Why do people participate in the World Masters Games?

Kent Adams, Mark de Beliso, Joe Walsh, Stephen Burke, Ian Heazlewood, Jyrki Kettunen, Mike Climstein

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


    Introduction: The World Masters Games are based on a philosophy that promotes and encourages mature athletes to compete in sport throughout life and thereby improve fitness, socialize, improve friendship and understanding across cultures, and set an example for all related to successful aging. World Masters Games athletes have either pursued a sport for an extended period of time or have initiated a sport in later life. It is important to understand why this unique cohort of masters athletes participates in sport. The purpose of this study was to investigate competitor's motivations for participation in their sport at the World Masters Games.

    Methodology: Data was collected at the Sydney 2009 World Masters Games using an online survey. Participants were asked to rate on a scale of 1–7 the importance of three reasons to participate in their sport (1 = item is not a reason, 7 = item is a very important reason). The reasons were: (1) to compete with others, (2) to socialize with other participants, and (3) to improve my health.

    Results: A total of 8070 participants responded (response rate = 29%) with a mean age of 52 yrs (range 25–91 yrs). Competitors from 83 countries completed the survey, with 25% reported having previously competed in the World Masters Games. On a scale of 1–7 results for reasons to participate were (mean (SD)): to compete with others = 5.2 (1.7); to socialize with other participants = 5.7 (1.5); and to improve my health = 5.6 (1.7). ANOVA revealed a significant difference (p = 0.000) in reasons to participate. Post hoc analysis showed significant differences between all three reasons (p = 0.000), with socializing with other participants being the strongest reason, followed by to improve my health. Competition with others was the weakest reason for participation.

    Conclusions: Results show that socialization was the most important personal motivation for sport participation in the 2009 Sydney World Masters games. And, that competition is a less important motivator to masters level participants than either health or socialization. Based on these findings, those promoting sport participation in older adults may benefit by highlighting the social aspects of involvement.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number166
    Pages (from-to)e82-e82
    Number of pages1
    JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
    Issue numberSupplement 1
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
    Event2011 Australian Conference of Science and Medicine in Sport: Optimising health and fitness–Participation, prevention and performance -
    Duration: 19 Oct 201122 Oct 2011


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