How do involvement opportunities vary according to sample segment in Masters swimmers?


Involvement opportunities (IOs) are perceived benefits that are only present through continued sport involvement (Weiss & Amorose, 2008). Knowing which IOs are poignant in different segments of a population may be important in explaining participants’ sport commitment, their behaviours, and purchase intentions (Casper & Stellino, 2008; Young, Bennett & Séguin, 2014). This study examined how 724 Masters swimmers judged IOs, as a function of age group (25-39, 40-54, 55-69, 70+), sex, prior participation length (< 5, 5+ yrs), and probability (low, high) of attending a World championship event. Participants reported information on demographics, sport involvement, intentions, and responded to a survey (Bennett & Young, 2013) assessing 10 different IOs. A series of MANOVAs identified differences according to sample segments, all ps < .007. All age cohorts highly recognized opportunities for ‘enjoyment’, ‘health and fitness’, ‘social’, ‘stress relief’ and ‘personal testing and assessment’, though the youngest group viewed the latter two IOs most highly. Each consecutively older group acknowledged ‘delaying/negotiating aging’ with increasing importance, and ‘team attachment’ with decreasing importance. Males more highly reported ‘personal testing and assessment’ and ‘recognition for competitive achievements’, whereas females more highly acknowledged ‘enjoyment’, ‘stress relief’, ‘health and fitness’, ‘social’, and ‘team attachment’. Short-term swimmers judged ‘personal testing and assessment’ and ‘team attachment’ more highly, whereas long-term swimmers rated ‘delaying/negotiating aging’ and ‘travel’ highly. Swimmers indicating probable attendance at an open World championship were higher on ‘personal testing and assessment’, ‘team attachment’, ‘recognition for competitive achievements’, and ‘travel’.  Findings suggest that Masters swimmers recognize special opportunities arising from sport, which they risk losing should they quit. The salience of certain IOs depends on the participatory segment. Discussion focuses on how sport programmers, managers, and Masters event marketers might increase the effectiveness of their communication activities by strategically matching content in their promotional messages to segment-specific IOs.