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Using Fragile Families data (N = 2,581), this study analyzes father’s engagement in sports and outdoor activities with their nine year-old child. It also considers the implications of these interactions for health and father-child relationships. First, the results indicate patterns of relatively high levels of father engagement. Most fathers reported doing sports or outdoor activities with their child once per week or more. Second, the results show socioeconomic, gender, and family structure discrepancies in the likelihood that fathers engage in sports or outdoor activities with their child. Finally, the findings reveal that father-child interactions in sports and outdoor activities are positively associated with reports of health and father-child closeness, for both fathers and children. Thus, it seems that father-child interactions in sports and outdoor activities can serve as purposive forms of leisure that can have positive effects for health and relationships.
Knoester, faculty member, and Randolph, Economics student, are with The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.