Youth Sport Participation and Withdrawal: Is It Simply a Matter of FUN?

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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In 1990 the Athletic Footwear Association (AFA) (1) released a report entitled “American Youth and Sports Participation” that examined teenagers’ (ages 10-18 years) feelings about their sport involvement. This report was the culmination of an extensive study of more than 10,000 young people from 11 cities across the U.S. in which issues related to why teenagers participate, why they quit, and their feelings about winning were addressed. The results highlighted in the AFA report indicate that (a) participation in organized sports declines sharply as youngsters get older, (b) “fun” is the key reason for involvement and “lack of fun” is one of the primary reasons for discontinuing, (c) winning plays less of a role than most adults would think, and (d) not all athletes have the same motivations for their involvement.

Linda M. Petlichkoff is with the Department of HPER, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725.

This study was conducted in 1987 by Martha E. Ewing and Vern Seefeldt of the Youth Sports Institute at Michigan State University. The results compiled from over 10,000 students’ questionnaires were summarized and reported to the AFA in 1988. Further analyses were conducted by Sophisticated Data Research, Inc., in 1989. Dr. Steve Danish of the Psychology Department at the Virginia Commonwealth University provided further interpretations of the data analyses. Details from this study are available from the Athletic Footwear Association, 200 Castlewood Drive, North Palm Beach, FL 33408.

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