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“Adult and Child Perceptionsof Children’s Motivations to Participate in Youth Sports” Daniel Frankl, Ph.D. Department of Kinesiology and Nutritional science California State University, Los Angeles
INTRODUCTION • Describing the Problem • What has already been done and what have we learned from it? • Why was there a need for another study on attitudes about youth sports programs?
The Problem • Adult supervised non-school youth sports programs are rapidly growing and cater to some 25 million kids. • Almost 50% of the children ages 5-16 participate in youth sports. • 90% of parents encourage their children to engage in sports.
The Problem (continued) • 60% of parents are involved in youth sports programs. • 85% of parents have concerns about youth sports programs • Physical education professionals have voiced serious concerns about non-school adult supervised youth sport leagues .
HYPOTHESES • Over all children, regardless of income or ethnicity, will rank self-regulated items (e.g., “fun,” “learning new skills,” “improving,” and “team work”) ahead of other- controlled items (e.g., “winning,” “trophies,” “be popular,” and “get to a higher level of competition”). • Overall parents, regardless of income or ethnicity, will closely predict their child’s motivations. • Children will differ in their motivations to participate in youth sports based on age, gender, length of involvement, and type of activity.
What has already been done and what have we learned from it? A common sense approach to studying the value of youth sports has been to examine children’s motivations to join, participate enthusiastically, and/or drop out. A number of studies probed children’s motivation to participate in youth sports programs: Ewing & Seefeldt (1990) Gill, Gross, & Huddlestone (1981) Gould, Feltz, Weiss, & Petlichkoff (1982) Griffin (1978) McElroy & Kirkendal (1980) Sapp & Haubenstricker (1978) Swell (1992) Wankel & Kreisel (1985)
McElroy and Kirkendal (1980) 2,000+ children, average age 11.9 selected one of the following as their most important reason for playing a sport: • to defeat your opponent or the other team (winning orientation) • to play as well as you can (personal performance) • to play fairly, by the rules at all times (fair play) • everyone on the team should get to play (total participation)
McElroy and Kirkendal (1980) Most Important Reason for Playing Sports MalesFemales Winning13.5%04.6% Personal Perform.51.0%48.3% Fair Play24.4%37.6% Total Participation11.0% 09.4%
American Youth and Sport Participation StudyEwing & Seefeldt (1990) The Athletic Footwear Association commissioned Drs. Martha Ewing and Vern Seefeldt of the Youth Sport Institute at Michigan State University to investigate children’s reasons for participation and/or dropping out from nonschool youth programs. Boys’ and girls’ (N=10,000) were asked: • Why they participate? • Why they quit? • How they feel about winning?
American Youth and Sport Participation StudyEwing & Seefeldt (1990) Highlights of the Study: • Sport participation, and the desire to participate in sports, decline sharply and steadily between ages 10 and 18. • “Fun” is a pivotal reason for being in a sport, and lack of fun is a leading reason for dropping out. • Young participants do not consider winning as a major benefit of sport competition. • Motivations to participate differ greatly within and in between athletes.
