Does Sport Foster Social Capital? The Contribution of Sport to a Lifestyle of Community Participation

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Thomas Perks University of Lethbridge

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Little research has been done to date on the contribution of sport to a lifestyle of community participation. This is despite theoretical support from the social capital literature for the suggestion that the relationships and trust fostered through sport participation should lead to involvement in community activities outside of sport. The present study addresses this gap in the research by testing whether participation in organized youth sport positively predicts involvement in particular community activities as an adult. Based on an analysis of survey data collected from a representative sample of Canadians, the findings show that youth sport participation was positively related to adult involvement in community activities, although the predictive effects of youth sport participation were small. The findings also show that the effects of youth sport participation on adult participation in community activities lasted throughout the lifecycle. Both findings are consistent with the social capital literature.

The author is with the Department of Sociology, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Dr., Lethbridge, Alberta.

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