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Sport Participation and Self Esteem Sport Participation and Self Esteem Introduction Topic: Relation between sports participation and self-esteem level in adolescence Issue: Sedentary lifestyle damages the self-esteem of teenagers. Thesis: Sports participation improves the self-perception and well-being of adolescents, developing their levels of self-esteem. Effect of sports training on the well-being of adolescents. Impact of physical activity on self-perception Physiological effects and self-esteem Psychological and social factors and self-esteem Psychological effects of sport on the level of self-esteem. Positive self-concept Social perception and sport Sport enjoyment and self-esteem Relationship between weight and sport Effect of sport as a protective factor during adolescence. Sport and happiness Healthy behaviors Sport and peer acceptance Adolescence and sports participation. Sport and gender Male Female Influence of sports participation and identity Conclusion: Adolescence is one of the most sensitive stages in human development because identity and self-esteem are consolidated. Sports participation has a positive relationship with self-esteem because it strengthens individual and social self-perception, improving self-esteem levels.
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Haroona Qurban 1,2 &Jin Wang 1&Hassan Siddique 3&Tony Morris 4&Zhi Qiao 1 Published online: 12 October 2018 Abstract The purpose of this study was to examine Chinese students’motivation for sports participation using the theory of social learning. We examined the role of parental support as a mediator of the relationship between motivation, self-esteem, and sports partic- ipation. We operationalized parental support as tangible and intangible support provided by parents. We hypothesized that motivation and self-esteem would be positively associated with tangible and intangible parental support, and parental support would mediate the relationship between self-esteem, motivation, and sports participation. We administered questionnaires to 255 students (male = 71; mean age = 17.4, SD=1.15;female=184;meanage=17.1, SD= 1.18) and either of their parents. We tested our hypothesized model using structural equation modeling (SEM), which included testing a measurement model that specified five latent variables and then compared the estimates generated by our hypothesized model with our data. We found our hypothesized model fit the data well. As predicted, there were significant indirect effects of self-esteem and motivation on sports participation through parental support, indicating evidence of mediation. The researchers suggest that parental support for adolescents should be integrated and utilized for future interventions to promote sports participation in the cultural context of China. Future studies with longitudinal follow-ups are suggested to explore actual causal relationships. Keywords Parental support . Self-esteem . Motivation . Sports participation Participation in sport is important for health and wellbeing in childhood and adolescence, but it is declining in China (Lu et al. 2017). In China, parents ’perception and attitude towards their children ’s health and sports participation have certain limitations. Most Chinese parents know the significance of physical activity (Liu et al. 2016), but research indicates that they concentrate on promoting strong academic performance among their children, leading to good jobs in the future (Tudor-Locke et al. 2003). As a result, Chinese parents may be more likely not to encourage sports participation for their children (Fan et al. 2017). Sports participation has declined among Chinese adoles- cents in recent times. Liu et al. ( 2016) reported that more than 80% of young people in Shanghai, China are physically inac- tive. The percentage of young people aged from 6 to 18 years participating in organized sports/programs was only 14.9%. For girls, the percentage was only 12%, which is lower than for boys (17%). ^In 2015, the national PA survey report by the General Administration of Sport of China revealed that 33.2% of sampled Chinese children and adolescents aged 6 –19 years were physically active participating in sports (General Administration of Sport of China 2015), which is compara- tively larger proportion as compared with the 2016 survey report indicating a decline. In 2006, the Ministry of Education, the General Administration of Sport in China, and the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Youth League carried out the BSunshine Physical Exercise Project ^to promote at least 60 min of physical exercise, Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article ( https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-018-0016-3 ) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users. * Jin Wang [email protected] 1 College of Education, Zhejiang University, Room 207, West Teaching Building II, 148 Tian Mu Shan Road, Xi Xi Campus, Hangzhou, China 2 Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST), Mirpur, AJK 10250, Pakistan 3 University of Science and Technology, Hefei, China 4 School of Exercise and Sport Science, Victoria University, PO Box 14428, Melbourne, VIC 8001, Australia Current Psychology (2019) 38:308–319 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-018-0016-3 The mediating role of parental support: The relation between sports participation, self-esteem, and motivation for sports among chinese students # Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018 school wide, for every school-aged child. In addition, the Physical Education Curriculum for Chinese Basic Education has been reformed 4 times in the past 2 decades in an effort to enhance students’physical fitness and health through PA and Sports participation. However, evidence from recent surveys (Liu et al. 2016; General Administration of Sport of China 2015) indicate that these policies and reforms have not brought about significant positive changes in the overall sports participation and PA levels of young people in China ^. Two major reasons for the lack of sports participation in Chinese students are that students have to study outside school, so they do not have enough time for sports participa- tion, and that students have many competing interests, includ- ing watching TV and videos, playing computer games, and reading instead of going out to participate in sports (Bauman et al. 2008;Songetal. 