Exploring sport scholars' navigation of their own children's sport participation


Our recent work (e.g., Larson et al., 2020) suggests a disconnect between research, policy, and practice when it comes to the structure of youth sport and the promotion of long-term athlete development. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of reputed sport scholars with their own children's involvement in organized, competitive sport, primarily with respect to the perceived impacts of the amount of time invested in one or multiple sports. We engaged in expert sampling within Canada and the United States and recruited 10 participants, each of whom held a PhD in sport, kinesiology, physical education, or coaching, and had one or more children between the ages of 8-15 years involved in organized, competitive sport. Data were generated through semi-structured interviews via Zoom. Example questions included, "What factors do you consider when making decisions about your children's sport and activity schedule?" and "How have your feelings about what constitutes an ideal pattern of sport participation changed over time?" Qualitative content analysis (Elo & Kyngäs, 2008) of the transcripts revealed three themes: 1) general feelings about their children's sport schedules, 2) clarifying effects of COVID, and 3) multisport recommendations and reality. Participants acknowledged significant challenges associated with having children involved in more than one organized, competitive sport. As sport scholars, our participants interpreted their experiences with youth sport through the lens of research and evidence on best practices and identified areas for improvement within the current youth sport system, at the levels of policy, clubs, and coaching.