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Factors Related to Sense of Community in Youth Sport Parents

Eric Legg, Mary Sara Wells, John P. Barile

Abstract


Parents play an essential role in the youth sport

experience, performing necessary roles such as registering their children,

paying registration fees, ensuring that their children get to and from games and

practices, and often playing a vital volunteer role in the organization. Despite

these crucial functions, research has paid little attention to the experience of

the parent and the portneial benefits that a parent may accrue as a result of his

or her involvement with the program. As parents often spend a large amount of

time involved with their children's youth sport experiences and often interact

with other parents in those experiences, the development of a feeling of sense

of community among the parents is one possible and important component

of those experiences. Research has suggested that sense of community is

associated with numerous positive outcomes. Although sense of community has

in numerous settings, it has not specifically been studied in youth

sport with parents. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to better understand

factors that predict a higher sense of community among youth sport parents.

Participants were recruited from three different youth sport programs: soccer,

tackle football, and flag football. Researchers collected data from 122 parents of 

youth sport participants regarding their level of involvement, perceived choice,

identification with the program, and sense of community. Results from this study 

suggest that parents of youth who participated on a sports team often develop

a greater sense of community. Specifically, parental level of involvement and 􀀃

perceived choice were significant predictors of sense of community (􀀃􀀋p<.05), and

the association between identification and sense of community was moderated by the number of years the youth was on a particular team (􀀃􀀋p<.05). Several practical

implications can be drawn from these results including suggestions for how to

involve parents in the program and to increase the parents' perceived choice.

Sport teams who implement incentives and recognition for volunteering, and

promote the positive experience of the parent in the youth sport program, will

likely facilitate an enhanced sense of community. This study makes an important

first step in exploring this aspect of the parental experience. Future research may 

wish to explore the impact of parental sense of community on the youth sport

experience as well as the effectiveness of programming interventions designed

to improve sense of community among parents.


Keywords


youth sports; parents; sense of community

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