Methods: The study sample was drawn from the Athletic Involvement Study of Students at a large northeastern university. In total, 621 undergraduate students who completed the anonymous questionnaire reported participating in community or collegiate sports. Items from the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory were used to measure sexual relationship preferences; specifically, non-monogyny in relationships (α = .88). Additionally, dominance (α = .68), winning (α = .80), risk taking (α = .83), and violence (α = .81) among college students who participate in sport were assessed. Hierarchical multiple regressions were performed to assess whether dominance and winning as well as risk taking and violence predicted sexual relationship preferences while controlling for gender, race, age, and type of sport.
Results: Of the 621 undergraduate students who completed the survey, 352 (56.7%) were males and the majority (n=365, 58.8%) participated in contact sports. In Model 1, gender, race, age, and sport type explained 19.6% of the variance in non-monogamous sexual relationships (F (4,685) = 41.87, p < .001). After adding feelings of success (dominance, winning) in Model 2, the model explained 20.8% of the variance in non-monogamous sexual relationships (R2 Change = .012, F (6,683) = 29.98, p < .001). Dominance was a significant predictor in Model 2 (β= .155, p < .001). When including risk taking behaviors (risk taking, violence) in Model 3, the model as a whole explained 27.6% of the variance in non-monogamous sexual relationships after controlling for gender, race, age, and sport type (R2 Change = .068, F (8,681) = 32.49, p < .001). In the final model, the significant predictors of non-monogamous sexual relationships were gender (β= -.323, p < .001), dominance, (β= .092, p < .001), violence (β = .172, p < .001), and risk taking (β = .167, p < .001).
Conclusions and Implications: Results indicate that males involved in sport endorsed higher scores of non-monogamous sexual relationships. Subscales on dominance, violence, and risk taking were all significant positive predictors of non-monogamous sexual relationships. These findings are consistent with past studies where hegemonic masculinity contributed to problematic relationships; yet, there were no differences based on sport type. Social workers are uniquely positioned to tailor sexual assault prevention with college students involved in sports to raise awareness of healthy relationships.