Investigation of the Psychological Motivating Factors Behind Competition (Masters Sport) in the Context of Body Mass Index

Joseph Walsh, Tim Heazlewood, Mark DeBeliso, Climstein Mike

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The World Masters Games (WMG) is recognised by the International Olympic Committee and is the largest international sporting competition in terms of participant numbers. The aim of this study was to investigate body mass index (BMI) in the context of the psychological motivations for competition; potentially, this could assist with promotion strategies for masters sport. In context of the global obesity epidemic, investigating this under-investigated population might further the understanding of the nexus between aging, physical activity and obesity. An online survey investigated Sydney WMG participants. In total 4963 masters athletes (51.4% male) aged 25 to 91 years (mean=51.1, SD±9.6) were analysed. Psychological questions focused on factors thought to promote participation. Bootstrapping provided robust estimates of standard errors and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of mean values. The main motivating factors for obese individuals were “to socialise with other participants” (mean score 5.92/7), “to compete with others” (mean score 5.34/7) and “to improve health” (meanscore 5.20/7). Bootstrapping indicated factors differed across BMI classes. The factor “to socialise with other participants” for obese WMG athletes (CI 5.82-6.05), was higher than for overweight (CI 5.67-5.80) or normal (CI 5.57-5.70) classification masters athletes. The variable “to improve my health” also differed across BMI, being lower for obese (CI 5.07-5.35), than overweight (CI 5.49-5.64) or normal (CI 5.57-5.71). Obese athletes were more likely to be motivated to compete to socialise and less by competition than other athletes. The factor“to reduce my weight” correlated (p=0.27, p<0.001) with BMI, re-iterated by CI ranges for obese (3.46-3.77), overweight (3.37-3.55) and normal (2.51-2.65), demonstrating a decreased focus on this factor for those with normal BMI. Despite the correlation between BMI and the factor “to reduce my weight”, for obese individuals “to socialise with other participants” was the highest ranked factor. Strategies to increase masters sport participation for obese individuals should focus on socialisation with other participants. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-13
Number of pages5
JournalSport Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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