More than Just Letting Them Play: Parental Influence on Women’s Lifetime Sport Involvement

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 The University of Texas
  • | 2 University of Connecticut
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This qualitative study uses expectancy-value and life course theories (Giele & Elder, 1998) to examine both the proximal and distal impact of early family socialization on enduring female participation in sport. Seventeen National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I female head coaches from the U.S. participated in interviews regarding parental influence on their sport involvement. Participants revealed three general mechanisms of sport socialization: a) role modeling, b) providing experience, and c) interpreting experience. Parental influence impacted their enduring involvement in sport by normalizing the sport experience, particularly in terms of gender, and by allowing them a voice in their own participation decisions. Insights regarding the roles of both parents and the interactive and contextual nature of socialization for increasing female participation are discussed.

Marlene A. Dixon and Stacy M. Warner are with the Sport and Life Quality Laboratory in the Kinesiology Department at The University of Texas, 1 University Station, D3700, Austin, TX, 78712. Jennifer E. Bruening is with the Kinesiology Department, University of Connecticut, 2095 Hillside Road, U-1110, Storrs, CT 06269-1110.

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