Why Sport? An Examination of Youth Sport Program Consumption Behaviours in Canadian Ice Hockey Parents
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Participation in youth sport programming has been shown to influence many outcomes associated with positive development in children and young adult populations. Despite this, the waning accessibility of youth sport programs through more expensive and time-intensive activities has made participation increasingly difficult for many children and their families. While many young athletes undoubtedly make important choices when it comes to facilitating their involvement within youth sport, parents could be seen as ultimately responsible for the final selection of youth sport program type and intensity due to their role as primary caregivers and financers. Although previous work has explored the ways in which the parents of young athletes behave within the youth sport context as well as how these behaviours may influence their children’s sport participation in various ways, little research appears to examine how sport parents make decisions about the types of sport activities in which their children participate. As such, the present study sought to conduct 15 semi-structured interviews with the parents of children participating in recreational, competitive, as well as a high-performance minor ice hockey programs in Canada with the intention of examining what factors might influence their youth sport program choices and what the decision-making processes behind these choices might look like. It was found that parents encouraged their children to participate in ice hockey programs as they saw the activity as a positive means to foster athletic as well as non-athletic development, to make friends, and because it was something that their children enjoyed. Parents also recognized that, within the Canadian context, ice hockey held specific benefits for their young athletes due to the sport’s popularity when compared to other extra-curricular activities. Despite these benefits however, parents also discussed barriers to participation highlighting the social climate within organizations, excessive travel, and high cost as factors in their unwillingness to remain involved in particular sport organizations. This thesis discusses the practical and theoretical implications of these findings within the context of the extant sport parent and sport psychology literature, potential study limitations, and future directions in the continued exploration of this area.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/27531
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