A thesis presented to the University of Waterloo in fulfillment of the degree of Masters of Arts in Recreation and Leisure Studies. Below is an abstract of the study:

Participation in campus recreation provides an opportunity for students to improve their health and well-being, develop connections with other students and the university, engage in enjoyable and personally meaningful recreation, and enhance their academic performance. Despite the importance of recreation for university students, understandings of why only some students participate in recreation on campus are limited. Partnering with the Campus Athletic Recreation Network at the University of Waterloo, this study sought to develop theoretical and practical insights into participation and non-participation.

Theoretically, the study draws on the Psychological Continuum Model which identifies awareness and attraction as preceding conditions to individuals reaching the stages of psychological attachment and loyal behaviour. Additionally, this study also draws on leisure constraint theory to further explain variations in levels of participation.

The study explored the following research questions: (1) Is greater awareness of campus recreation opportunities associated with higher levels of participation? (2) What constraints reduce participation in campus recreation notwithstanding the effects of awareness? (3) What motivations are associated with participation in campus recreation notwithstanding the effects of awareness? and (4) What organizational strategies might increase an interest in participating in campus recreation? This study also explored how awareness, constraints, motivation, and organizational strategies differed based on gender and international vs domestic students.

Data were collected from students using a cross-sectional survey during the spring and fall terms of 2018. A total of 314 usable surveys were returned. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to examine how awareness, motivations, and constraints were associated with varying levels of participation in three types of campus recreation (i.e., intramural sport, drop-in sport, fitness). ANOVAs were used to examine differences in awareness, motivation, constraints, and organizational strategies based on gender and student type. Results revealed that awareness of opportunities was significantly and positively associated with levels of participation in all three types of campus recreation.

Furthermore, results indicate the effects of constraints and motivation differ based on the type of campus recreation activity and student characteristics. For example, constraints such as “takes too much of my time” and “don’t know enough people” had statistically significant associations with drop in sports participation but not for fitness centre participation. This study has important implications for practitioners seeking to increase campus recreation participation levels.

By Vinu Selvaratnam

The views expressed in this article are my own and do not represent any institution.