Aim and Research Questions
The study’s general aim is to identify the micro-determinants of elite athletes’ motivation to
be a role model. It is tried to find an answer on the following research questions: (a) Are
athletes personally motivated to be a role model? (b) What are the reasons athletes are or are
not motivated to be a role model?, and (c) What are the determinants of elite athletes’
motivation to be a role model?
Theoretical background and literature review
Increasingly, elite sport is seen as an asset to achieve a range of societal benefits. De Rycke
and De Bosscher (2019) found that elite sport might have an impact on society within ten
categories (e.g., social equality and inclusion, sport participation and health). For elite sport to
provide a positive impact within those categories, a valuable resource includes leveraging elite
athletes as role models (e.g., Grix & Carmichael, 2012). For example, it is believed that athlete
role models provide inspiration and motivation for (young) people to develop an active
lifestyle (De Rycke & De Bosscher, 2019). Moreover, Babiak and colleagues (2012)
highlighted that acting as a role model can also entail financial, social, and political benefits
for the athletes themselves. To illustrate, Torregrosa et al. (2015) indicate that athletes who do
not focus solely on their sport, but also commit to other purposes (e.g., taking up a role model
engagement) perform better and are equipped with more resources for life after sport.
Nevertheless, athletes are sometimes assigned the role model status without fully
understanding, appreciating, or willing to be a role model (Jonson et al., 2013). Despite the
recognition that athletes are sometimes involuntarily assigned the role model status, there is
little insight in the extent to which elite athletes across Europe are motivated to actively take
up their role as a role model.
Research design, methodology and data analysis
An online survey covering different topics in the context of athletes’ perceptions about the
societal value of elite sport (e.g., sociodemographic data, athletes as role models) was
developed based on (a) literature research and (b) input of the consortium members of the
‘Athletes 4 society project’ (co-funded by the Erasmus + Sport Programme of the European
Union). Participants completed the survey in English, providing sociodemographic
information (e.g., gender, diploma, type of sport), and indicating if and why they are motivated
to be a role model. In total, 153 European athletes who represented their country at national
senior competition (47,7%) or international level (52,3%) completed the survey (54,9%
female). Descriptive statistics provided an answer to the first two research questions. To
identify the determinants of elite athletes’ motivation to be a role model (i.e., RQ c), logistic
regression was used because the dependent variable (i.e., motivation; 0 = unmotivated, 1 =
motivated) was binary. Variables included in the logistic regression model were gender (0 =
female, 1 = male), type of sport (0 = individual, 1 = team), situation (0 = dual career, 1 = fulltime sporting career), performance level (0 = international, 1 = national), and diploma (0 =
secondary education, 1 = higher education). SPSS facilitated data analysis.
Results/Findings and Discussion
In total, 81,2% of participants indicated that they were motivated to be a role model. The top
three reasons for athletes to be a role model included ‘be a good role model is important to
me’, ‘learn new things’, and ‘enjoy inspiring people’. Reasons for participants who were
unmotivated to be a role model (18,8%) were ‘focus on the sporting career’, ‘role model
expectations are vague or unspecified’, ‘unnecessary to be a role model’, and ‘not willing to
share their lives with fans’. The logistic regression model was statistically significant (χ2 =
12.683; −2LL = 91.628; p = .027), with Nagelkerke’s R2 of 0.178. The Hosmer & Lemeshow
test indicated that the model was a good fit to the data (p = .149). Gender was found to be a
significant predictor of an athlete’s motivation to be a role model (p = .001). The probability
of being motivated to be a role model increased significantly among women. All other
predictors were insignificant at the 5% level. During the presentation research data will be
presented more detailed.
Conclusion, Contribution, and Implication
This research aimed at developing a broader understanding of athletes’ motivation to be a role
model. A better understanding of athletes’ motivation to be a role model might be of help for
nations and policy institutions to (a) consider whether or not athletes recognise their societal
role, and (b) become more strategic in leveraging athletes as role models. Building on this
research, we encourage future studies to provide a qualitative in-depth investigation of elite
athletes’ decision process to take up their role as a role model or conduct expanding
quantitative studies considering both micro- and macro-determinants.
Originele taal-2English
Subtitel31st European Association for Sport Management Conference
Aantal pagina's2
StatusPublished - 12 sep 2023
Evenement31st European Association for Sport Management Conference - Belfast, Belfast, Ireland
Duur: 12 sep 202315 sep 2023


Conference31st European Association for Sport Management Conference
Internet adres


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