The influence of sport competition level on positive youth development outcomes


Organized sport is the most popular extracurricular activity in which Positive Youth Development (PYD) is researched (Holt, 2016). However, it has been noted that not all sport experiences are the same, and may influence PYD outcomes differently (Broh, 2002). One specific factor that could uniquely impact PYD outcomes within sport is different competition levels (Jones et al., 2011). The current study investigated the potential difference in PYD outcomes derived by three different competitive streams: community, competitive, and instructional. A sample of 82 youth sport participants (Mage = 15.0) who identified themselves as either primarily competitive (n = 35), community (n =35) or instructional (n = 12) sport athletes completed the short version of the Youth Experiences Survey for Sports (YES-S; Sullivan et al., 2013). The YES-S measures five interrelated outcomes of youth sport, four positive (Personal and Social Skills; Cognitive Skills, Goal Setting and Initiative) and one negative (Negative Experiences). Analysis of Variance showed that there was a significant difference between the groups in three different sub-scales: Cognitive Skills [F(2, 79) = 3.64, p < 0.05], Goal Setting [F(2, 79) = 3.81, p < 0.05] and Initiative [F(2, 79) = 3.37, p < 0.05]. Post-hoc Games-Howell analysis revealed that competitive athletes scored significantly higher than community athletes on both Cognitive Skills and Goal Setting whereas instructional athletes were significantly higher than community athletes on Initiative. These results suggest that although previous research has indicated that sport can contribute to PYD, varying sporting contexts may contribute differently to these outcomes.

Acknowledgments: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council