Academic journal article Child Study Journal

The Effects of Athletic Identity and Motivation Goals on Global Competence Perceptions of Student-Athletes

Academic journal article Child Study Journal

The Effects of Athletic Identity and Motivation Goals on Global Competence Perceptions of Student-Athletes

Article excerpt

This study investigated the singular and collective impact of athletic identification and motivational goals on global self-perceptions among high school student-athletes (N = 258). Hierarchical regression analyses revealed several significant interaction effects, which confirmed the general prediction that athletic identity would influence levels of nonsport-related competence as a function of the motivational goal perspectives adopted within sport. In particular, positive relationships were demonstrated between various dimensions of athletic identity and scholastic, social, vocational, and behavioral competence among athletes adopting a high task-low ego goal perspective, whereas these relationships were either absent or negative among high ego-low task athletes. These results have important implications for school personnel attempting to facilitate student personal growth through participation in competitive high school sport. The present findings are discussed in relation to both sport motivation theory a nd intervention strategies.


School personnel have been widely interested in the determinants of children's self-perceptions as well as the degree to which such perceptions pervade various achievement domains. Particular attention has focused on the potential role competitive sport involvement plays in the formation of children's competence perceptions within alternate achievement settings such as school, vocations, and interpersonal relations. One viewpoint is that sport participation contributes to greater competence perceptions in these nonsport-related areas. While participating in sporting activities, children derive a sense of personal competence as a result of learning to access various sources of self-referent information within the sport setting. Children then apply this same process within nonsport-related achievement settings. An opposing view states that sport participation has little impact on the nonsport competence perceptions of children due to the fact that these information sources, and the perceived competence based up on them, tend to be context-specific.

Although some evidence suggests that participation in competitive sport is related to greater prosocial attitudes among young people (Armstrong, 1984; Cooper, 1982; Stevenson, 1985), studies attempting to link sport participation to educational aspirations, peer popularity, and academic self-concept have generally produced inconclusive findings (Chandler & Goldberg, 1990; Melnick, Sabo, & Vanfossen, 1992; Marsh, 1993; Spreitzer, 1994). Given the potential significant impact of sport involvement on the perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of student-athletes, surprisingly little empirical information exists regarding how the nature of the high school sport experience may impact global competence perceptions among its participants. Rather than simply comparing the levels of personal competence between athletes and nonathletes, proper inquiry into this relationship should include a description of the student-athlete's identification with sport (Griffin, 1998).

Athletic Identity

The degree to which an adolescent identifies with the athletic role may contribute to the development of competence perceptions in other achievement domains. The construct of self-identity has been generally defined as the compilation of self-referent cognitions, emotions, and attitudes expressed within various aspects of life (Carver, Reynolds, & Scheier, 1994; Showers, 1992). Due to its multidimensional nature, individuals tend to activate specific dimensions of their self-identity in order to facilitate the processing of self-referent information. That is, the development of self-perceptions is largely influenced by the particular dimension of self-identity, which is salient within a given situation (Markus & Nurius, 1987; Markus & Zajonc, 1985). …

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