Motives of mature-age individuals for participating in competitive sports : a case study for masters squash

  • Heather Diane Campbell

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The purpose of this study was threefold. Primarily it was to identify the underlying motivational influences determining why mature age men and women continue playing sport competitively, long after they have reached their peak performance level. Secondly, the study sought to ascertain whether there was a change in specific temperament attributes, such as competitiveness, as Squash players became older, and whether any changes were restricted primarily to the sporting environment, or did changes pervade other areas of the individuals' lives. The third purpose of the study was to design a new measurement instrument for use in effectively identifying the primary motivations of mature age squash participants within Australia. The research study comprised a multi-system methodology which allowed for triangulation analysis of results. It involved both quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches, with four phases of investigation. The first phase focused on the development of a new motivation measurement instrument, titled Masters Sport Motivation Inventory (MSMI). The second phase involved a Pilot study aimed at implementing the MSMI instrument and evaluating it for validity and reliability, and sampled mature-age participants from nine different sports. The outcomes ofthe Pilot study demonstrated validity and reliability of the MSMI instrument. The third phase of the research comprised the main area of investigation, which was to examine the motivations of Masters squash players in Australia. It used the MSMI instrument to obtain relevant data concerning the motivation of this cohort of sports competitors. The fourth phase comprised in-depth personal interviews from Australian Masters squash players. Interviewees had the opportunity to provide a greater insight into the importance of continued sporting participation into their older adult years. The MSMI data for both the Pilot and Main studies was analysed with the SPSS 15 analysis program. It was determined that there were 12 logical and interpretable motivational factors that were relevant to mature-age sports people and Australian Masters squash players. The results of the quantitative approach generally concurred with the outcomes derived from previous research which has examined the motivations of mature-age athletes, which found that health, enjoyment, fitness and competitiveness were highly relevant motives. In addition, this study extended the outcomes to include other motives viewed as being important to older athletes' sporting aspirations, such as self-awareness, team, aesthetics, skill, stress, recognition, social, and travel. The interview information was examined in two ways. Firstly, it was examined manually by the researcher. The material obtained during the interview process was classified according to groups of responses with similarities in contextual meaning, and the descriptive response data were calculated in the form of manual frequencies and percentages. Winning was the primary motive/outcome. Interview responses were also examined via an analysis program called Leximancer, and results revealed that differences in responses among mature-age squash players based on gender, age-class and ability level were minimal. Interview results indicated that many Masters squash players in Australia were still highly competitive, still very determined to win their matches, and still very focused on their goals and game plans. The motives derived from the Masters squash players involved in the qualitative approach generally concurred with the outcomes derived from the quantitative approach, thereby adding consistency and outcome strength to the overall research. The opportunity for mature-age squash participants to elaborate on their feelings, sporting goals and motivations to continue playing their chosen sport enabled a greater depth and wealth of relevant information to be examined, and revealed a change in motivational emphasis from health and fitness issues to competitive and win-related issues. The results of this research as a whole, in relation to the outcomes obtained from the MSMI instrument, as well as from the personal interviews, differs somewhat from the philosophy of Masters sport, whereby it is assumed and promoted that older athletes primarily participate for fun, enjoyment and social opportunities. The results obtained in this research do not necessarily support this view. Many Australian Masters squash players play to win, and they give their all in an effort to achieve this goal and to reap the pleasure of recognition and rewards for doing so.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJohn Gross (Supervisor) & John Dodd (Supervisor)

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