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Youth sport research has expanded considerably since the founding of the Michigan State University Institute for the Study of Youth Sports in 1978. This research has resulted in meaningful advancements in knowledge and proved enormously valuable in both safeguarding athlete well-being and fostering positive sport experiences. There are still knowledge gaps in the scholarly literature that have important implications for youth sport participants and programs. Hopefully, the quantity and quality of the scholarly literature on youth sport will continue to expand in response to broader societal changes and scientific advances. This paper addresses the future of youth sport scholarship, focusing on 3 selected areas of promise. The first pertains to positive youth development work, including efforts tied to fostering economic opportunity among young people. The second pertains to youth sport as a domain for addressing public health, an emerging area with respect to physical activity promotion, injury surveillance, physical well-being, and mental health. Finally, the paper addresses implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for youth sport and how this might shape scholarship over the coming decades. Pursuing these areas of research while attending to important opportunities for and challenges to the promotion of developmentally appropriate youth sport experiences is expected to meaningfully contribute to knowledge and, ultimately, the well-being of young athletes.
The authors are with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.