Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation of Small College Sports Officials

By Symonds, Matthew L.; Russell, William | Journal of Sport Behavior, June 2018 | Go to article overview

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation of Small College Sports Officials


Symonds, Matthew L., Russell, William, Journal of Sport Behavior


Sports at all levels remain immensely popular in American society, and qualified sports officials are a key component of the successful administration of these organized sports. Yet, sports officials remain in short supply (Associated Press, 2015) and attrition among sports officials is a concern (Hancock, Dawson, & Auger, 2015; VanYpren, 1998). For example, attrition rates as high as one-third of officials leaving the avocation after their first year have been reported (Titlebaum, Haberlin, & Titlebaum, 2009). Furthermore, research on stress and burnout in sports officials has identified the need to learn more about psychological and social factors influencing officials' intention to continue (Bernal, Nix, & Boatwright, 2012; Hancock et ah, 2015; Livingston & Forbes, 2016; Rainey & Hardy, 1999; Taylor, Daniel, Leith, & Burke, 1990; VanYpren, 1998). For example, when sports officials' stress and burnout is elevated, intentions to quit officiating are increased (Rainey & Hardy, 1999) while intrinsic motivation of officiating has been linked to officials' current and anticipated future involvement (Gray & Wilson, 2013).

There is limited research on sports officials, and existing research has primarily examined psycho-social aspects of officiating, including sport-role socialization (Furst, 1989), stress and burnout (Rainey, 1999; Rainey & Hardy, 1999; Taylor et ah, 1990), and passion and motivation (Bernal et al.,, 2012; Gray & Wilson, 2013, Hancock et ah, 2015; Livingston & Forbes, 2016; Phillippe, Vallerand, Andrianarisoa, & Brunei, 2009). Research has also called for examination of gender differences (Livingston & Forbes, 2016) and motivation characteristics (Bernal et ah, 2012) among sports officials. Prior research indicates that officials are highly motivated toward their work (Folkesson, Nyberg, Archer, & Norlander, 2002; Wolfson & Neave, 2007), yet problematic issues such as stress (Forbes & Livingston, 2013; Rainey & Hardy, 1999; Taylor et ah, 1990) and dropout (Hancock et ah, 2015; Rainey, 1999; VanYpren, 1998) are persistent concerns within the sports officiating avocation.

For example, Livingston and Forbes (2016) recently examined the motivations, perceived organizational support, and resilience of Canadian amateur sports officials and found that males had higher intrinsic motivation (Sport Motivation Scale) than females, and younger officials were more extrinsically motivated than older ones. Bernal et ah (2012) examined sports officials' longevity and noted that officials became involved for intrinsic reasons and continued because of their sport commitment and perceived relatedness with other officials. Previous studies have not explicitly examined recruiting and mentoring of small college sports officials, but suggestions addressing issues that impact recruitment and retention have been provided (Titlebaum et ah, 2009). Common reasons cited for leaving officiating include: career and family obligations, low game fees, poor sportsmanship, and advancement difficulties (Titlebaum, et ah, 2009). However, examining the motivations of sports officials may offer additional, yet unidentified, insights that can be considered by practitioners. Specifically, it has been posited by previous research (e.g., Gray & Wilson, 2013) that the use of the Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985; 2002) framework may assist with better understanding sports officials' motivations. Utilizing an SDT approach may lead to the development of practical strategies for intervention. Moreover, investigation through the SDT lens is needed to examine motivations of sport officials working at small college and universities, which represents a large but currently unstudied officiating population.

Self-Determination Theory

Previous research examining sports officials' motivations has successfully used Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000) as a framework to understand motivations of sports officials and to offer practical strategies for recruitment and retention (Gray & Wilson, 2008, 2013; Livingston & Forbes, 2016). …

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