Higher Levels of Income and Education are Associated with More Specialized Sport Participation Behaviors: Results from a Representative Sample of Youth Sport Parents from the United States.
Post EG, Rivera MJ, Doss D, Eberman LE.
Background: While previous studies have examined the impact of family socioeconomic characteristics on a child’s sport specialization behaviors, this research has been limited to affluent communities with limited sociodemographic diversity.
Hypothesis/Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine associations of parent income and education with child sport specialization behaviors among a nationally representative sample of youth sport parents in the United States.
Study Design: Cross-sectional.
Methods: Parents of youth athletes in the United States (n=236, age: 39.2±8.1 years, 57.2% female) were recruited to complete an online questionnaire by Qualtrics Online Samples (Qualtrics, Provo, UT) using a combination of actively managed, double-opt-in market research panels. The questionnaire used for this study consisted of: 1) parent demographics (including parent age, race/ethnicity, biological sex, gender identity, household income, and educational status), and 2) child sport participation characteristics and sport specialization behaviors.
Results: Parents who reported an annual household income of $75,001 or more were more likely than parents making less than $75,000 to report that their child participated on an organized club team (OR [95%CI]: 1.94 [1.15-3.27]), participated on multiple organized teams at the same time (OR [95%CI]: 1.85 [1.10-3.11]), or specialized in a single sport (OR [95%CI]: 2.45 [1.45-4.14]). Parents who reported receiving a Bachelor’s degree or higher were more likely than parents who did not to report that their child participated on an organized club team (OR [95%CI]: 3.04 [1.78-5.18]), participated on multiple organized teams at the same time (OR [95%CI]: 2.42 [1.43-4.10]), or specialized in a single sport (OR [95%CI]: 1.94 [1.15-3.26]).
Conclusions: These results suggest that in the modern youth sport culture, family resources may serve as a major determining factor in the type of experiences available for a youth athlete.
Level of Evidence: III