2013). This suggests that sports partic- ipation may not be considered a high priority by many parents in China, as well as their children. There appears to be a serious lack of awareness of the importance of sports partici- pation among Chinese parents (Lu et al. 2017). Physical edu- cation, as an important part of all education (Ma 2010), is not only the responsibility of the school, but also the responsibility of family. Parents play an important role in shaping the way their children think and act. It is parents who decide whether to encourage the development of habits of studying and partici- pating in sports. Previous research demonstrates that parental influence on children (6 –11 years) and/or adolescents (12 –18 years) can be important for different types of sports participation through parents ’direct involvement and through their being active role models, such as providing transport to sport events and en- couragement to participate (Pugliese and Tinsley 2007).But there are no studies we are aware of that test the role of paren- tal support in this relationship in Chinese students and their parents. We consider that a cultural difference may exist be- tween Western and Eastern countries in terms of how parents value children ’s participation in sports, so that the Western theory may not fit the Chinese situation. For example, Confucianism is the core of the Chinese value system. This doctrine is concerned with ful filling social obligations, conforming to the norms, respecting parents and achieving family reputation through individual achievement (King and Bond 1985). This principle provides a basis for Chinese par- enting that determines the parent-child interaction. Parents who strongly adhere to Chinese values are likely to maintain a distance when interacting with their children and this is conveyed in an authoritarian parenting style (Xu et al. 2005 ). On the other hand, Chao ( 1994,1995 ) has discussed how Chinese parents ’child rearing responsibilities are ful- filled in the process of Bguan ^, which means to Bgovern ^as well as to Blove ^. These two are the characteristics of author- itative parenting style. Thus, authoritative and authoritarian parenting styles are part of the Chinese value system and expressed in varying degrees, depending on each family ’s particular circumstances. Level of education has been associ- ated with variations in authoritative and authoritarian parenting styles. For example, in a Chinese parenting styles study, Chen et al. ( 2000) found that parents ’level of education was positively associated with their authoritative parenting style, and negatively associated with an authoritarian parent- in g style. Perceived parenting distress may also play a signif- icant role in this context. Previous studies have found that parents with high levels of parenting distress expressed more negative emotions, such as worry and anxiety, when interacting with their children (Dix 1991; McLoyd 1990). Another important factor is parents ’perceived sources of so- cial support. Social support from family members and friends, may provide assistance for dealing with the stress associated with daily parenting, and may promote a less power-assertive parenting style (Roggman et al. 1994). The factors that affect sports participation are complex, including intra-personal, inter-personal, organizational, com- munity, and environmental variables, as depicted in the social- Ecological model of participation in sport and physical activ- ity (McNeill et al. 2006). Researchers suggest that self-esteem and motivation are two key intra-personal variables that affect sport participation (Slutzky and Simpkins 2009), but they are affected by variables at other levels of the social-ecological model, of which a key interpersonal variable is parental sup- port (direct and indirect). Thus, in this study, we aim to exam- ine two sets of elements that have been consistently shown to predict students ’sports participation behavior, specifically, to test the role of parental support for adolescents as a mediating variable between self-esteem, motivation, and sport participa- tion with a Chinese sample. Relationship Between Self-Esteem and Sports Participation Individuals ’sports participation is associated with their self- esteem. For example, Sport participants ’perceived physical competence and physical self-worth predicted heightened self-esteem (Bowker 2006). Physical self-worth can be de- fined as general feelings of happiness, satisfaction, pride, re- spect, and confidence in the physical-self (Fox 1998). Time spent in sport activities provides participants opportunities to build sport competencies and, in turn, their self-concept of their abilities (Fox 2000; Sonstroem 1997)^ .Theory suggests that time in sports is associated with participants self-esteem through their sports self-concept or perceived sports ability (Fox 2000). In addition, children with higher sport self- concepts also have higher self-esteem than children with low- er sport self-concepts (Harter 2006). Although there appears to be a relationship between sports participation and general self-esteem, it is less clear. Some Curr Psychol (2019) 38:308 –319 309 studies (Taylor1995) have shown that individuals who partic- ipate in sports have higher self-esteem than non-participants (Simpkins et al. 2006). However, other researchers (e.g., Marsh & Jackson 1986) have reported a weak link between sports participation and self-esteem or even a negative