Extrinsic And Intrinsic Motivators Within Sports

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In professional sports athletes can be paid up to very large amounts of money. Through these large sums of money being paid this can lead to athletes becoming more extrinsically motivated rather than intrinsically motivated. Intrinsic motivation is where a person (athlete in this case) is performing because they enjoy the activity whereas extrinsic motivation is when people are more driven to perform by the external rewards available for example fame, money and praise. Many sports teams use money as an extrinsic motivator to help give their players an extra boost of motivation alongside their love of the sport. This has proven both positive and negative in many different cases and has brought up many discussions as to whether these athletes should be getting paid these large sums of money as many believe that all this leads to is the athletes becoming spoiled, allowing for the question of “To what extent are athletes intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?”. Alongside this, these large sums of money have also impacted the youth of today as for them to feel successful about their career they feel they must play for the highest paying teams and earn the largest salaries or else they will not be happy. This investigation will look at examples such Leicester City winning the premier league 2015-16 compared to the richer teams such as Manchester United (wages, incentives, team costs), Patrick Reed a professional golfer, and Marcus Davenport a highly ranked college football player, and Lance Armstrong who was questionably one of the world’s most successful athletes in cycling.

In terms of research, secondary research was used most predominantly and the internet. The internet was very useful and convenient as it allowed for me to gain a much larger access of information in a quicker time, however the information provided was occasionally off topic and not reared towards the question I was asking. The business textbook was also a very good source as it was already focused towards the information I was looking for and it provided me with the motivation theories that I will be analyzing and using in my essay.

The analysis will be looking at the different motivation theories correlating with the specific method of motivation. The motivation theorists that will be looked at include Dan Pink and Abraham Maslow (intrinsic motivation theory for Leicester City, Patrick Reed, and Marcus Davenport), and in terms of extrinsic motivation I will be looking at the financial rewards available to the athletes, and the theory produced by John Adams.

Leicester City & England vs Iceland

Leicester City’s win of the BPL (Barclays Premier League) was one of the most shocking yet exciting league wins in history. They were not only given 5000-1 odds of winning the BPL but they also had one of the lowest wage bills out of the entire league having their costs total up to only 36 million dollars (now raised to 57), in comparison to the likes of clubs such as Manchester United with costs of over 400 million pounds or Manchester City and Chelsea who are right behind that. Furthermore, Leicester achieved this feat using the least number of players out of every single team in the league while teams like Manchester United’s squad had over 10 more players been played throughout the year (an entirely new starting squad). This extraordinary feat that although they may not have had the resources or expenses like the other teams the managers were still able to maintain the athlete’s motivation levels allowing for them to play to the fullest of their abilities and in turn winning the league. This contrast between expenses can be fully describes as seen whilst comparing the two different salaries between the two stars of each club; these being Jamie Vardy and Wayne Rooney. In terms of weekly salaries Wayne Rooney was receiving up to 300,000 pounds a week compared to a far more in-form Jamie Vardy earning only 40,000 pounds a week. Moreover, an even greater contrast can be seen between the two players’ performances with Rooney appearing in 38 matches and scoring 15 matches compared to Vardy’s outstanding 24 goals.

Daniel Pink is a good theory to analyze when looking at this as it allows for us to breakdown the different aspects and elements that were achieved (autonomy, mastery, and purpose) allowing for Leicester’s win of the league. Firstly, according to Pink autonomy can be described as ‘the desire to direct our own lives’ which argues that allowing employees autonomy in the work area contradicts the more traditional view of management that wants employees to comply with what is demanded of them and can be broken down into 4 main aspects: time, task, team and technique. In terms of Leicester autonomy plays a very important role in the players motivation as providing the athletes with these aspects allows for them to work and improve on more personal features of their sport for example giving them time to work on shooting and dribbling will then cause them to be more compliant when asked to participate and take part in other drills requested by the coaches. Mastery is the next step in Pink’s theory and can be described as ‘the desire to continually improve at something that matters’ and argues that we as humans love to improve and get better at stuff allowing for employees to gain satisfaction and feel a sense of progress. This can be linked with Leicester City as, since they were competing against some of the best competition in the world this created a great challenge for the players as they knew for them to successfully achieve this feat they would need to really focus and dedicate themselves to their training. Additionally, as they were given this challenge this allowed for players to adapt and improve their skills when faced with teams that were better. This reinforces the main point Pink described as to the players on the team winning the league was something that really mattered and was very important to them so although the challenge was difficult they knew they could adapt and improve to successfully complete the task at hand.

