Daniel J. Elkins
School of Kinesiology
McCormick Hall 100A - Campus Box
Phone: (309) 438-5383
Brent A. Beggs
School of Kinesiology
McCormick Hall 211 - Campus
Phone: (309) 438-5753
constraints, defined as factors that may negatively affect
in recreational activities, have been extensively investigated over the
last 20 years.There is evidence to support the
that despite the presence of constraints, individuals still participate
in recreational activities.A limited amount of
has examined how individuals overcome or “negotiate” constraints,
them to engage in leisure activities.The purpose
of this study was to determine if differences existed in the use of
based on the degree of constraint perceived and the level of
in sports activities.The sample of this study
of college students at two Midwestern universities (N=911).
strategies were compared based on level of participation and perceived
level of constraint using 2 X 2 Analysis of Variance (ANOVA).Results
indicated significant differences in negotiation between regular
in campus recreational sports and those who did not participate
in the use of time management, physical fitness, interpersonal
and improving finances strategies.Significant
in negotiation were also found among students with differing levels of
perceived constraint in utilization of negotiation strategies.The
higher the perception of structural constraints, the more likely an
was to make attempts to modify their schedule and make financial
in order to make time to participate.Additionally,
individuals moderately constrained were significantly more likely to
change their leisure aspirations than those who perceived a low level
results of this study indicate that an individual’s willingness to
leisure constraints plays an important role in participation in campus
recreational sports.By addressing different
and negotiation strategies, campus recreational sports providers may be
able to meet the needs of more students and increase levels of
constraints, negotiation strategies, campus recreation, college
A growing body of leisure constraints research has been developed and
upon over the last 20 years (Samdahl & Jekubovich, 1997).
to Buchanan and Allen (1985), leisure constraints were originally
as a mechanism to better understand barriers to participation.
now generally accepts the notion that participating in leisure
does not necessarily discount the possibility of the existence of
in leisure behavior (Jackson
<>Crawford and Godbey (1987)
categorized three types of constraints in defining the fundamental
in constraining factors.
such factors as the lack of opportunities or the cost of activities
result from the external conditions in the environment (Mannell &
1997), such as a lack of time or a lack of money to participate.
constraints arise from the interactions with other people, or the
of interpersonal relations in general.
constraints may be experienced if an individual is unable to locate a
with whom to participate in a specific leisure activity.
intrapersonal constraints refer to psychological conditions that arise
internal to the individual such as personality factors, attitudes, or
temporary psychological states such as moods.
a great deal of research has examined constraints to participation in
activities, very little research has contributed to a universal
of how constraints affect those that overcome constraints and enable
to engage in leisure.
The concept of constraints
as “negotiable” emerged in the early 1990s, extending the discussion of
constraints and how they limit participation and also how leisure is
into everyday lives (Henderson & Bialeschki, 1993; Little, 2000;
& Jekubovich, 1997).
According to Crawford,
and Godbey (1991), leisure participation is heavily dependent on
through an alignment of multiple factors, arranged sequentially, that
be overcome to maintain an individual’s impetus through these
Essentially, one must negotiate
in order to increase the likelihood of meaningful participation and
the opportunity for a leisure experience.>
and Rucks (1995) conducted a study of junior-high and high school
in which students were asked if they participated despite encountering
difficulty in doing so.
Many students cited
employed to negotiate the constraints, including time management and
acquisition of skills needed, but the strategies used varied by type of
The product of this qualitative research
was the establishment of general categories of negotiation that
the concept of negotiating constraints, including modification of time,
acquiring of skills needed for an activity, changing interpersonal
improving financial situation, use of physical therapy, and changing
In a study conducted in
a corporate recreation setting, Hubbard and Mannell (2001) used the
and Rucks to further understand the concept of negotiation.
study suggested that while constraints decreased the level of
in a corporate recreation setting, they also triggered greater use of
Results of this study supported several
of the constraint negotiation propositions developed by Jackson,
and Godbey (1993) and the role motivation plays in one’s willingness to
Several studies have examined
perceived constraints of participants engaging in sport-related
including Young, Ross, and Barcelona
(2003), Alexandris and Carroll (1997), and Alfadhil (1996).
