Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management


Barcelona, Robert

Committee Member

Schmalz , Dorothy

Committee Member

Brookover , Robert


Whitewater kayaking has grown in popularity over the past two decades (NSRE, 1994; NSRE, 2000). Because of this growth a better understanding of participants motivations could assist vendors, programmers, and decision making bodies for the future of the sport. The intent of this study is to explore the differences between the demographic variables age, sex, and skill level on the motivations to participate in whitewater kayaking. A secondary purpose was to assess the differences between the basic psychological needs (i.e., autonomy, competence, and relatedness) and motivation to participate in the sport of whitewater kayaking.
Whitewater enthusiasts were recruited from across the United States via online forums to participate in a survey to identify basic needs and motivations. The basic psychological needs theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) and the leisure motivation scale (Beard & Ragheb, 1983) was used to measure the motivations of whitewater kayakers. A self-identifying questionnaire focusing on age, gender, region, and whitewater class provided socio-demographics while a Likert-type scale was used for the quantitative statistics. Literature pertaining to outdoor recreation suggests leisure motivations and basic psychological needs play a role in the reasons for participation (Galloway, 2011; Mota & Esculcas, 2002; Netz & Raviv, 2010; O'Connell, 2010).
The findings of this study largely support the literature suggesting a difference among leisure motivations, basic psychological needs, age, and skill. While limitations do exist pertaining to self-reporting, the implications of this study include programming, trainings, marketing, and safety education for whitewater kayakers.