Influence of competition level and sport type on quality experiences of athletes with a physical disability


The Quality Parasport Participation Framework suggests that conditions within the sport context influence the subjective experiences Para athletes derive from sport and their overall well-being. However, there is a paucity of research exploring the relationship between sport characteristics and Para athletes' experience. In this study, we examined the influence of competition level and sport type on the six building blocks of quality participation (QP): autonomy, belongingness, challenge, engagement, mastery and meaning. National, cross-sectional data from a study of N=274 adults (Mage=44.09±14.17; 62.0% men) who participate in sport and identify as living with a physical disability were analyzed. Participants' sport involvement was characterized according to sport type (individual; team) and competition level (recreational; competitive; elite). The six aspects of QP were assessed using the Measure of Experiential Aspects of Participation (MeEAP). A one-way MANOVA exploring group differences in the building blocks by competition level was statistically significant (F12,534=2.21, V=0.094, p=0.01, ?p2=0.47). Post-hoc tests revealed significant differences between competition groups solely in the aspect of autonomy (F2,271=7.74, p=0.001, ?p2=0.054). Participants in the competitive (M=4.76±1.61; p<0.05) and elite (M=4.29±1.98; p<0.05) groups experienced lower levels of autonomy in comparison to the recreational group (M=5.35±1.35). No significant differences were found between team and individual sport athletes. The findings suggest that quality experiences vary among individuals who compete at different levels of Para sport. It may be important for competitive and elite Para sport programs to examine the role of athlete autonomy in creating quality sport experiences and in optimizing participation and well-being.

Acknowledgments: This work was supported by a partnership grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (grant no. 895-2013-1021) for the Canadian Disability Participation Project (