REASON FOR PLAYINGREASON FOR DROPPING OUT 01TO HAVE FUN01I LOST INTEREST 02TO IMPROVE MY SKILLS02I WAS NOT HAVING FUN 03TO STAY IN SHAPE03IT TOOK TOO MUCH TIME 04TO DO SOMETHING04COACH WAS A POOR I’M GOOD ATTEACHER 05FOR THE EXCITEMENT OF05TOO MUCH PRESSURE (WORRY) COMPETITION 06TO GET EXERCISE06WANTED NON-SPORT ACTIVITY 07TO PLAY AS PART OF A07I WAS TIRED OF IT TEAM 08FOR THE CHALLENGE OF08NEEDED MORE STUDY TIME COMPETITION 09TO LEARN NEW SKILLS09COACH PLAYED FAVORITES 10TO WIN10SPORT WAS BORING 11OVER-EMPHASIS ON WINNING Reproduced from Ewing, M. E., & Seefeldt, V. (1990). American youth sports participation: A study of 10,000 students and their feelings about sport. North Palm Beach, FL: Athletic Footwear Association. CHILDREN’S RANK ORDER OF THE MOST IMPORTANT REASONS FOR PLAYING THEIR BEST SCHOOL SPORT OR DROPPING OUT FROM YOUTH SPORTS
BOYSGIRLS 01 TO HAVE FUN01 TO HAVE FUN 02 TO IMPROVE SKILLS02 TO STAY IN SHAPE 03FOR THE EXCITEMENT03TO GET EXERCISE OF COMPETITION 04TO DO SOMETHING04TO IMPROVE SKILLS I’M GOOD AT 05TO STAY IN SHAPE05TO DO SOMETHING I'M GOOD AT 06FOR THE CHALLENGE06TO BE PART OF A TEAM OF COMPETITION 07TO BE PART OF A TEAM07FOR THE EXCITEMENT OF COMPETITION 08TO WIN08TO LEARN NEW SKILLS 09TO GO TO A HIGHER09FOR THE TEAM SPIRIT LEVEL OF COMPETITION 10TO GET EXERCISE10FOR THE CHALLENGE OF COMPETITION 11 TO LEARN NEW SKILLS11TO GO TO A HIGHER LEVEL OF COMPETITION 12FOR THE TEAM SPIRIT12TO WIN Reproduced from Ewing, M. E., & Seefeldt, V. (1990) THE 12 MOST IMPORTANT REASONS I PLAY MY BEST SCHOOL SPORT
“I would play again if…” BOYSGIRLS 01 PRACTICES WERE01PRACTICES WERE MORE FUNMORE FUN 02 I COULD PLAY MORE02 NO CONFLICT WITH STUDIES 03COACHES UNDERSTOOD03 COACHES UNDERSTOOD PLAYERS BETTER PLAYERS BETTER 04NO CONFLICT WITH 04NO CONFLICT WITH SOCIAL STUDIES LIFE 05COACHES WERE BETTER05I COULD PLAY MORETEACHERS 06NO CONFLICT WITH06COACHES WERE BETTER SOCIAL LIFETEACHERS Reproduced from Ewing, M. E., & Seefeldt, V. (1990) THE 6 MOST IMPORTANT CHANGES I WOULD MAKE TO GET INVOLVED AGAIN IN A SPORT I DROPPED
METHOD Mothers (N=108), fathers (N=105), boys (N=170), and girls (N=171) from the Los Angeles area were surveyed during the 1996-97 youth leagues season (Total = 554 or 97.88%). Subjects (N=566) Ethnic Distribution African American (N=16; 2.87%) Asian (N=105; 18.85%) Latino/Latina (N=313; 56.19%) Caucasian (N=90; 16.16%) Pacific Islander (N=5; 0.90%) Native American (N=7; 1.25%) Filipino (N=21; 3.77%) TOTAL = 557 (99.99% / 98.4%)
Youth Sports (N=509; 89.93%) Fem. Male % Baseball/Softball 32 53 16.7 Basketball 48 48 18.8 Football 07 31 07.5 Soccer 25 73 19.2 Volleyball 31 07 07.5 Drill team 39 00 07.6 Swimming 30 11 08.0 Track 07 07 02.7 Tennis 33 08 08.0 Other 07 12 03.7
Parent Income (N=213; 84.04%) N% Under $10,000 1106.14 $10,000-$14,999 0502.79 $15,000-$19,999 0603.35 $20,000-$24,999 0703.91 $25,000-$29,999 1508.38 $30,000-$34,999 1307.26 $35,000-$39,999 2212.29 $40,000-$44,999 1810.06 $45,000-$49,999 2413.41 Over $50,000 5832.40 Total 179 99.99% 15
Instrument Child and parent forms each including 18 statements about “participation in one’s best sport outside school” were used (adapted from the AFA 1990, landmark study). Participants checked each item on a 1-7 (not at all important /.../ of utmost importance) Likert scale. Participants were also asked to select the “one MOST important reason…” from the 18 original statements (see handout). 16
Procedures • A uniform format explaining what needs to be done was used • Data was collected from children and their parents whenever possible • Yellow forms were handed out to children 5-18 (investigator read statements to non-readers; a Spanish translation was available when needed). Children were instructed to establish a “quick gut feeling about each item” and then proceed and carefully mark their choice. 17
Procedures • Parents completed a “Blue” form and were instructed to, without consulting with their child, indicate what “...to their best knowledge their child’s choice would have been for all items.” • Participants were instructed to simply “copy the ONE statement they felt was MOST important, or add a new reason. • Data was collected “court-side” on practice days and forms were coded for parent/child match pairing (no names).
