Women and the personal meaning of competition: A qualitative investigation

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 Dept. of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences 5500 Campanile Dr. San Diego State University San Diego, CA 92182-7251
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Using a qualitative design, the purpose of this study was to investigate the personal meaning of competition to the female mountain bike racer. Interviews were conducted with nine female mountain bike racers of varying levels of experience, and were designed to elicit information relevant to the athlete’s understanding of her experience of competition, as well as, the personal meaning she attached to that experience. The codification of participant responses resulted in the identification of eight main themes including self-fulfillment, perceived competence, social support and camaraderie, health and fitness, joy of the experience, focus and self-control, external benefits derived from racing, and goal-direction. The findings of the study were, in general, supportive of the components of meaning posited by Personal Investment Theory (Maehr & Braskamp, 1986). Practical implications from this study include developing strategies for increasing the meaningfulness of the competitive experience for females in order to promote participation in physical activity.

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