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Clemens Drenowatz, Olivia Wartha, Jochen Klenk, Susanne Brandstetter, Martin Wabitsch and Jürgen Steinacker

This study examined the association between biological maturity, CVD risk, fitness and health behavior in 709 (359 male, 350 female) 8-year-old children (range: 6.3–8.9 years). Sports participation and sedentary behavior was assessed via parent questionnaire. Height and weight was measured and maturity status was predicted based on % of adult-height reached. Fitness was assessed via a test battery and CVD risk was determined using mean arterial pressure, cholesterol and intra-abdominal fat. BMIpercentiles (BMIPCT) differed significantly among early, average and late maturing children. Early maturing children displayed a higher CVD risk profile (0.5 vs. -0.2), lower fitness scores (-0.4 vs. 0.2), and spent more time watching TV (51 vs. 43 min/day) compared with their peers. After controlling for BMIPCT differences remained only for fitness in boys and TV time in girls.

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Meghan Schreck, Robert Althoff, Meike Bartels, Eco de Geus, Jeremy Sibold, Christine Giummo, David Rubin and James Hudziak

Few studies have explored the relation between withdrawn behavior (WB) and exercise and screen time. The current study used exploratory factor analysis to examine the factor structure of leisure-time exercise behavior (LTEB) and screentime sedentary behavior (STSB) in a clinical sample of youth. Structural equation modeling was employed to investigate the relations between WB and LTEB and STSB, conditional on gender. WB was assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist, and LTEB and STSB were measured using the Vermont Health Behavior Questionnaire. LTEB and STSB emerged as two separate factors. Gender moderated the structure of STSB only. For boys and girls, WB was inversely related to LTEB but not significantly related to STSB. LTEB and STSB are best represented as distinct, uncorrelated constructs. In addition, withdrawn youth may be at risk for poor health outcomes due to lower rates of LTEB. Mental health clinicians, sports psychologists, and related providers may be uniquely qualified to enhance motivation for sports participation in withdrawn youth.

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Renée M. Parker, Michael J. Lambert and Gary M. Burlingame

The present study was conducted to determine if female distance runners who report engaging in pathological food behaviors display the psychological characteristics of clinically diagnosed female eating-disordered patients. Comparisons were made among 29 eating-disturbed college runners, 31 normal college runners, 19 clinically diagnosed eating-disordered patients, and 34 nonathletic, non-eating-disordered college students. Measures included a 3-day diet journal, questionnaires collecting both personal information and information on eating behaviors and sports participation, the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI), the Setting Conditions for Anorexia Nervosa Scale (SCANS), and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Without reaching eating-disordered clinical levels, the eating-disturbed runners appeared on psychological inventories as being more concerned with food and dieting than were the comparison runners and non-eating-disordered nonathletes. Only the eating-disordered group presented with significant levels of psychopathology. Implications for the athletic community are discussed.

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Robert Fletcher

Early sociological research describes risk sports as a form of resistance to structural aspects of highly industrialized societies. Recent scholarship, however, suggests that conventional social forces operating on the demographic group (young, White, professional, middle-class males) from which most athletes originate actually motivate risk sports participation. This study contributes to the literature by seeking to explain risk athletes’ characteristic class status, a dynamic largely neglected by previous studies. Drawing on Bourdieu’s analysis of the relationship between sport and social class, I suggest that risk sports appeal particularly to members of the professional middle class because of such sports’ capacity to simultaneously satisfy and provide a temporary escape from a class habitus demanding continual progress through disciplined labor and deferred gratification.

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Thomas Rowland

The two articles in the area of cardiovascular physiology and disease in youth were chosen for commentary because of their exploration of new approaches to the diagnosis and management of cardiovascular derangements in young persons. The first, by Hinds et al., describes the potential clinical importance of detection of cardiovascular changes during exercise testing in adolescent athletes following concussions. This approach might prove useful in establishing safe return-to-play guidelines. The second, a review article by Van De Schoor et al, evaluates the frequency of myocardial scarring in athletes, some of adolescent age, which is a recognized risk factor for sudden cardiac death. These findings support other evidence indicating that sports participation per se might rarely increase the risk of such tragedies. Clearly more research is indicated by the information raised in both of these articles, but their importance to clinical medicine is obvious.