RESULTS DAD BOY MOM GIRL 01Q14 (6.30) Q14 (6.14) Q14 (6.22) Q14 (6.19) 02 Q07 (5.84) Q01 (5.81) Q07 (5.99) Q04 (6.00) 03Q01 (5.65) Q07 (5.68) Q05 (5.87) Q01 (5.88) 04 Q05 (5.65) Q09 (5.66) Q11 (5.86) Q07 (5.87) 05 Q18 (5.52) Q06 (5.64) Q08 (5.62) Q18 (5.83) Q14 -- To have fun Q7 -- To learn new skills Q1 -- To improve her/his skills Q4 -- To stay in shape Q5 -- To play as part of a team Q11 -- To get exercise Q6 -- For the excitement of competition Q8 -- To meet new friends Q9 -- To do something he/she is good at Q18 -- For the team spirit
RESULTS DAD BOY MOM GIRL 10 Q03 (5.52) 11 12 13 Q02 (4.88) Q03 (4.78) 14 Q16 (4.70)Q16 (4.71) 15 Q16 (4.60) Q10 (4.76) Q13 (4.56) Q12 (4.56) 16 Q03 (4.38)Q16 (4.56) Q10 (3.91) Q02 (4.40) 17 Q10 (3.92) Q12 (4.49) Q03 (3.87) Q10 (4.27) 18Q17 (3.83) Q17 (4.44) Q17 (3.58) Q17 (3.64) Q2 -- To be with her/his friends Q3 -- To win Q10 -- For trophies and recognition Q12 -- To feel important Q13 -- For the challenge of competition Q16 -- He/she likes the coaches Q17 --To be popular by being a good athlete
Discussion • “To have fun” was the clear first choice for Moms, Dads, Girls and Boys. • “To learn new skills” was the second choice for Dads & Moms, and 3rd & 4th for Boys and Girls respectively. The findings by earlier studies (e.g., Ewing & Seefeldt, 1990; McElroy & Kirkendal, 1980) were replicated in this study. • “Winning came in 10th place for Boys, 13th for Girls, 16th for Dads and 17th for Moms. This finding is very consistent with the existing literature.
Discussion • “To stay in shape” and “To get exercise” were top choices for Girls and Moms. When asked to indicate what they liked least about their best sport, many Girls indicated their dislike of exercising, sweating, and getting tired. It appears that Girls in this study felt pressured to choose “To stay in shape” but did not like to engage in activities that lead to improved physical fitness. Societal pressures on girls to look a certain way are apparent.
Over all children, regardless of income or ethnicity, will rank self-regulated items (e.g., “fun,” “learning new skills,” “improving,” and “team work”) ahead of other- controlled items (e.g., “winning,” “trophies,” “be popular,” and “get to a higher level of competition”).
Conclusions • If it ain’t fun children won’t play. • For kids to have fun they must improve their skills. • Parents seem to want what we the “experts” consider appropriate. So let’s work together. • “Fun,” “improving skills,” “playing as a team,” getting in shape…,” are all universally endorsed by all levels of analysis. So let’s concentrate on the content of the programs and not the ethnic, social, and or economic factors. • Coaches seem to try too hard. Let’s get involved and show them the way!
Questions & Comments
List of Reasons for Participation • To improve her/his skills • To be with her/his friends • To win • To stay in shape • To play as part of a team • For the excitement of competition • To learn new skills • To meet new friends • To do something he/she is good at
List of Reasons for Participation • For trophies and recognition • To get exercise • To feel important • For the challenge of competition • To have fun • To get to a higher level of competition • He/she likes the coaches • To be popular by being a good athlete • For the team spirit
Overall Reason for Participation in Youth Sports • Of all the reasons listed above, what is the MOST important reason for your child playing in her/his best sport outside of school? Please write the reason on the lines below: ____________________________ ____________________________
Strongest Reason for not Participating in Youth Sports • What do you like least about playing in your best sport outside of school? Please write the reason on the lines below: ____________________________ ____________________________
References • Ewing, M. E. & Seefeldt, V. (1990). American youth and sports participation: A study of 10,000 students and their feelings about sport. North Palm Beach, FL: Athletic Footwear Association. (Sponsored by: Athletic Footwear Association __ AFA, 200 Castlewood Drive, North Palm Beach, Florida 33408; Gregg Hartley, Executive Director, phone # 407 840_1161). • Gill, D., Gross, J. B., & Huddlestone, S. (1981). Participation motivation in youth sport. International Journal in Sport Psychology, 14, 1-14.
References • Gould, D., Feltz, D. L., Weiss, M., & Petlichkoff, L. M. (1982). Participating motives in competitive youth swimmers. In T. Orlick, J. T. Partington, & J. H. Salmela (Eds.) Mental training for coaches and athletes (pp. 57-58). Ottawa: Coaching Association of Canada. • Griffin (1978). Why children participate in youth sports. Paper presented at American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (AAHPER) Convention, Kansas City, Missouri.
References • Orlick, T. (1974). The athletic dropout–A high price of inefficiency. CAHPER Journal, Nov.-Dec., 21-27. • Pooley, J. (1981). Dropouts from sports: A case study of boys’ age-group soccer. Paper presented at American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) Convention, Boston, Massachusetts.
References • Sapp, M., & Haubenstricker, J. (1978). Motivation for joining and reasons for not continuing in youth sports programs in Michigan. Paper presented at American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (AAHPER) Convention, Kansas City, Missouri. • Teenagers’ motivations for sports participation help predict lifelong habits. (1990). North Palm Beach, FL: Athletic Footware Association.
References • Wankel, L. M., & Kreisel, P. (1985). Factors underlying enjoyment of youth sports: Sport and age group comparisons. Journal of Sport Psychology, 7, 51-64.