This study tested a model that specifies that the psychosocial impact of women’s precollege sports participation depends on the quality of their sports experience, that is, on participants’ enjoyment of sports and the benefits derived from athletic pursuits. A sample of 245 college women (mean age = 19.9 years) provided retrospective reports of their precollege sports involvement as well as assessments of their enjoyment of sports, perceived physical competence, body image, gender role orientation, and self-esteem. Consistent with past research, women students’ precollege sport participation was a modest predictor of their self-esteem in bivariate analyses. Follow-up analyses revealed that enjoyment of sports mediated the sports participation/self-esteem relationship and implied that female participants who find sports less enjoyable may be at risk of experiencing declining self-esteem. However, enjoyment of sports explained little unique variance in global self-esteem after we controlled for the influence of other sports-related benefits (e.g., improved physical competence). Implications for those who hope to help more girls reap psychosocial benefits from sporting activities are discussed.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 16, 2006
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