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Kathleen E. Miller and Joseph H. Hoffman

Past research has linked physical activity and sports participation with improved mental and social well-being, including reduced risk of depression and suicidality. In this study we examined relationships among several dimensions of athletic involvement (team sport participation, individual sport participation, athlete identity, and jock identity), gender, and depression and suicidal behavior in a sample of 791 undergraduate students. Both participation in a team sport and athlete identity were associated with lower depression scores. Athlete identity was also associated with lower odds of a past-year suicide attempt, whereas jock identity was associated with elevated odds of a suicide attempt. The findings are discussed in light of the relationship between mental well-being and a larger constellation of health-risk behaviors linked to a “toxic jock” identity.

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Koenraad J. Lindner

School children and youth from Primary Grade 5 to Secondary Grade 7 (average age range, 9 to 18 years) in Hong Kong completed a sports participation questionnaire and rated their own academic performance (AP). Results of ANOVAs indicated that frequency and extent of participation tended to be significantly higher for students with high self-ratings than for students with less satisfactory self-reported performance, and that this trend was significantly stronger in females than males and present in all age groups. The correlations between participation and AP were generally significant but low. These results indicate that those who perceive themselves to be the better achievers in academic subjects are as a group the more frequent participants, with stronger motives for involvement in sport and physical activity. A prevalent fear among parents and teachers in Hong Kong, that regular sport participation could threaten academic achievement, appears unfounded.

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Kathleen E. Miller, Merrill J. Melnick, Grace M. Barnes, Michael P. Farrell and Don Sabo

Although previous research has established that high school sports participation might be associated with positive academic outcomes, the parameters of the relationship remain unclear. Using a longitudinal sample of nearly 600 western New York adolescents, this study examined gender- and race-specific differences on the impact of two dimensions of adolescent athletic involvement (“jock” identity and athlete status) on changes in school grades and school misconduct over a 2-year interval. Female and Black adolescents who identified themselves as jocks reported lower grades than did those who did not, whereas female athletes reported higher grades than female nonathletes. Jocks also reported significantly more misconduct (including skipping school, cutting classes, having someone from home called to the school for disciplinary purposes, and being sent to the principal’s office) than did nonjocks. Gender moderated the relationship between athlete status and school misconduct; athletic participation had a less salutary effect on misconduct for girls than for boys.

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Donald Sabo, Merrill J. Melnick and Beth E. Vanfossen

This study examines the impact of race and gender differences on the social mobility of high school athletes using the longitudinal, panel data of the High School and Beyond study. Regressions of educational and occupational attainment measures on sports participation were estimated for subgroups differentiated by race/ethnic status, gender, and school location (urban, suburban, and rural). It was found that participation in high school sports was most likely to affect the postsecondary status attainment of white males and, to a lesser extent, suburban white females and rural Hispanic females. High school athletic participation had almost no effect on the college-going behavior or educational expectations of black males and females. Interscholastic athletic participation was generally unrelated to postsecondary occupational status and aspirations.

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Linda M. Petlichkoff

In 1990 the Athletic Footwear Association (AFA) (1) released a report entitled “American Youth and Sports Participation” that examined teenagers’ (ages 10-18 years) feelings about their sport involvement. This report was the culmination of an extensive study of more than 10,000 young people from 11 cities across the U.S. in which issues related to why teenagers participate, why they quit, and their feelings about winning were addressed.1 The results highlighted in the AFA report indicate that (a) participation in organized sports declines sharply as youngsters get older, (b) “fun” is the key reason for involvement and “lack of fun” is one of the primary reasons for discontinuing, (c) winning plays less of a role than most adults would think, and (d) not all athletes have the same motivations for their involvement.