This study examines the effects of winning a college letter on the sport identity of athletes participating at different levels of competition. The sample consisted of 276 male and 229 female athletes drawn from similar teams from three colleges in Ohio. The colleges were affiliated with the NCAA Divisions I and III and the NAIA. It was hypothesized that winning a letter would strengthen the sport identity, and that athletes participating at the higher level of competition would have the greater sport identity. Results confirmed both hypotheses. In addition, the sport identities of male and female athletes were compared. Importantly, no significant gender differences were found in the rating of sport importance, hours spent in sport, and the social relations obtained through sport. Men, however, showed greater competitive motivation and women greater identification with the role of athlete.
Timothy Jon Curry is with the Department of Sociology, Ohio State University, 300 Bricker Hall, 190 N. Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210-1353.