The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between goal orientations, perceptions of athletic aggression, and sportspersonship among elite male youth ice hockey players (M age = 13.08 years). Athletes (N = 171) completed questionnaires to assess their goal orientations, attitudes toward directing aggressive behaviors during competition, and non-aggression-related sportspersonship. In accordance with Vallerand, Deshaies, Cuerrier, Brière, and Pelletier (1996), sportspersonship was conceptualized as a five-dimensional construct. Multiple regression analyses revealed that high ego-oriented athletes were more inclined to approve of aggressive behaviors than those with low ego orientation. Players with higher levels of task orientation (rather than low task orientation) had higher sportspersonship levels on three dimensions. An analysis of goal orientation patterns revealed that regardless of ego orientation, low (compared to high) task orientation was more motivationally detrimental to several sportspersonship dimensions. The practical implications of these results are discussed in the context of Nicholls’s (1989) achievement goal theory.
John G.H. Dunn and Janice Causgrove Dunn are with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, E-401 Van Vliet Centre, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6G 2H9.
This study was funded by the Sport, Recreation, and Lotteries Branch of Saskatchewan Municipal Government. The authors would like to recognize the contribution of Ross Lynd during the data collection phase of this study.