Using a Fantasy Sports Scoring System in Physical Education

By Perlman, Dana; Lockwood, Park | Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, March-April 2010 | Go to article overview

Using a Fantasy Sports Scoring System in Physical Education


Perlman, Dana, Lockwood, Park, Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators


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Student motivation is a critical issue within all educational fields (Stipek, 2003), including physical education (Chen, 2001). In regard to physical education, the term motivation is commonly defined as the "ability to energize behavior" (Roberts, 2001). Energizing behavior is imperative as student participation and engagement is deemed a critical component to the overall learning and development of the physical education student (NASPE, 2004).

Understanding Motivation in Physical Education

Understanding student motivation requires a brief introduction to achievement goal theory (AGT). AGT hypothesizes that motivation is linked with a student's perception of competence or success (Ames, 1992). For example, a student will be motivated when he/she feels their potential for success is high. Furthermore, individual evaluation of success can be classified into two distinct categories termed performance or mastery (Dweck & Leggett, 1988). A student who evaluates his/her success through social norms or comparisons is classified as performance-involved, while a mastery-involved student will feel successful though a personal focus or growth. While both styles (mastery and performance) are quite different, the social context or educational environment plays a critical part in influencing each style of student motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Manipulation of the educational environment, commonly termed motivational climate, can be achieved by the teacher to meet the diverse motivational needs of all students (Epstein, 1989; Ames, 1992).

Motivational climates are designed to allow each student the opportunity to demonstrate his/her success within a given context. Moreover, each climate can be aligned with either a mastery or performance focus (Epstein, 1989; Ames, 1992). This is accomplished through aligning components of instruction and lesson design with what is known as the TARGET principle (Ames, 1992). TARGET is a framework for manipulating components of a lesson to focus on either motivational style and stands for Task, Authority, Recognition, Grouping, Evaluation and Time (Epstein, 1989), (See Table 1).

Similar to individual perceptions of success, a performance-involved student will feel motivated in a class that focuses on social goals, like winning and losing. Conversely, a mastery-involved student will be motivated in a climate that focuses on personal growth. In terms of physical education, motivational climates aligned with a mastery involvement are deemed most valuable. Research indicates that this combination results in positive student outcomes, such as a desire to learn new skills (Ames & Archer, 1988), student ability to handle challenges and failure (Dweck & Leggett, 1988), increased practice time (Solmon, 1996), student engagement (Parish & Treasure, 2003) and increased effort (Xiang, Bruene, & McBride, 2004). On the contrary, performance climates have no impact on intrinsic motivation (Papaioannou, 1994), increase negative feelings toward activity (Treasure, 1997) and develop students with avoidance attitudes towards challenge (Burhands & Dweck, 1995). A technique for assisting in the implementation of a mastery climate could be the utilization of a modified fantasy sports scoring system within a physical education class.

Fantasy Scoring, Motivation and Physical Education

The origin of fantasy sports is difficult to pinpoint, but the premise is focused on allowing an individual (i.e., manager) the opportunity to draft a variety of professional players, in order to create and manage a team. Once a team is developed, the manager joins a league of similarly created teams and competes against each other. The unique concept of fantasy sports is that individual statistics are used to score points. Unlike traditional sports which use goals or runs scored as a measure of success, fantasy sports use individual statistics like number of hits in baseball or number of yards gained in football as a component of the total team score. …

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