rela- tionship. (Richman & Shaffer 2000). Gibbons et al. ( 1997) argued that Bthere is little and conflicting evidence that partic- ipation in sports or even that winning at sports directly leads to increases in self-esteem ^(p. 56). Relationship Between Motivation and Sports Participation Motivation is a driving force that gives direction to individ- uals ’activities, including sports (Ghaderi and Ghaderi 2012). Va l l e r a n d ( 2001) proposed that motivation and its antecedents (social factors), mediators (basic needs), and consequences (affective, behavioral, and cognitive responses) operate at three levels of generality, namely situational (or state), contex- tual (or life domain), and global (or personality). In this study we focused on contextual level motivation, which means mo- tivation towards a particular context (e.g., sport).One key fac- tor that can determine participation in sports is motivation. Several researchers (e.g., Wang et al. 2009) have studied mo- tivation in sport from the Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci and Ryan 1985) perspective. SDT is a theory that is concerned with supporting people ’s natural or intrinsic ten- dencies to behave in effective and healthy ways. SDT pro- poses that all individuals are motivated to satisfy three basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and related- ness), which directs them to participate in certain activities. Individuals ’motivational regulation can range from intrinsic motivation to amotivation. Previous work in sports contexts has often shown intrinsic motivation and identified regulation (Identified regulation involves conscious acceptance of the behavior as being important in order to achieve personally valued outcomes) to predict positive behavioral, cognitive, and affective outcomes (Ryan et al. 2009). In contrast, more extrinsic forms of motivation i.e., external and introjected reg- ulations (Introjected regulation involves the internalization of external controls, which are then applied through self-imposed pressure in order to maintain self-esteem) have been shown to be positively related to less desirable outcomes, such as bore- dom and burnout (Li et al. 2013). There are numerous social factors in sports participation that can play an important role in determining student motivation (Bhalla and Weiss 2010). Many studies have shown that more self-determined motiva- tion (intrinsic and identified regulations) predicts greater sports participation (Boiché et al. 2008; Ghaderi and Ghaderi 2012;Wangetal. 2011). This is because self-determined motivation promotes satisfaction of the three basic psychological needs, according to SDT (Ryan and Deci 2017). In more recent investigations, researchers have analysed the relationship between different motivational pro- files and sport (Boiché et al. 2008). Results showed that indi- viduals with more self-determined profiles (with high scoring on intrinsic motivation and self-determined extrinsic motiva- tion) reported more sports participation than those with a me- dium or non-self-determined profile. Globalization has demanded a need for increasing aware- ness of the differences and sim ilarities across cultures. Although much research has been done in western countries examining factors that influence students ’motivation, self-es- teem, and sports participation, not many similar studies have been carried out in other countries. Much of the existing liter- ature, mainly from studies conducted in Western countries, indicates that parents are important role models for children ’s sports participation (Edwardson and Gorely 2010; Trost and Loprinzi 2011). More active parents are likely to have more active children. Moore et al. ( 1991) found that children of two active parents were 5.8 times more likely to be active than children of two inactive parents. The World Health Organization has identified sport participation as important to the health and development of children, including preven- tion and maintenance of healthy weight (WHO 2010). There is confirmation that children with physically active parents got more social support from their parents (Edwardson and Gorely 2010). Social support is positively linked with physical activity (Pugliese and Tinsley 2007). Parents may influence their children ’s participation in sports and physical activities by providing different types of social support (Beets et al. 2006;RyanandDeci 2017). Positive associations of a medium effect size (Adkins et al. 2004; Sallis et al. 1999)have been consistently reported between parental support and leisure-time sports and physical activity through the provision of both direct, tangible support (e.g., providing transport, en- rolling children in sports clubs, watching children take part), and intangible support (e.g., through verbal encouragement, and attitudes towards physical activity) (Edwardson and Gorely 2010). Recent systematic reviews also suggest that the involvement of family may lead to greater efficacy of school-based interventions (strategies designed to promote students physical activity/spo rts participation at school) (Vasques et al. 2014), suggesting that parents ’influence reaches beyond the home environment, so it may be necessary to consider them wherever interventions are based. All the studies mentioned here related to parental support and sports participation were conducted with samples in Western cul- tures. However, in the current study, specifically, we aimed to determine whether parental support mediates the effects of students ’motivation and self-esteem on sports participation in China, which is an Eastern culture in which values, beliefs, and consequently behavior, are quite different. The idea that sport participation is related to motivation and self-esteem has long been studied (Kondri čet al. 2013; 310 Curr Psychol (2019) 38:308–319 Slutzky and Simpkins2009), but in the current study we ex- amined the role of parental support as a mediator of that rela- tionship (Welk et al. 2003), based on a Chinese student sam- ple. Parental support has been shown to affect sport participa- tion in Western research (Beets et al. 2010; Edwardson and Gorely 2010; Ryan and Deci 2017). Parental support refers to parental support of adolescents in sports participation. Before this study, research was conducted on children who live with their parents (Biddle and Goudas 1996). We focused on uni- versity students who are living in hostels away from their parents. In China, this is a substantial proportion of the late adolescent population. Many adolescents aged 16 –18 years are starting a new phase of life that involves living away from their parents in communal university accommodation. We suspected that these students are not well adapted to the new environment, so they need their parental support during this new phase of their lives. Earlier studies were conducted on children, whereas the role of parental support for adolescents is also of great worth. As there are very few studies conducted on adolescents and their parental support, so the findings are not very clear. There is a need to conduct research with adolescents. The present study, conducted in the cultural context of China, examined factors that have been shown to be important in Western students, namely motivation, self-esteem, and sports participation. Most research compares the effects of these different influences either individually or in parallel, rarely considering how these factors may interact. A key dis- tinction in the present study was the examination of the pos- sible mediating role of tangible and intangible parental sup- port. Tangible support can be instrumental or conditional. Instrumental supports include purchasing or payment of fees and transportation, whereas conditional support includes role modelling, watching and supervision during sports participa- tion. Intangible support can be motivational or informational. Motivational support includes encouragement and praise, whereas informational support includes parents discussing the benefits of undertaking activity. Hypothesis We predicted that parental support would mediate the relation- ship between self-esteem and motivation, and sports partici- pation. We hypothesized that tangible and intangible support from parents can affect the relationship between self-esteem, motivation, and sports participation. Specifically, we hypoth- esized that students with unsupportive parents would be less active than students with supportive parents. To control for additional factors known to influence stu- dents ’physical activity levels and parental support, we includ- ed gender, parental education, and financial status as covari- ates (Vasques et al. 2014). Previous research has consistently reported girls to be engage in less sports participation (Saelens et al. 2012) and to receive less parental encouragement (Markland and Tobin 2004) than boys. Students from high socioeconomic status backgrounds, operationalized in terms of parental education and income, have more opportunities and resources to get social support for their social and cogni- tive development than students from low socioeconomic sta- tus backgrounds (Eime et al. 2013). Method Participants We obtained ethics approval for the standardized data collec- tion from a University institutional review board. We collected data in the three universities of Hefei, China. Participants were 255 Chinese students (females = 184; males = 71) and either of their parents (178 Mothers; 77 Fathers). The first step was to inform teachers at the selected universities about our re- search and its objective. We then asked teachers of different classes to explain the research to students and their parents and invite the students and parents to participate. We recruited the sample of students aged 16 to 18 years from each university. We approached 300 students from three universities (100 stu- dents from each university) and their parents to participate in this study. We received positive responses from 255 students and their parents, so the response rate was 85%.We only in- cluded students one of whose parents also volunteered. We sampled similar numbers of students from each university. Teachers provided us with a list of names and contact ad- dresses of students and parents who agreed to participate in the research. We sent an online survey link to each student ’s email address. The students completed their questionnaire and asked their parents to complete the questionnaires about their support for their child. After completing the questionnaires, students sent them back online. Data collection took place between February and August 2016. Design This was a cross-sectional, correlational study in which we tested a model that parental support was a mediator of the relationship between motivation, self-esteem, and sports participation. Measures Measures Administered to Students Students ’demographic information Students were asked about their age and gender. Curr Psychol (2019) 38:308 –319 311 Self-esteem scaleThe Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg 1965), consisting of ten items, was used to mea- sure self-esteem of adolescents. We selected the five items for this study to measure the self-esteem of adolescents. Participants used a 5-point Likert scale to respond. For exam- ple, Item 1 in the scale used was, BOn the whole, I am satisfied with myself ^. Item 2 used was, BI am able to do things as well as most other people ^. Item 3 was, BI feel that I have a number of good qualities ^. Item 4 used was, BI take a positive attitude toward myself ^. Item 5 used was, BI am able to do things as well as most other people ^. In the present study a Cronbach alpha of 0.747 was obtained on this scale. Motivation Revised Sports Motivation Scale (Mallett et al. 2007 ) comprising of 24 items measures six forms of motiva- tion: amotivation, external regulation, introjected regulation, identified regulation, intrinsic motivation and