A Comparison of Participation Incentives between Adult and Youth Wheelchair Basketball Players

By Brasile, Frank M.; Hedrick, Bradley N. | Palaestra, Summer 1991 | Go to article overview

A Comparison of Participation Incentives between Adult and Youth Wheelchair Basketball Players


Brasile, Frank M., Hedrick, Bradley N., Palaestra


Among those who regularly participate in competitive sport, individuals who have permanent physical disabilities may benefit in special ways. Timothy J. Nugent, retired director and founder of the University of Illinois Rehabilitation-Education Center, believed that recreation was much more than a means by which an individual could fill leisure time:

It can be the means of fulfilling or resolving the basic socio-psychological, and often times physical, needs of individuals through normal and acceptable self-enterprise. . .it should afford the individual the means of genuine satisfaction, self-expression and the motivation to seek new and different recreational experiences as the individual grows or experiences changes in his or her life. (Nugent, 1964, p. 34).

But such possibilities have not been established as salient to participants themselves. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate reasons for competitive sport participation of individuals with physical disabilities and motivational differences between adult and youth participants.

Enthusiasm with which individuals who have disabilities take to sport is evidenced by steady growth of organizations which promote sport participation. Representatives of such organizations are the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), United States Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association (USCPAA), United States Association for Blind Athletes (USABA), National Wheelchair Athletic Association (NWAA), National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis (NFWT), National Handicapped Sports (NHS), National Wheelchair Softball Association (NWSA), American Wheelchair Bowling Association (AWBA), and American Athletic Association of the Deaf (AAAD). Also, over the past five years the literature has begun to manifest a growing interest in the appeal of wheelchair sport participation. This can be witnessed by development of three specific periodicals--Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, Palaestra, and Sports 'N Spokes--with primary focus on participation in physical activity by persons with disabilities. Articles in these journals generally emphasize recreational, physiological, and psycho-social aspects of participation. To date, reports of specific motivational aspects of participation in wheelchair sports have been scarce. Even more scarce are investigations of similarities and differences between adult and youth wheelchair sport activities.

Understanding sport participation motives of participants is important to coaches, recreation professionals, adapted physical educators, sport psychologists, as well as athletes, if satisfaction is to be maximized and participatory burn-out minimized. Reasons why physically disabled persons participate in sport activities are likely to be quite complex, going beyond simply considering activity appropriateness or interest in components of a specific activity. This diverse discipline (sport for the disabled) has begun to make its impact upon society. Competitive sport programs for men, women, and children with disabilities have been flourishing. Yet, in what ways do incentives differ for adult and youth participants?

Sports Participation

Motivation

In an early text on sport psychology, Cratty (1968) noted that motives assist in determining the intensity and effort put into a selected activity, but that these motives may vary from individual to individual and are dependent upon the chosen activity. Among motivation orientations related to sport involvement have been compensation, cooperation and group cohesiveness, competition, being a champion, possession of victory, seeking risk and challenge, aggression, and escape. Ogilvie and Tutko (1963), discussing what they considered to be a complex motive situation toward sport participation, reported needs for love, social approval, status, security, and achievement as basic incentives for involvement. Most participation motivation for involvement in sport activities, however, can be grouped into three major categories -- task, ego, and social incentives.

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