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Sport Parent Perceptions of American Youth Football Costs, Benefits, and Safety

Andrew Romaine, J.D. DeFreese, Kevin Guskiewicz, and Johna Register-Mihalik

As head injuries in American football have received increasing publicity, the safety of the sport has become a great concern for parents nationwide. The purpose of this study was to examine perceived safety concerns in youth football using Eccles’ expectancy-value model (Eccles et al., 1983). We hypothesized perceived safety concerns to moderate relationships between parent perceptions of parent cost/benefit, child cost/benefit, and child motivation and enjoyment outcomes for football. Youth football parents (N = 105, M age = 42) completed valid and reliable online assessments of study variables. Regression analyses revealed child safety concerns (as rated by parents) to mediate, rather than moderate, the relationship between parent safety concerns and child cost perceptions (as rated by parents). Furthermore, safety concerns did not significantly associate with child achievement outcomes of motivation and enjoyment. Results provide valuable insight into parent and child attitudes toward youth football safety. Such knowledge may inform future educational interventions targeting sport safety promotion.

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Exploring Early Sport Specialization: Associations With Psychosocial Outcomes

Shelby Waldron, J.D. DeFreese, Brian Pietrosimone, Johna Register-Mihalik, and Nikki Barczak

Sport specialization has been linked to multiple negative health related outcomes including increased injury risk and sport attrition, yet a gap remains in our understanding of potential psychological outcomes of early specialization (≤ age 12). The current study evaluated the associations between retrospective athlete reports of sport specialization and both retroactive and current psychological health outcomes. Early specializers reported significantly higher levels of multiple maladaptive psychological outcomes (e.g., global athlete burnout, emotional and physical exhaustion, sport devaluation, amotivation). Overall, findings suggest that specialization environment factors, in addition to the age of specialization, are potentially critical factors in determining health and well-being outcomes. Findings support prominent position statements suggesting early specialization may be associated with increased health risks. Study findings may also inform the development of guidelines and recommendations to aid parents, coaches, and athletes in positively impacting athlete psychosocial outcomes.

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Athlete Resilience Trajectories Across Competitive Training: The Influence of Physical and Psychological Stress

Nikki E. Barczak-Scarboro, Emily Kroshus, Brett Pexa, Johna K. Register Mihalik, and J.D. DeFreese

Competitive sport involves physical and psychological stressors, such as training load and stress perceptions, that athletes must adapt to in order to maintain health and performance. Psychological resilience, one’s capacity to equilibrate or adapt affective and behavioral responses to adverse physical or emotional experiences, is an important topic in athlete training and performance. The study purpose was to investigate associations of training load and perceived sport stress with athlete psychological resilience trajectories. Sixty-one collegiate club athletes (30 females and 31 males) completed self-reported surveys over 6 weeks of training. Athletes significantly differed in resilience at the beginning of competitive training. Baseline resilience differences were associated with resilience trajectories. Perceived stress and training load were negatively associated with resilience. Physical and psychological stressors had a small but statistically significant impact on resilience across weeks of competitive training, indicating that both types of stressors should be monitored to maintain athlete resilience.