Participation Motives of Special Olympics Athletes

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly

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Deborah R. ShapiroGeorgia State University

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This study examined sport participation motives of 147 Special Olympics athletes ages 21 to 70 years. Athletes completed a Sport Motivation Questionnaire (SMQ). No significant differences in participation motives were found for gender, age, race, or sport. Special Olympics athletes participate to win ribbons and medals, play with other people, get exercise, do something they’re good at, and have fun. Consistent with Nicholls’ achievement motivation theory, Special Olympics athletes participate primarily for task oriented and social integrative reasons rather than for ego oriented reasons. For Special Olympic athletes, optimal motivation results in a task oriented environment where coaches provide time for fun, facilitate opportunities for fitness, provide time to be with friends, and emphasize effort and improvement.

The author is with the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303. E-mail: dshapiro@gsu.edu.

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