The relationship between the decision of young athletes (N = 98) classified as starters, survivors, and dropouts to either maintain involvement with a competitive sport team or drop out and a number of motivational (personal) and situational factors was examined. The personal and situational factors employed fell into six categories: trait measures (competitive trait anxiety [A-trait], achievement motivation; intrinsic [self] motivation; self-esteem; and causal attributions), general attitudes toward competitive sport, sportsmanship and communication factors, socialization factors (parental and peer group involvement), coaching (leadership) considerations, and cohesion or group climate factors. Discriminant function analysis revealed that the continuum of actual participation which exists (starters-survivors-dropouts) is also directly related to systematic differences in personal factors within the groups as well as in their perception of specific situational factors. Variables discriminating among the groups included perception of group climate (sense of belonging, enjoyment, closeness), attitudes toward competition (perception of the importance of winning, role of physical activity in physical fitness development), socialization factors (encouragement received from fathers, encouragement received from teachers), attributions following athletic outcomes (attributions to ability following failure and effort following success), and leadership (perception of the coach as an autocrat).
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