Collegiate Sport Club Service Delivery: Moving Between Motivations and Constraints to Beneficial Outcomes




Sport clubs, sport services, motivation, constraints, recreational sport


Overwhelming evidence supports that collegiate recreation, as a sport service, achieves a variety of both university and individual benefits. However, the intricacies of how individuals take up a sporting activity to actualize individual and collective outcomes is unclear. The purpose of this project was to develop a holistic understanding of the sport participant experience from motivations to join, constraints faced and negotiated, and outcomes attained through American collegiate recreational sport clubs. Interviews were conducted with 20 sport club athletes using a semi-structured interview guide developed from previous work on sport participation, motivations, constraints, and related outcomes. Data were coded and analyzed using a constructivist grounded theory approach. The findings revealed participants were attracted to a club as they sought out specific benefits, but university and club policies, along with leadership turnover, created constraints to their participation. Constraints evolved from individual challenges (e.g., intimidation, time conflicts, communication, lack of knowledge) to challenges associated with the clubs (e.g., skill development, leadership turnover). Through successfully negotiating these constraints using both individual and club resources students then acquired sought after benefits (e.g., socialization, physical activity), as well as benefits realized through the experience (e.g., professional skills, student development). By understanding participant experiences, managers can better design programs to recruit and retain athletes. In particular, by identifying the needs and challenges faced by participants, organizers can create opportunities to meet those needs and overcome challenges, including by providing social events or mentorship programs. Additionally, the benefits realized by participants can be used by club officers and campus recreation managers to justify continued investment in sport clubs. Overall, the study provides a holistic understanding of how motivations and constraints interact and ultimately lead to beneficial outcomes.

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