Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Expressed Motives for Informal and Club/Association-Based Sports Participation

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Expressed Motives for Informal and Club/Association-Based Sports Participation

Article excerpt

"She has taken to beseeching me to stop going over the falls. What harm does it do"? Says it makes her shudder. I wonder why. I have always done it-always liked the plunge, and the excitement, and the coolness." (Mark Twain, The Diaries of Adam and Eve)

Introduction and Literature Review

Sport has become a major attraction within leisure and tourism industries. Hence, studies of sports and leisure activity motivation, such as those on the motives for leisure travel (Crompton, 1979; Dann, 1981), are of increasing interest to both sports professionals and the tourist/leisure industries for sport and leisure planning, development and marketing.

Sporting Participation in France

France has approximately 36 million active sport participants, representing 83% of the total population aged 15 to 75 (Jeunesse et Sports, 2001). However the number of participants registered with their national governing bodies of sport has been stable for several years at 13.7 million. The difference between these figures reflects two facts. First, for the last 30 years, the number of members of traditional French sports clubs has gradually plateaued (from a steady climb). Second, a considerable number of these participants play sport in informal, self-organized, contexts (CREDOC-FIFAS, 1994). The cultural studies approach developed in the Birmingham School in the UK (Andrews & Loy 1993; Clarke & Catcher, 1985; Fiske, 1989; Hebdige, 1988) requires one to consider the activities of groups of participants and social practices in terms of the degree of opposition to, or marginalisation from, the social practices of dominant groups. Although subcultural analyses (Donnelly, 1985; Beal, 1995) have been employed in some French studies, such studies have tended to do so in an implicit rather than an explicit manner (Calogirou & Touche, 1995).

A significant proportion of those participating in sport do so in both informal and formal settings (L'Aoustet, Niel, & Griffet, 2003). However, the studies have tended to treat informal and formal participants as separate populations (Choquet, 1995). The present study on sports practice motivation aims to provide (a) a scale that is robust, reliable, and consistent to analyze the ethos of contemporary ways of sport practice; and (b) information useful to all areas of the tourist/sports industry concerning those factors which may attract and retain potential leisure/sports practitioners, whatever the setting of participation.


Many authors have explored the "why" and "how" of the investment of the individual in leisure/sporting activities (Crompton, 1979; Gitelson & Kerstetter, 1990; Hamilton-Smith, 1987; Loundsbury & Polik, 1992; Prentice, 1993). One of the most common methods of analysis of motivation in leisure activities is to concentrate on the states and goals that the practitioners look to achieve (Manfredo, Driver, & Tarrant, 1996). Usually, these states and goals emerge from the results of factor analyses. However, this method is not without its critics. In a study on the motivations of golfers, Petrick, Backman, Bixler, and Norman (2001) deplored the fact that "many researchers have conducted their own factor analyses on motivational inventories and have reported dimensions of motivations that are unique to their particular study" (p. 57).

It is now usually accepted that the motivation is an interaction of internal factors (unconscious and conscious psychological compulsions) and external factors (social and familial gratification and recognition), within which are combined a variety of drives (basic drives, self-image, experience). Motivations also evolve and changes with time. Yet, in spite of numerous books and methods designed to stimulate motivation, the concept of motivation itself is not always clearly defined. In the psychology literature, motivation is defined in many ways, mainly in behavioral terms (Gnoth, 1997). In the present study, we are more interested in the thought and emotional processes comprising motivation. …

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