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Shannon Gadbois, Anne Bowker, Linda Rose-Krasnor and Leanne Findlay

Research on extracurricular activities emphasizes developmental opportunities for youth. This literature has infrequently considered youth’s psychological engagement or the specific content associated with these opportunities and has primarily been focused on structured rather than unstructured activities. In this qualitative study, 51 youth (age 12–18 years) who were psychologically engaged in structured sport (n = 19), structured nonsport (n = 17), or unstructured (n = 15) activities discussed developmental opportunities and the experiences they associated with them. Youth in all groups reported having developmental opportunities and described experiences emphasizing social interaction, skill-related, emotional impact, and positive outcome themes and an awareness of the positive and negative aspects of some experiences. Each group also reported unique experiences associated with its activities (e.g., structured-sport youth were least likely to indicate they did not like something about their activities). The similarities and differences across groups are discussed, considering factors that might contribute to and promote psychological engagement in extracurricular activities.

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Anne Bowker, Belinda Boekhoven, Amanda Nolan, Stephanie Bauhaus, Paul Glover, Tamara Powell and Shannon Taylor

The purpose of the current study was to conduct an examination of spectator (i.e., parental) behavior at youth hockey games in a large Canadian city. Using naturalistic observation methods, an event sampling procedure was used to code spectators’ comments. Of specific interest were the type of remarks made, who made them (i.e., males versus females), the intensity of those remarks and whether they varied by child age, gender, and competitive level. We were also interested in whether the majority of onlookers’ comments were actually directed at the players, on-ice officials, or fellow spectators. Five observers attended 69 hockey games during the 2006–2007 hockey season. There was a significant variability in the number of comments made, with an average of 105 comments per game. The majority of the comments were generally positive ones, directed at the players. Negative comments, although quite infrequent, were directed largely at the referees. Females made more comments than did males, although males made more negative and corrective comments, and females made mostly positive comments. Comments varied significantly as a function of gender and competitive level. Proportionally more negative comments were made at competitive, as opposed to recreational games. An interaction was found for female spectators as their comments varied as a function of both the competitive level and the gender of the players. Results of this study are in direct contrast to media reports of extreme parental violence at youth hockey games, and provide unique information about the role of parental involvement at youth sporting events.