Building on group performance research and the sociology of sport, in this study I compare how two varsity basketball teams competing at the DIII level at Hamilton College strive to succeed together. In examining how small groups work together and manage themselves, I contribute to understandings of how group dynamics and cultures affect collegiate athletic “success.” Many things affect athletic teams: coaching, membership changes, resources, and talent. Through interviews with coaches and players, ethnographic observation, and statistical data from both teams’ upcoming season, I show what really matters to be a winning team. Results suggest that success is interpreted by teams relative to their prior achievements, both good and bad. To achieve important goals, team leadership must consider the lifestyle and priorities of players. Lastly, while winning is not essential to team cohesion, it can serve as a mechanism to improve group bonding and respect.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.