these studies have been successful in identifying leisure constraints
the population under investigation, much more research needs to be done
to understand constraints of those that do not participate in
sports programs and how that may be related to one’s choice to
or not negotiate these constraints.
to exploring constraints and negotiation strategies, this study
differences between the perceived levels of constraint experienced in
attempt to determine if the amount of perceived constraint affected the
willingness to negotiate.
were made among those who were regular participants and those who did
regularly participate in campus recreational sports for the purpose of
understanding if a lack of regular participation was due to the failure
This study also compared
and non-participants in terms of the degree to which they negotiated
of the research involving constraints has focused on regular
and has failed to examine factors that may contribute to a lack of
participation in recreational sports activities.
comparisons of this study were a preliminary step towards a more
understanding of how perceived constraints affect participation and
factors that may be contributing to levels of participation.
<>The administration of
surveys was conducted using a modified version of the Dillman (2000)
A total of 2,568 students
and graduate) enrolled at two institutions located in the Midwest
comprised the sample.
At one institution, a simple
random sample was used to collect data using a web-based survey (N=321).
the second institution, due to limitations in technology, a purposeful
sampling procedure was utilized and a traditional paper survey was
in courses across the university with student profiles representative
the university population (N=590).
Sections A and B of the
instrument were comprised of demographic information, participation
and participation preferences relative to recreational sports programs.
C included 25 items used to measure perceived constraints.
items are based on an instrument used in a study by Young, Ross,
(2003) which identified perceived constraints in recreational sports.
constraint items were used in this study to categorize perceived level
of constraint for each category of constraint (structural,
and interpersonal) based on responses on a 5-point Likert scale
disagree, 5=strongly agree).
analysis resulted in an overall coefficient of .89 for the perceived
mean responses to structural, intrapersonal, and interpersonal items
used to establish the level of perceived constraint for the purpose of
determining if significant differences existed among these levels in
of the negotiation of constraints.
of each type of constraint on two levels (low and moderate) enabled
score comparisons of negotiation strategies at each level of
intrapersonal, and interpersonal constraint.
level of constraint used to make these comparisons was dependent upon
nature of the negotiation strategy.
The use of a
management strategy, for example, implies the need to modify one’s
in order to make time to participate.
The use of a
time management strategy may logically follow the perception of a
constraint, such as a lack of time.
Section D of the instrument
included 30 negotiation strategies developed by Jackson
and Rucks (1995) and later used by Hubbard and Mannell (2001).
responses to items related to time management, improving finances,
acquisition, interpersonal coordination, changing leisure aspirations,
and physical fitness strategies were computed using a 5-point Likert
alpha reliability analysis resulted in an overall coefficient of .88
the negotiation items (Section D).
Differences in negotiation
based on these responses were examined based on level of participation
and perceived level of constraint.
of those that participated in campus recreational sports were conducted
with those that were not regular participants for each of the
strategy categories, as well as the levels of perceived constraint
based on responses to Section C of the instrument.
X 2 Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was conducted for each negotiation
A Bonferroni adjustment was utilized to
correct for multiple comparisons (p?0.0016).
a comparison of responses between the two universities was indicated no
significant differences in any of the items.
The total number of
in the study was 955.Listwise deletion of 44
who failed to properly complete the questionnaire was implemented
the response rate to 35.48% (N=911).Of the 911
only 36.21% considered themselves to be regular participants in campus
recreational sports programs. Regular participation was defined as
at least once per week.An assessment of the
to which the sample perceived constraints shows that, overall, students
who participated in this study were minimally constrained with regards
to participation in campus recreational sports (M=2.28).Responses
indicated that the most constraining factors were “lack of time because
of work, school, or family” (M=3.93), “facilities are too crowded”
and “lack of time because of other leisure activities” (M=2.87), all of
which were structural in nature.Students
mostly structural constraints (M=2.65), followed by interpersonal
and were least affected by intrapersonal constraints (M=1.83).In
addition, both participants and non-participants in campus recreational
sports perceived mostly structural constraints, followed by
and intrapersonal (Table 1).
