Towards Sustaining Youth Sport Participation: Stakeholders’ Conceptualization and Quantification of the Determinants of Fun

Amanda Visek, The George Washington University, USA

Theme: Youth sport

Program ID: LEC-14C

Presentation: October 5, 2013 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Room: Elmwood


Organized youth sport programs provide an avenue for children to meet nationally recommended guidelines for physical activity (CDC, 2003). This is important because there is a greater reliance on leisure-time after-school physical activity to provide a more vital role in the health promotion of children and adolescents. However, it is estimated that 70% of participants drop out by the age of 13 and as many as 1/3 drop out annually (Eitzen & Sage, 2009). Behavioral economics posits that physical activities framed as fun, choice-driven, and rewarding are most likely to be sustained versus those of perceived drudgery and duty (Zimmerman, 2009). This is significant because lack of fun is continually cited as the primary reason for withdrawal from youth sport. There lacks a well-developed conceptual model that provides a “big picture” overview of the determinants of fun and how these translate into a robust, multidimensional conceptualization of today’s “fun” youth sport experience. Therefore, we used concept mapping, an innovative, mixed-method research design to engage youth sport players (n = 142), coaches (n = 37), and parents (n = 57) in the development of a conceptual framework of fun in youth sport. Participants were stratified by age, sex, and competitive level and contributed their ideas through: (a) qualitative brainstorming, identifying all of the things that make playing sports fun for players; (b) sorting of ideas; and (c) rating each idea on its importance, frequency, and feasibility. Content analysis identified 81 determinants of fun; and, similarity matrices, multidimensional scaling, and hierarchical cluster analysis with a two-dimensional solution produced an 11-cluster concept map spatially representing youth sport stakeholders’ collective perception of fun in sport. The concept map is discussed relative to promoting and engaging children and adolescents, their families, and sport communities in healthy and active lifestyles through fun, organized youth sport experiences.

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