AbstractMotives for sport participation and adherence often involve friendships and affiliation (e.g., Ewing & Seedelft, 1996), and the quality of these relations is associated with enriched sport experiences (e.g., Weiss & Smith, 2002). Cohesion is a construct that is closely related to friendship, and has received recent attention in children's sport (e.g., Donkers et al., 2015). Whereas cohesion has often been used as a representation of friendship and togetherness, an important prerequisite to the benefits derived from a cohesive team may actually be quality relationships. As such, the current project sought to determine whether perceptions of cohesion mediated the relationship between friendship quality and enjoyment and intentions to return in a child sport setting. A prospective observational design was employed, whereby 92 children (Mage = 9.39 years; SD = 0.57) participating in a recreational minor hockey league completed questionnaires at two time points (T1â€“ friendship quality, T2â€“ cohesion, enjoyment, intention to return) during their athletic season. Overall, the R2 values for the combined effects ranged from 14% (intentions to return) to 32% (enjoyment), and with regard to the indirect effects, social cohesion mediated the relationship between friendship quality and enjoyment (b = 0.11, p = .05), whereas task cohesion mediated relationships with both enjoyment (b = 0.18, p = .004) and intentions to return (b = 0.20, p = .03). These findings suggest that a cohesive environment could facilitate important affective responses or motives for continuation in child sport participants that are derived from team member relations.
Acknowledgments: Funding provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)