The last stage in Pink’s theory is purpose. Purpose being ‘the desire to do things in service in something bigger than us ourselves’. In this case the purpose the athletes had in this case was to win as many matches and when it came to it win the league (which for most people would be a stretch as they had not come close to winning the league in many years so the probability of them winning was put so low). This would be very motivating for the players on the team as this provided them with a mission and a challenge in which they had to accept and take on thus forcing them to put in the extra time and sacrifice more. Additionally, as the team had never won a league title before this would be even more motivating to the players as if they were to successfully achieve this goal then it would bring a lot of pride for not only the players but also the loyal fans that had been supporting the club through all this time, no matter how well or bad the team was performing. Additionally, as the team had never won a Barclays Premier League title ever this was a very historical and memorable moment for those supporting the team and for those who don’t fully support Leicester as it shows all the other teams that you do not simply need money in order to win something and that in order to win you actually need the correct motivation and the correct team chemistry and training. Football players are also faced with many different incentives (an incentive being ‘something that motivates or encourages one to do something’). In terms of football there can be many different incentives categorized into two sections; these being financial incentives and non-financial incentives. An example of a financial incentive in terms of football being things such as salaries and bonuses, while some non-financial incentives could include the following teamwork, achievement, recognition, honor, and pride. A great example in football is when Iceland beat England (seen as far more skilled at football) in the Euro 2016 tournament. This is especially interesting when comparing the incentives produced for/ by the players from each country but additionally also the amazing figures behind each country. Iceland only has 21,500 registered football players and out of their total history have only had 16 players achieve playing for an English premier league club which is a major contrast compared to the 8.2 million people registered to a football team in England and the highly successful and competitive environment. Additionally, the two countries have contrasting incentives when it comes to international competitions. For example, the players of Iceland are much more motivated through the non-financial incentives such as pride, honor, achievement, and teamwork as they have worked really hard in order to be in the position that they are in as they are not as large or skilled as the other countries and they know that this opportunity is very rare (1st time ever qualifying), as of 4 years ago Iceland’s world ranking was in the 130s compared to their now place of around 30, whereas with the England team although there is still that sense of pride and, honor however, for them this feeling may not be as strong as they have participated in competitions like this before so the feeling is not the same. Additionally, England has only not qualified for the tournament 3 times out of the 17 times the World Cup has been held so the fact that they qualified may not have had the same amount of significance to them as it would have had in terms of those players competing for Iceland.

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A good motivational theory that can link to this is the theory put forward by John Adams. This theory known as the ‘equity theory’ is based around 3 concepts: inputs, outputs, and equity and suggests that employees will be motivated when they perceive that a balance exists between their inputs into the business/ team and their outputs from it.

Inputs that can be linked with the players on a football are:

  • Dedication + Time
  • Effort
  • Determination
  • Hard Work
  • Skill
  • Loyalty
  • Personal Sacrifice
  • Support from co-workers (teammates)
  • Attitude.

The outputs than can be linked with the players are:

  • Praise
  • Recognition
  • Salary
  • Reward
  • Reputation
  • Sense of Achievement
  • Thanks.

These can be linked strongly with these players as they have had to put in a lot of work over their career and have had to spend thousands upon thousands of hours dedicating themselves to improving and working to better themselves so in return they want to reap the rewards to their efforts. Furthermore, they had to show trust and support in their coaches and other players which allowed for them to build more chemistry between the different members of the team, thus allowing for them to become more efficient and better communicative with each other. In terms of Iceland, this can be seen greatly as although they are not the best football country in the world they put in the time and effort needed for them to be competitive and keep up with the many other larger and richer countries (in the case England) thus allowing them to receive the equal outputs of not only beating a more competitive and respected team but also managing to qualify for their very first World Cup in 2018. This has allowed for the Iceland players to maintain their current levels of motivation as they have been shown that their joint effort and dedication to their country and their training has ultimately led to them achieving great successes for them personally but also for their country as well as this was the first time they were able to achieve this, thus giving them a huge sense of reward, recognition and thanks, while at the same time creating a huge sense of pride within their supporters.

