A Qualitative Examination of Adolescent Girls’ Sport Participation in a Low-Income, Urban Environment

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E. Missy Wright California State University East Bay

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Katie R. Griffes Benedictine University

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Daniel R. Gould Michigan State University

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Even though African American girls and/or girls in low-income, urban environments are specifically challenged with their sport involvement, little research has focused specifically on this population’s experience with sport. The purpose of this study was to examine various factors related to sport participation for adolescent girls (predominantly African American) living in a low-income urban environment. The study examined the barriers that might impede their sport involvement, the benefits they perceive, and the reasons why they do or do not participate. Four focus groups were conducted in Detroit, Michigan (a large urban Midwestern city). Participants were grouped by age, as well as sport participation status (current sort participants and girls who have not participated in organized sport for at least one year). Each group consisted of 4 girls. Results revealed various reasons why the participants engaged in sport, including that sport occupies their time and that it is fun, while reasons like lack of opportunities and the negative role of others were some of the reasons provided for not participating in sport. These girls face numerous barriers to sport participation, such as logistical, financial, and cosmetic. Positive psychosocial development and scholarships were noted as benefits to participation. Directions for future research and programmatic level applications are described in light of these findings.

Wright is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, California State University East Bay, Hayward, CA. Griffes is with the College of Education and Health Services, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL. Gould is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Address author correspondence to E. Missy Wright at missy.wright@csueastbay.edu.
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