Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Dr. Becca Jordre

Second Advisor

Dr. William Schweinle

Third Advisor

Dr. Robin Ammon


Senior Athletes, Motivation, Sport Motivation Scale II


The population of older adults is rapidly growing in the United States, though many of these individuals do not meet the Center for Disease Control recommended activity and exercise recommendations. A select group however, senior athletes, appear to be to active and, in fact, surpass these recommendations with their activity level. The motivation of this unique population of actively aging adults has not been carefully studied. The purpose of this study was to better understand the motivating factors of older adults who participate in competitive sports and to further investigate how motivation may be impacted by age, gender, marital status, race, education status, and employment status. Methods: A total of 643 registered athletes at the 2017 National Senior Games provided basic demographic data and took the Sport Motivation Scale-II (SMS-II). The survey allowed subscale scores for: intrinsic, integrated, identified, interjected, external, or amotivation as well as a composite relative autonomy index (RAI) with weighting of each subscore. Data Analysis: Descriptive statics were applied to demographic data and mean scores for each of the motivational categories were determined from athlete results. A one-way ANOVA and post hoc (Ryan-Einot-Gabriel-Welsh F) REGWF was used to examine the relationship between the RAI and each demographic category. Results: Results of SMS II subscale questions demonstrate higher scores on the intrinsic questions with a mean score of 5.34 and lower scores on amotivation questions with a mean score of 1.72. The RAI of all participants was 54.449 (SD = 23.495). A one-way ANOVA and post hoc provided significant differences in RAI by age ( p < .0001) with 50-79 year olds having a higher RAI than 80 and older athletes. A significant difference (p < .0001) was found by gender with men having a lower RAI then women. It was found that widowed athletes have a significantly lower RAI (p = .006) than all other categories. There were no significant differences by education level or race. It was found that homemakers have a significantly lower RAI (p = .003) than those who identified as retired, employed for wages, or unable to work. Conclusion: Senior athletes appear to be primarily selfdetermined and find enjoyment out of competition. As they age, athletes lose motivation to play without an external reward. It is also found that men and widowed athletes seek an external motivation.



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