Parental Involvement in Youth Sports - An Essay Example

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George Washington University
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The article Young peoples experiences of parental involvement in youth Sport by Strandbu et al. seeks to explore how adolescents negotiate and understand their involvement of parents in sport and consequently figure out how they define ideal and undesirable forms of parental involvement. The research problem being evaluated is the extent to which parental involvement in youth sports influence adolescents development of their autonomy and identity.

As evident from the abstract of this article, it is apparent that the issue is complicated. Contrary to the widely-held belief by most parents that adolescents do not play any role in determining parental involvement in youth sports, the authors demonstrated that most youths find it undesirable for parents to regulate their peer sociability and athletic aspects during sports. However, the youths interviewed approved their parents influence and support when they discuss sport as a healthy activity important for their social and physical development.

In the introduction section, the authors gave in great detail comparison of parental involvement in youth sports in recent decades with that witnessed in Colemans classic Adolescent society (Strandbu et al. 3). The current society has intensified parental involvement in adolescent sports, and as depicted in the article most parents are highly supportive. This increased interest shows a cultural shift in the recent decades that lean towards involved parenthood. Parents are described as more responsible for all aspects of child development and what seemed to be a reserve of middle-class practice has now spread as a cultural ideal.

Although parents now sought to have a reciprocal relationship and emotional closeness with their children, an aspect fully supported by the authors, the major concern, however, is the impact this kind of intense parenting would have when it shifts into the sphere of youth sports. According to the authors, this shift could easily become a phase of prolonged socialization instead of being used as an avenue for adolescents to develop their identity and autonomy. This is a hypothesis the researchers sought to unravel by interviewing and collecting data from sixteen focus groups of adolescents 13 to 14 years of age. The empirical setting for this study is Norway and all the participants enrolled to take part came from two lower secondary schools.

The Norwegian youth sports are carried out mainly outside schools. It is incorporated as part of the civil sector which is relatively affordable and accessible to all youths. The sports model used in Norway involves a partnership between the civil society and the state where clubs are responsible for all sports activities. According to the researchers, most of these clubs employ parents as coaches and ground grew. Since these sports are carried out on a weekly basis, means that parental involvement in youth sports is quite high.

In their findings, the researchers discovered that most middle-class parents usually engaged more closely in their kids sporting activities to the point where it was not easy to differentiate whether the sport was the project of the child or it was the project of the parents. The authors pointed out that those parents in such families deeply monitor teens athletic development and provide extensive emotional support. Researchers are wary that parents with these patterns of parental involvement may easily prevent adolescents from nurturing autonomy and personal identities.

This article has identified sport as a major component required to enhance a cultivational approach to parenting which is supported by general sociological studies. Most of these studies show that sports play an essential role in overall parenting project. Through sports, parents can constantly identify the available opportunities to elevate their social and cultural capabilities on behalf of their children. Drawing from different literature materials from diverse studies, the authors have underscored the significance of parental involvement in youth sports as the best investment to develop competencies and skills among young children.

Although this is the position of most experts on the impact of sports on overall parenting, this position, on the other hand, is seen by the authors as extreme and it may negatively affect adolescents autonomy. The ultimate goal of parenting is to cultivate a healthy socialization framework that helps children become responsible and develop a sense of autonomy while maintaining appropriate bonding with their parents.

Authors have attempted to explain using biographical narratives the ideal role of parenting which in essence involves nurturing children to know and find their identities. This aspect of independence is comprised of at least three dimensions as discussed by the authors: the first dimension is the ability of adolescents to act responsibly; the second dimension represents a sense of agency and competence, and the third dimension involves a sense of individuality and increased self-confidence. In their description, the authors explained candidly and explicitly how autonomy is linked to a given cultural construction of a child as an individual capable of making their own decisions even when they go contrary to what their parents wish them to do.

The researchers successfully illustrated the ideal concept of autonomy expected of teens to establish and navigate well social relationships without involving their family. Through the interviews done about the involvement of the parent in youth sports, the authors developed strong evidence which helped reconstruct what is ideal and undesirable when parents overly participate in youth sports.

The researchers used three broad themes to explore adolescents perspectives about parental involvement in their sporting activities. First the researchers sought to understand the reasons why parents preferred to support the participation of their teens in sports; secondly the researchers collected adolescents views about how parents encourage and regulate their participation in sports; lastly, the authors collected the adolescents views on parental involvement and presence at sporting events.

By putting together these views, the authors proved that their position sharply differed with the description of sports participation advanced by Coleman. In their findings, Strandbu et al saw a general identification with the parental perspective which emphasized the importance of sports participation for adolescents. Their findings were reliable since the focus groups freely shared non-controversial positions that made it possible to access shared opinions.

However, the interviews of participants enrolled for this study cannot be altogether relied upon, because such views may be based on deeper layers of personal experiences. For instance, it may portray the parents to be behaving in manners that are contrary to the accepted norms for parental involvement. Besides, questions abound as to whether participants whose parents were not involved or were less involved may have influenced them to speak less during the interviews. These are the possible limitations that may have affected the analysis of this data.

In this analysis, the authors reveal that majority of adolescents preferred their parents to be involved, and if need be they would like to attend their sporting activities. Similarly, the adolescents showed a strong intent to be given space to set limits and define how their parents were to take part in their participation in sports. For instance, most participants expressed their displeasure of how under some instances parents interfered in their social relations with teammates.

As discussed by discussed by the authors:

The participants stressed the importance of separating bonding with parents from interacting socially with peers in the sporting arena. This distinction was also the case for those who were deeply appreciative and partly dependent on parental support. Very intensive involvement from parents was, however, sometimes a source of mixed feelings, mainly related to the desire to escape the parental gaze. Participants who had parents as coaches exemplified this dilemma. They explained that although having a parent as a coach could strengthen family relations and benefit their sporting skills, it could also make it more difficult to feel free,' get away and express oneself socially. (Strandbu et al. 11)

This description arguably sums up the researchers' point of concern which is the main research problem in this article. It demonstrates the different aspects of autonomy which parents must put into consideration as they take part in youth sporting activities.


Essentially, this article is not complex to follow and understand the different patterns of thoughts advanced by the authors. However, readers are required to read up to the third page to grasp fully what the article strives to discuss. In the end, the readers would understand the authors analysis of how parental involvement in youth sports may affect adolescents' independence and development of their identities negatively.


Works Cited

Strandbu Ase, Kari Stefansen, Ingrid Smette, and Morten R. Sandvik. "Young Peoples Experiences of Parental Involvement in Youth Sport." Sport, Education and Society. (2017): 1-12.

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