There is a significant investment by schools and local communities in the athletic programs offered by secondary schools. A growing issue is, to what extent does the functioning of these sports programs coincide with the formal academic goals of the school? Using a structural equations model, we examine one theme within this major issue by estimating the effect of high school sports participation on sport and leisure activity later in adulthood. Further investigated is the process by which these effects are played out over the transition from adolescence to adulthood, as well as gender differences in the pattern of effects. Using the EEO panel of 1955 high school sophomores reinterviewed in 1970, we find that varsity and nonvarsity sports participation in high school increases adult sports involvement. However, whereas high school sports participation does not retard reading or “high-status” leisure pursuits in adulthood, curriculum track placement during high school does enhance these activities later in life. Track effects were also largely independent of completed school level. Finally, gender variations in the model were present but not uniformly so and largely appear to make sport participation and tracking effects significant only among men.
Direct all correspondence to Frank M. Howell, Social Science Research Center, P.O. Box C, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762.