Paternal Closeness in Adolescence: The Association of Sports and Gender

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Tom R. LeppardDepartment of Sociology and Anthropology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA

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Mikaela J. DufurDepartment of Sociology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, USA

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Recent research suggests positive associations between shared recreational activities and father–child relationships for young children. We extend these ideas to adolescents and to recreational activities in which the father’s participation might be limited to audience membership. We use the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to evaluate whether an association exists between adolescent sports participation and paternal relationships, focusing on the adolescent’s perspective, and whether these associations differ for boys and girls. Findings show positive associations between sports participation and closer relationships between fathers and adolescents. Sports participation was more important for boys’ relationships with fathers than girls’. We discuss our findings in terms of contemporary shifts in gendered norms and conclude that gender may remain salient in how sport participation can promote father–child relationships.

Leppard (trleppar@ncsu.edu) is corresponding author, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5654-7246

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