The Fun Integration Theory: Toward Sustaining Children and Adolescents Sport Participation

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Children cite “fun” as the primary reason for participation in organized sport and its absence as the number-one reason for youth sport attrition. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to develop a theoretical framework of fun using a novel mixed-method assessment of participants in sport (FUN MAPS) via concept mapping.

Methods:

Youth soccer players (n = 142), coaches (n = 37), and parents (n = 57) were stratified by age, sex, and competition level and contributed their ideas through (a) qualitative brainstorming, identifying all of the things that make playing sports fun for players; (b) sorting of ideas; and (c) rating each idea on its importance, frequency, and feasibility.

Results:

The FUN MAPS identify the 4 fundamental tenets of fun in youth sport within 11 fun-dimensions composed of 81 specific fun-determinants, while also establishing the youth sport ethos.

Conclusion:

The FUN MAPS provide pictorial evidence-based blueprints for the fun integration theory (FIT), which is a multitheoretical, multidimensional, and stakeholder derived framework that can be used to maximize fun for children and adolescents to promote and sustain an active and healthy lifestyle through sport.

Visek (avisek@gwu.edu), Mannix, and DiPietro are with the Dept of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences, The George Washington University, Washington, DC. Achrati is with the School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, MA. McDonnell is with the Dept of Prevention and Community Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC. Harris is with the Dept of Health & Kinesiology, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA.