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A long-term study of sport event volunteers: Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon Weekend in 2012 and 2022

Julie Cencula Olberding (Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, Kentucky, USA)
Douglas J. Olberding (Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)

International Journal of Event and Festival Management

ISSN: 1758-2954

Article publication date: 4 April 2024

Issue publication date: 19 April 2024




This study examined the characteristics, motivations and satisfaction of volunteers for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon Weekend across a 10-year period. The purpose was to enhance our understanding of sport event volunteers, especially in the long term. This information and insight may be useful in light of ongoing challenges with volunteer recruitment and retention, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The authors developed and implemented an online survey, based primarily on the Special Event Volunteer Motivation Scale (SEVMS) and the Volunteer Motivations Scale for International Sporting Events (VMS-ISE). The sample included a total of 2,038 respondents – 1,086 in 2012 and 952 in 2022. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Chi-square tests; qualitative data provided additional insight.


About two-thirds of 2022 survey respondents were “repeat volunteers.” Volunteer characteristics, motivations and satisfaction remained relatively consistent across the 10-year period. These volunteers were motivated by a set of multiple, interrelated factors which the authors call “community-based altruism” – that is, the desire to help others driven by a sense of community involvement and pride. In both years, more than 90% were satisfied with their volunteer experience. Satisfaction was higher for individuals with certain characteristics such as being a repeat volunteer and volunteering with a group.


This may be the first scholarly article to assess volunteer characteristics, motivations and satisfaction for a major sport event in the same location across multiple years. While it focused on a three-day running event in a midwestern city in the United States, the approach and findings may be applicable to sport event volunteers in other contexts.



Statistical analysis and interpretations were completed with the assistance of the Northern Kentucky University Burkardt Consulting Center (Highland Heights, KY).


Olberding, J.C. and Olberding, D.J. (2024), "A long-term study of sport event volunteers: Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon Weekend in 2012 and 2022", International Journal of Event and Festival Management, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 249-269.



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