This study examined the network of relationships among moral atmosphere, perceived performance motivational climate, and moral functioning of male youth football players. Participants were 325 footballers recruited from 24 teams of a youth football league. They responded to scenarios describing cheating and aggressive behaviors likely to occur during a football game by indicating their moral judgment, intention, and behavior, which represented moral functioning. The moral atmosphere of the team and participants’ perceptions of the team’s performance motivational climate were also measured. Structural equation modeling indicated that perceptions of an atmosphere condoning cheating and aggressive behaviors were associated with views that a performance motivational climate is salient in the team, while both moral atmosphere and perceived performance climate corresponded to low levels of moral functioning in football. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for eliminating unsportsmanlike conduct from sport.
Maria Kavussanu is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Birmingham, UK. E-mail: M.Kavussanu@bham.ac.uk. Christopher M. Spray is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, LE11 3TU, UK. E-mail: C.M. Spray@lboro.ac.uk.