Two categories of perceived
constraint were utilized in comparing negotiation strategies.A
low level of perceived constraint (mean score of 3 or less) and a
level of perceived constraint (mean greater than 3) were established to
define the degree to which an individual perceived structural,
and intrapersonal constraints.As a result of this
grouping strategy, a total of 647 students perceived a low level of
constraint, while 264 perceived a moderate level. Interpersonally,
764 students perceived a low level of constraint while only 147
a moderate level.Students considered themselves
to be least affected by intrapersonal constraints, as only 54 students
were categorized as moderately constrained.
The specific negotiation
most utilized by students were “I try to get better organized,”
“I encourage friends to participate with me” (M=3.45), and “I am
to participate with people I don’t know” (M=3.39).Students
most utilized interpersonal coordination strategies (M=3.08) followed
skill acquisition (M=2.99), physical fitness (M=2.99), time management
(M=2.82), and changing leisure aspirations (M=2.68).Students
who participated in this study least utilized improving finances
Negotiation and level of
There were slight differences
in the types of negotiation strategies employed based on level of
in campus recreational sports.
recreational sports programs most often utilized interpersonal
strategies (M=3.28), followed by physical fitness (M=3.24), skill
(M=3.16), time management (M=3.08), changing leisure aspirations
and least utilized improving finances (M=2.62).
who did not participate on a regular basis had lower negotiation
and had similar priority in their use of negotiation strategies (Table
Results indicated significant
differences in four of the six negotiation categories between regular
in campus recreational sports and those who did not participate
Regular participants were significantly
more likely to use time management negotiation strategies (p?0.001)
as shortening an activity session, physical fitness strategies
such as getting more sleep, interpersonal coordination strategies
such as attempting to find someone with whom to participate, and
finances strategies (p?0.001), such as budgeting money in order to
participation, or improvising activity choices.
were no significant differences in the use of skill acquisition or
leisure aspiration strategies among regular participants and those that
did not participate on a regular basis.
in the use of specific negotiation strategies are summarized in Table
Negotiation and perceived level of constraint
Those categorized as moderately
constrained most often reported the use of changing leisure aspirations
strategies (M=3.26), followed by interpersonal coordination (M=3.05),
fitness (M=3.01), time management (M=2.90), skill acquisition (M=2.86),
and least utilized improving finances strategies (M=2.64).
for those who perceived a lower level of constraint indicated less use
of time management, physical fitness, improving finances, and changing
leisure aspirations, and greater use of interpersonal coordination and
skill acquisition negotiation strategies (Table 4).
Further analyses were conducted to determine if there was a
statistical difference in negotiation among low and moderately
college students were significantly more likely to utilize negotiation
strategies in three of the six negotiation categories (Table 5).
who perceived a moderate level of structural constraint were
more likely to utilize time management (p?0.001) and improving finances
strategies (p?0.001), while those who perceived a moderate level of
constraint were significantly more likely to utilize changing leisure
negotiation strategies (p?0.001).
There was not a
significant difference in means between students in the two categories
in terms of their use of physical fitness, skill acquisition, and
Differences in the use
of specific negotiation strategies are summarized in Table 5.
With regards to time management
negotiation, a significant interaction effect resulted between the
level of constraint and level of participation (p=.024).
a result, additional analyses were conducted to further understand the
differences among the two independent variables.
from this analysis indicated that participants at the low level of
constraint (M=3.01) differed significantly from non-participants at the
low level of structural constraint (M=2.65) in terms of time management
differences were also discovered among the participants moderately
(M=3.29) and non-participants moderately constrained (M=2.71).
Though not the primary focus
of this study, leisure constraints were nonetheless an important aspect.College
students who participated in the study indicated that the lack of time
because of work, school, or family was the most constraining factor
supports research findings by Young, Ross, and Barcelona
(2003) and Jackson
and Rucks (1995).
