Factors Related to Sense of Community in Youth Sport Parents
Keywords:youth sports, parents, sense of community
AbstractParents play an essential role in the youth sportexperience, performing necessary roles such as registering their children,paying registration fees, ensuring that their children get to and from games andpractices, and often playing a vital volunteer role in the organization. Despitethese crucial functions, research has paid little attention to the experience ofthe parent and the portneial benefits that a parent may accrue as a result of hisor her involvement with the program. As parents often spend a large amount oftime involved with their children's youth sport experiences and often interactwith other parents in those experiences, the development of a feeling of senseof community among the parents is one possible and important componentof those experiences. Research has suggested that sense of community isassociated with numerous positive outcomes. Although sense of community hasin numerous settings, it has not specifically been studied in youthsport with parents. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to better understandfactors 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 developa greater sense of community. Specifically, parental level of involvement and ô€€ƒperceived choice were significant predictors of sense of community (ô€€ƒô€€‹p<.05), andthe association between identification and sense of community was moderated by the number of years the youth was on a particular team (ô€€ƒô€€‹p<.05). Several practicalimplications can be drawn from these results including suggestions for how toinvolve parents in the program and to increase the parents' perceived choice.Sport teams who implement incentives and recognition for volunteering, andpromote the positive experience of the parent in the youth sport program, willlikely facilitate an enhanced sense of community. This study makes an importantfirst 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 sportexperience as well as the effectiveness of programming interventions designedto improve sense of community among parents.
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