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Adolescent Sports Participation and Parent Perceptions of Resilience: A Comparative Study

Paul Caldarella, Jason E. Johnson, Ross A. A. Larsen, Melissa A. Heath, Jared S. Warren


Adolescents encounter a variety of challenges and risk factors that can result in adversity or unsafe behaviors often associated with mental health problems. However, the attribute of resilience can potentially buffer the effects of such risk factors. Sports participation, a form of activity available to a large number of adolescents through school and community programs, may foster resilience. This study compared the resilience levels of adolescents who participated in sports (n = 214) with the resilience levels of peers not participating in sports (n = 62), as reported by parents. Structural equation modeling was used to answer the research questions. Adolescents who participated in youth sports had significantly higher levels of parent-reported resilience (self-regulation/responsibility, social competence, and empathy) than adolescents who did not participate. High school sports predicted higher self-regulation/responsibility, while sports sponsored by recreation facilities predicted greater empathy and social competence. Finally, results demonstrated a positive relationship between the number of sports played and increased resilience scores. Implications and limitations of this study are included.

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adolescents; athletics; sports; resilience

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