Negotiation strategies utilized
by students were the main focus of this study.
were examined in conjunction with the type and level of perceived
Overall, respondents indicated the
commonly used negotiation strategies were “I try to get better
(M=3.48), “I encourage friends to participate with me” (M=3.45), and “I
am willing to participate with people I don’t know” (M=3.39).
participants and non-participants most often utilized interpersonal
Few studies that have
examined leisure constraints or negotiation strategies have collected
It was important for this
to determine constraining factors to the non-participants as well as
difference in negotiation as it related to individual participation in
campus recreational sports programs.
significant differences in negotiation between those who participated
and those who did not in how they used time management, physical
interpersonal coordination, and improving finances strategies.
Time management comparisons
indicated that participants were significantly more likely to use time
management strategies than non-participants.
finding suggests that negotiation had a significant and positive impact
on the frequency of participation in campus recreational sports.
same can be stated for strategies of interpersonal coordination,
fitness, and improving finances.
In a separate
participants were significantly more likely to negotiate constraints
Those who participated in campus
recreational sports once per week were more willing to find a way to
than those who did not.
This may indicate a
to participating in campus recreational sports programs.
level of commitment may be linked to an individual’s level of
to participate as suggested by Jackson, Crawford, and Godbey (1993) and
Alexandris, Tsorbatzoudis, and Grouios (2002).
in negotiation were found among students with a low perceived level of
constraint and those moderately constrained in how they used
The higher the perception of
constraints, the more likely an individual was to make attempts to
his/her schedule and make financial adjustments in order to make time
Additionally, individuals moderately
constrained were significantly more likely to change leisure
such as the avoidance of overly competitive activities, than those who
perceived a low level of intrapersonal constraint.
results support research findings by Hubbard and Mannell (2001), who
that when an individual perceived an increase in constraint, they were
more likely to attempt to overcome the constraint using negotiation.
A significant interaction
among level of participation and level of perceived structural
suggests that participants moderately constrained were significantly
likely to use time management negotiation strategies than participants
with lower levels of structural constraints.
difference in negotiation among participants with low and moderate
of constraint was expected as participants who encounter a high level
constraint would need to negotiate more to maintain regular
in campus recreational sports.
Crawford, and Godbey (1993), an individual’s level of motivation is
related with his/her willingness to negotiate constraints.In
this study, one’s level of motivation to participate in campus
sports programs, or their willingness to negotiate structural
had a significant impact on their participation in campus recreational
sports.The more the campus recreational sports participant
is willing to negotiate constraints, the more likely he/she is to
an individual who is not a participant in campus recreational sports
not participate due to a lack of motivation or a lack of interest.If
there is a lack of interest of the activities offered within the campus
recreational sport program area, any degree of constraint, or perhaps a
complete lack of constraint could result in an individual not
a lack of awareness could contribute to non-participation.>
It could also be concluded
that those who perceived a low level of constraint utilized fewer
resources simply because they did not perceive constraining
who had an increased perception of the constraint would naturally have
to negotiate more frequently in order to participate.Alternatively,
a moderately constrained campus recreational sports participant could
more motivated to participate, resulting in an increased likelihood of
negotiating the constraint.Additional research is
needed in this area in order to determine if there is a level of
that significantly reduces the likelihood of campus recreational sports
participation.Furthermore, research examining the
role that motivation plays in the negotiation process could assist in
the difference between the failure to negotiate and the lack of
or awareness of the programs.
College students perceive
constraints on multiple levels when considering participation in campus
recreational sports and leisure activities in general.However,
findings from this study suggest that if a student is able to overcome
or negotiate those constraints, then they are more likely to
in recreational activities.It is the responsibility
of campus recreational sports providers to consider constraint and
issues in planning recreational activities.Traditionally,
campus recreational sports providers have been successful in scheduling
activities at appropriate times and keeping fees to a minimum.Future
activity planning should also consider providing social experiences and
skill development in campus recreational sports programming.By
addressing these needs, college students may be more likely to
in campus recreational sports.
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