Patrick Reed Sponsorship Situation

Patrick Reed is a professional golfer that plays on the PGA golf tour and European tour most notable for his victories in the 2018 Masters Tournament and the 2014 WGC- Cadillac Championship. However, up until recently he is one of the only professional golfers that choose not to have a sponsor for his equipment (this being his clubs and golf balls). Although he is backed by Nike in terms of clothing but has decided that in terms of equipment he would rather not commit all his loyalties to one brand. This is because of his belief that one brand cannot make the perfect set of clubs and he prefers to use the clubs he feels are the best for him and allow for him to play his best game. Frederick Herzberg is a good motivational theorist that developed a two-factor theory based on hygiene needs and motivational needs. Hygiene needs being needs that provide dissatisfaction at work while motivators are things that get you working because you get some intrinsic reward from them.

Herzberg’s theory links with Reed as he was faced with problems to do with the hygiene side of motivation. This being that if he would’ve had to use the equipment provided by a sponsor then he would not have full satisfaction and he would not play to his full ability. To solve this problem, Reed instead decided that to use the best equipment available to him he would remove his sponsorship so that he could use the equipment that he felt was the best no matter what brand it was made by. However, by removing this sponsorship he also removed a large portion of his finances (hygiene need however it did not affect him), Additionally, in terms of hygiene factors if Reed was not confident in his abilities with the equipment or just in the equipment himself then this could have caused him to play to a lower level than his actual ability as these could have impacted his self-confidence with the equipment. but he could counter this loss by creating a partnership between himself and Nike regarding the clothing side of the sport, while also freeing him up as he did not have to meet the demands and needs in terms of the other sponsors telling him to use their equipment. Whilst also adding that these big deals were something that he did not want to get stuck on. This decision in turn allowed for Reed to play better as he was then able to perform very well an in the end win the 2018 Masters Tournament as he could use the equipment that he was most comfortable and confident with thus improving his performance.

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong is known to be one of the most successful cyclists of all time, most commonly known for his 7 consecutive wins of the Tour de France (the most competitive stage of cycling in the world), while also obtaining a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics. However, he was found to be using performance enhancing drugs which in turn got him banned from all competitive racing and he was stripped of all medals or trophies he received.

John Adams motivation theory can be used when analyzing this through his use of the input, output theory. In terms of Lance Armstrong, the inputs included dedication, personal sacrifice, skill, time, determination, effort, hard work, and ability. This is because in order to get to this level there had to be a lot of time dedicated to improving and enhancing skills. However, he showed personal sacrifice when taking the risk of using the performance enhancing drugs as when doing this he sacrificed his safety inside international competition as if he was to be caught it would destroy his career and reputation. Additionally, Lance would have to have to be very determined in not only his training but also with his dieting and other aspects of life as in order to compete at such a high level you have to be very disciplined in everything you do to ensure peak performance and good results. However, on the other hand Lance’s outputs were very large as he received a massive boost to not only reputation, praise, recognition, and sense of achievement. Through his wins Lance was able to gain a huge following and a very impressive reputation of being one of the fastest and best cyclists to have ever lived, while he also received a lot of praise and recognition as he was able to achieve so much in his career. Additionally, through his wins he was able to improve and maintain motivation to keep training and working hard as these wins allowed for him to gain a lot of confidence. However, Lance was completely engulfed within the thought of the rewards and money that was made available through winning the Tour de France. This then caused him to use performance enhancing drugs, ruining the environment of the sport and making it unfair and ultimately leading to his downfall and reputation ruined.

To conclude, although the majority of athletes are intrinsically motivated and are motivated by just the enjoyment of the sports in which they play, to an extent they are all extrinsically motivated to a specific event and eventually once they have achieved a good amount of success they will eventually demand more extrinsic rewards such as increased salaries or bonuses as they feel they are of more worth and deserve more money.

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