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The Association of Constraints, Negotiation, and Social Influences with Recreation Specialization among Recreational Baseball Participants

Jaehyun Kim, Michael Ferguson, Benjamin Hickerson, Andrew Mowen


Recreation specialization is a progressive process that describes how recreationists engage in and view an activity over time (Scott & Shafer, 2001). This progression may be influenced by a variety of psychosocial factors behind an individual’s choice to engage in an activity. There have been calls for further studies that identify the antecedents which predict the specialization process (Scott & Shafer, 2001). To date, constraints, negotiation efforts and social influences have been examined separately across a variety of leisure and recreation contexts. However, less is known about the collective contribution of these factors in relation to recreation specialization, particularly with regard to social influences. The social relationships that recreationists build during their recreation careers may be an important predictor of recreation specialization. This study addresses this issue and examines the relationship between constraints, negotiation efforts, positive and negative social influences, and recreation specialization among a sample of recreational baseball participants. 

The sample consisted of 299 adult recreational baseball players in three cities across Korea. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was conducted using AMOS 22.0, and analysis indicated that negotiation efforts were the strongest predictor of recreation specialization. The more baseball players identified strategies to overcome constraints, the more specialized they were in their activity. We also revealed that negative social influences had direct negative effects on recreation specialization, whereas positive social influences were indirectly associated with recreation specialization through constraints and/or negotiation efforts. Both positive and negative social influences directly triggered baseball participants’ negotiation efforts. That is, increases in positive and negative social influences encouraged participants to use strategies to negotiate the constraints they encountered. Constraints had a negative effect on negotiation efforts, suggesting that perceptions of constraints inhibited people from engaging in efforts to negotiate constraints. On a practical level, results suggest that baseball clubs and program organizers who wish to promote increase specialization could provide club members with a variety of opportunities for minimizing negative social influences. Within each baseball team, role allocation among team members and regular team gatherings may help enhance group bonding and team cohesion and avoid conflicts between team members. Additionally, recreational baseball organizations should consider strategies to reduce the cost of equipment and clothing associated with the sport. To increase sport facility and field availability, we suggested allowing local recreational baseball clubs to use school grounds during non-school hours. Finally, local parks, recreation agencies, and participants should work together for more effective facility scheduling. 

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Constraints; negotiation; outdoor recreation; recreational baseball; social influences; specialization

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