Sport is viewed as a setting with potential to offer social benefits to youth participants and alleviate broader social problems. Such promise requires intentionality of sport program philosophy, design, and execution. When designed with intentionality, youth sport can bring about positive change for individual youth and societies. This paper overviews the broad literature base, exploring 2 approaches to the promotion of social development through youth sport. One explores social- and/or life-skill development through sport for individual participants, whereas the other examines the role of sport in addressing broader social problems. Evidence-based strategies for fostering social development through youth sport are synthesized, providing guidance to coaches, administrators, youth workers, and others engaged in youth sport design, and exemplar programs that use youth sport as a vehicle for social development are presented. Limitations in youth sport research are summarized, and a call is made for more intentionally designed youth sport to promote social development.
Dawn Anderson-Butcher, Allison Riley, Anthony Amorose, Aidyn Iachini and Rebecca Wade-Mdivanian
Maximizing youth experiences in community sport programs is critical, particularly for vulnerable and/or marginalized youth who may have limited access and opportunity to these experiences. Using second-order latent growth modeling, this study explores the impact of a community sport program, the LiFE Sports Camp, on the development of social and sport skills among vulnerable youth. The importance of a sense of belonging as a key mechanism that contributes to youth outcomes also is examined. The findings of this research point to the value of community sport that is strategically designed to promote both sport and social outcomes in youth, as well as highlights the role of belonging in these contexts. Implications for sports management leaders and practitioners are discussed.