Huge numbers of children participate in sports. However, kids and sports are rarely seen, much less systematically studied by sport sociologists. Our survey of the past decade of three major sport sociology journals illustrates a dearth of scholarly research on children and sport. While noting the few exceptions, we observe that sport studies scholars have placed a disproportionate amount of emphasis on studying sport media, and elite amateur, college, and professional athletes and sport organizations, while largely conceding the terrain of children’s sports to journalists and to a handful of scholars whose work is not grounded in sport sociology. We probe this paradox, speculating why sport scholars focus so little on such a large and important object of study in sport studies. We end by outlining a handful of important scholarly questions for sport scholars, focusing especially on key questions in the burgeoning sociological and interdisciplinary fields of children and youth, bodies and health, and intersectional analyses of social inequality.
Messner is professor of sociology and gender studies, Musto is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology. Both are at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.