Competitive Orientations and Sport Motivation of Professional Women Football Players: An Internet Survey

By Beaudoin, Christina M. | Journal of Sport Behavior, September 2006 | Go to article overview

Competitive Orientations and Sport Motivation of Professional Women Football Players: An Internet Survey


Beaudoin, Christina M., Journal of Sport Behavior


According to Iso-Ahola (1999) motivation represents the forces that initiate, direct and sustain behavior. Because motivation influences persistence, learning, and performance (Duda, 1989; Martens & Webber, 2002; Vallerand, Deci, & Ryan, 1987); further understanding and examining motivation within sport is warranted. A theoretical approach that has greatly influenced the study of motivation is Deci and Ryan's (1985, 1991) self-determination and cognitive evaluation theory. Cognitive evaluation theory, a subtheory under self-determination theory, posits that behavior can be intrinsically motivated, extrinsically motivated or amotivated. Intrinsic motivation (IM) refers to engaging in activity for its own sake (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the activity and a person will perform the activity in the absence of material or external rewards or incentives. Conversely, extrinsic motivation (EM) refers to behaviors that are engaged in as a means to an end and not for their own sake (Deci, 1975). Lastly, amotivation, describes behaviors when there is a lack of motivation and the behavior is done for neither intrinsic nor extrinsic reasons (Deci & Ryan, 1985).

Closely associated with sport motivation is the area of achievement or competitive orientations. In general, research reveals two basic achievement or competitive orientations: a mastery or task-orientation and an outcome-orientation (Ames, 1992; Duda, 1989; Duda, Chi, Newton, Walling, & Catley, 1995). The mastery or task orientation is usually associated with intrinsic motivation and encourages participation and achievement (Gill, Williams, Dowd, Beaudoin, & Martin, 1996). Conversely, the outcome-orientation is usually associated with being extrinsically motivated; the focus is the end result of a competition.

Relative to sport motivation, sports participants predominantly seek to learn skills, be physically active, have fun and enjoy activity (Gill et al., 1996). These would be considered intrinsically-related motives. Extrinsically-related motives such as gaining rewards and recognition are cited less often (Gill et al., 1996). Sport-specific inventories exist for the measurement of competitive achievement orientation and motivation.

Despite considerable empirical work related to sport motivation and competitive orientations, research has been primarily limited to children and young adults (e.g., college athletes). Knowledge regarding competitive orientations and sport motivation among professional athletes is limited. To our knowledge, only one other study has examined competitive orientations of professional athletes (Wartenburg & McCutcheon, 1998). Wartenburg and McCutcheon (1998) found that male minor league hockey players were higher in competitiveness, win, and goal orientation compared to a cohort of fans. Furthermore, research with professional women's sports is limited.

A professional women's sport that has experienced resurgence is football. Women's football teams and a league (Women's Professional Football League) formally appeared in the 1960's and experienced limited success. In 1974, the National Women's Football League consisting of seven teams evolved. Through the 1970's the league experienced growth and expansion but ultimately folded in 1982 due to financial constraints associated with travel and operational costs. The regeneration of women's professional football began in 1999 with the Women's Professional Football League (WPFL). Currently there 16 teams in the WPFL, (7 southwest, 6 Atlantic coast, and 3 midwest teams). Two additional leagues, the Independent Women's Football League (IWFL) and National Women's Football Association (NWFA) commenced play in 2000. During the 2005 season, the IWFL competition consisted of 24 teams (10 Pacific coast, 3 midwest, 8 Atlantic coast, and 3 central southern teams) and the NWFA witnessed 35 teams competing during the 2005 season (20 Northern Division and 15 Southern Division teams).

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