Too Much of a Good Thing?

Exploring Diminishing Returns in Collegiate Recreational Sports


  • Leeann M. Lower-Hoppe The Ohio State University
  • Laura S. Dahl North Dakota State University
  • Shea M. Brgoch The Ohio State University
  • Stephen Dahl North Dakota State University


student involvement, non-linear relationships, intellectual benefits, social benefits, fitness benefits


College students balance several social, academic, and work roles during their tenure on campus. Students often engage in collegiate recreational sports (CRS) during their leisure time, which is considered a major aspect of the college experience and is linked to positive student outcomes. Guided by Astin’s (1999) theory of involvement and the concept of diminishing returns (Shephard & Färe, 1974), this study assessed the relationships between CRS involvement and student benefits across three outcome areas (i.e., intellectual, social, and physical) to identify whether participation produced a point of diminished outputs for any outcome. Multiple regression analysis indicated CRS participation was significantly positively related to the three perceived outcome areas. Additionally, the relationship between CRS involvement and each perceived outcome was linear, suggesting there was no point of diminishing returns. Implications of these findings for recreational sport professionals in terms of program design and administration are discussed.


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