Do people's goals for mass participation sporting events matter? A self-determination theory perspective

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Abstract

Background

Non-elite mass participation sports events (MPSEs) may hold potential as a physical activity promotion tool. Research into why people participate in these events and what goals they are pursuing is lacking. Grounded in self-determination theory, this study examined the associations between MPSE participants' goals, event experiences and physical activity.

Methods

A prospective cohort study was conducted; pre-event, participants reported their goals for the event. Four weeks post-event, participants reported their motivation for exercise, perceptions of their event achievement and moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA). Bivariate correlations and path analysis were performed on data from 114 adults.

Results

Intrinsic goals (e.g. health, skill and social affiliation) for the event were positively associated with perceptions of event achievement, whereas extrinsic goals (e.g. appearance or social recognition) were not. Event achievement was positively associated with post-event autonomous motivation, which in turn was positively associated with MVPA.

Conclusions

Pursuing intrinsic but not extrinsic goals for MPSEs is associated with greater perceptions of event achievement, which in turn is associated with post-event autonomous motivation and MVPA.

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