Predictors of Poor Sportspersonship in Youth Sports: Personal Attitudes and Social Influences

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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The present study examined personal and social correlates of poor sportspersonship among youth sport participants. Male and female athletes (n = 676) in the fifth through eighth grades from three geographic regions of the U.S. participated in the study. Young athletes involved in basketball, soccer, football, hockey, baseball/ softball, or lacrosse completed a questionnaire that tapped poor sportspersonship behaviors and attitudes, team sportspersonship norms, perceptions of the poor sportspersonship behaviors of coaches and spectators, and the sportspersonship norms of coaches and parents. Preliminary analyses revealed significant gender, grade, sport area, and location differences in self-reported unsportspersonlike behavior. The main analysis revealed that self-reported poor sport behaviors were best predicted by perceived coach and spectator behaviors, followed by team norms, sportspersonship attitudes, and the perceived norms of parents and coaches. Results are discussed in relation to the concept of moral atmosphere.

Shields and Bredemeier are with the Center for Character and Citizenship, College of Education, University of Missouri–St. Louis; LaVoi is with the School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota; and Power is with the Program of Liberal Studies, University of Notre Dame.