Place of Development and Dropout in Youth Ice Hockey
Hancock, David J.
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Research demonstrates that smaller cities in North America are associated with higher rates of elite talent development in sport compared to larger cities [Côté, J., MacDonald, D. J., Baker, J., & Abernethy, B. (2006). When “where” is more important than “when”: Birthplace and birthdate effects on the achievement of sporting expertise. Journal of Sports Sciences, 10, 1065–1073], but little is known about how the environment of different city sizes affects sport participation and dropout. We analysed participation rates and city sizes of 15,565 Canadian youth ice hockey players between 2004 and 2010. Overall, participation counts were negatively correlated with city size, meaning players from larger cities were more likely to drop out, while players from smaller cities were more likely to remain engaged. More specifically, players from cities with populations greater than 500,000 were 2.88 times more likely to end up as dropout than engaged athletes compared to other city sizes. These findings suggest that sport programmes in smaller cities are more conducive towards promoting prolonged participation in sport. In the discussion, we offer possible explanations for this trend.