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Sport development has become a leading issue for sport policymakers and sport managers worldwide. Sport development systems have two main objectives: to increase the number of participants actively engaged in sport and to enhance the quality of performances in sport. This is the foundation of the much used, but rarely examined, pyramid analogy in sport development. In this article, the pyramid model of sport development is explored, and its underlying assumptions are critiqued. Three tasks necessary for an effective pyramid model are identified: athlete recruitment, athlete retention, and athlete transitions. Recruitment requires the assistance of significant others, as well as the proliferation of many smaller, local-level sport programs. Retention requires a focus on motivation, socialization, and commitment. Advancement requires that programs be linked vertically and that athletes be aided in processes of locating and socializing into new levels of involvement. Although specific strategies for enhancing recruitment, retention, and transition of athletes can be identified from the literature, further research is needed.
Green is with the Dept of Kinesiology and Health Education, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas.