It is not yet clear how the enjoyment of playing a sport is related to the degree of involvement an athlete feels in a game. This issue was examined in two field studies and one laboratory experiment focusing on how men and women experience competition on mixed-sex and single-sex sports teams, with a greater emphasis on the experience of women in these situations. The results showed that while the mean enjoyment levels for women in mixed-sex and single-sex games were not different, individual women usually display a preference for either mixed-sex or single-sex teams. The results also revealed that women felt more involved on single-sex teams and that both men and women passed to men more often in mixed-sex games. Future studies should look at possible differences between men and women in the sources of the rewards derived from competition.
The authors are with the Psychology Dept., Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois.