating in organized sports in, or outside of, school is 11 years old (Klint & Weiss, 1986; Smith & Smoll, 2002). Although participation rates have increased, there are significant numbers of youth who drop out of sport. Over one-third of all participants between the ages of 10 and 17 years of age withdraw from sport every year (Linder, Johns, & Butcher, 1991). Past research has shown there were gender differences in reasons for participating in sports and that boys were more likely than girls to participate in sports (Ewing, 1996). The purpose of this study was to investigate participation motives of youth in organized sports. The Participation Motivation Questionnaire (PMQ) (Gill, Gross, & Huddleston, 1983) was completed by 300 youth (129 girls, 171 boys) ranging in age from 10 to 18 years. The participants were mainly from the southeastern sections of the United States, excluding California and Arizona, and were partaking in a variety of (n = 15 sports) organized school (n = 71), non-school (n = 104), or both school and non-school sports (n=125). Participants responded using a three-point ordinal scale with choices of'very important,' 'somewhat important,' or 'not at all important.' The results indicated that youth placed high importance on having fun and developing skills when participating in organized sport. The results suggested that boys' participation in competitive sports was motivated by the need for achievement and social status, while girls primarily participated in sports for the friendship and social aspects. However, all youth athletes rated having fun as being 'somewhat important' and 'very important.' In addition, being with friends, making new friends, and the social aspects of sports were found to be important. There was a significant difference in what motivated younger verses older youth athletes. The younger youth athletes wanted to win, do something they were good at, and be part of a team. The older youth athletes were motivated to play organized sports to be with friends or make new friends, to exercise, to have something to do, to get out the house, to receive rewards, and to compete. In agreement with previous research, having fun remained an important motive for youth sport participation.

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