The current study examined student athletes’ motives for viewing sports programs on television and their relationships with various viewing behaviors. Employing uses and gratifications theory and social differentiation theory, the study investigated whether student athletes’ motives for sports-program viewing would predict their preference of program selection and amount of viewing. An on-site survey of 225 Division I athletes from 3 Midwestern universities found that student athletes had entertainment, social-facilitation, and integration motives for sports-program viewing. Ritual use of sports programs (entertainment) was their primary motive, followed by instrumental use (social facilitation and integration). Results showed that student athletes’ main goal of watching sports programs on television was escape from their daily problems. Additional results showed that there was no gender difference in student athletes’ motives and sports-program preferences. Both male and female student athletes preferred male sports such as football and men’s college basketball.
Keywords: motivational use of television, television viewing