integrated reg- ulation. Participants used a 5-point Likert scale to respond e.g., 1.Does not correspond 2.Corresponds a little 3. Corresponds moderately 4. Corresponds a lot 5. Corresponds exactly. Motivation for sports participation was assessed using 18 items taken from Revised Sports Motivation Scale. Revised Sports Motivation Scale was reduced from a 24-item to an 18-item measure by selecting the item loading most strongly onto each subscale. Estimate of an overall reli- ability using Cronbach ’s alpha for this scale was 0.75 in the present study. The measurement model of motivation for sports yielded a good fit, with an overall χ 2(68) value of 146.07, with CFI = 0.96, TLI = 0.95, and RMSEA = 0.05. Physical activity/sports participation In this study we included sport as a physical activity that has a sport governing body and, is competitive by its nature and organization and is gen- erally accepted as being a sport e.g., basketball, tennis, bad- minton, cricket and football ( http://www.ausport.gov.au/ supporting/nso/asc_recognition ). We used an adapted version of The Physical Activity Index (PAI) Scale (Sharkey 1979 ) in the present study. The PAI was developed to assess the nature and level of sports participation in individuals. We have adapted the PAI to measure the two categories of activity on the PAI a 5-point Likert scales, namely; frequency (i.e., how many times during the week they participated? a. One time, b. Two times, c. three times, d. Four times, more than four times); and duration of participation (i.e., time spent on sporting activities during the week? a. less than 30 min, b. 30 min, c. less than 60 min, d. 60 min, e. more than 60 min). Level of participation (a. local, b. university level, c. national level, d. international, e. if any other please men- tion) was also assessed. Higher scores indicated higher levels of sports participation. Frequency and duration of participa- tion were combined to calculate the Cronbach alpha. Cronbach alpha of 0.74 was obtained on this scale in the present study. Measures Administered to Parents Parents ’demographic information form Parents were asked about their Education ranging from Bnot educated^ to B University degree ^and financial status ranging from B monthly income less than 2000 yuan ^to Bmore than 8000 yuan ^on a 5-point Likert scale. Parental support Parental support was assessed through the four items of the ‘Friends and Family’ scale of the Neighborhood Impact on Kids (NIK) study survey (Saelens et al. 2012). In this study, we used the measure of parental support for sports participation to assess the parental support for students ’sports participation, which can be support given at any time, not just during the previous week. The four items, based on the stem Bhow often parents had …^were, 1) watched, 2) encouraged, 3) provided trans- port for their child to play sport/engage in physical activity, and 4) taken part with their child. Parents rated each item on a scale of 1 ( never)to5( every day). Systematic reviews of parental social support have previously demonstrated that such support can be differentiated into two types of support: i) tangible, which can be further categorized as instrumental (e.g., proving transport) or conditional (e.g., exercising togeth- er) or ii) intangible, which can be further categorized as moti- vational (e.g., encouragement) or informational (e.g., discussing benefits). These different types of support are not conceptually equivalent, and may operate through theoretical- ly distinct mechanisms (Beets et al. 2010). Because the four items of the support measure used in the present study map to different categories of support, in line with these arguments, they were considered separately in the analysis. For this rea- son, internal consistency for NIK as single scale was not cal- culated but we calculated internal consistency using Cronbach alpha for both scales separately, and obtained 0.71 and 0.73 for tangible and intangible support respectively. Scales Translation into Chinese Language We translated all the scales into Chinese, using the standard back-translation procedure. After translation into Chinese by two translators familiar with the concepts, two bilingual re- viewers, who were naïve to the concepts and the measures used the back-translation method to evaluate the Chinese ver- sion of each measure by translating the new Chinese version back into English. Then we compared the meaning of this translation to the original English version of each scale. Any discrepancies were addressed by making changes to the Chinese version. We considered equivalence of meaning to be more important than literal, verbatim translation. The num- ber of discrepancies was small and modifications were quickly and effectively implemented. Then, the questionnaires in Chinese were sent to monolingual Chinese speaking 312 Curr Psychol (2019) 38:308–319 respondents for pretesting for comprehension and modified according to feedback given by these individuals. Analysis We screened the data for univariate and multivariate normality and outliers. Internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’salpha coefficient) was calculated for all study variables. Descriptive statistics (i.e., means, standard deviations, and bivariate corre- lations) were assessed to provide a sample description. All statistical analyses were conducted using SPSS Version 21 and AMOS Version 21. In a preliminary analysis, all data were tested for normal distribution and gender differences, using independent t-tests. Correlation analyses were used to investigate the bivariate relationships between all variables. To test our hypothesis regarding the relationships between self-esteem, motivation, sports participation, and parental sup- port, we performed structural equation modeling (SEM) pro- cedures, using full-information, maximum likelihood methods for model estimation (Wang et al. 2015). To assess model-data fit, standard indices were calculated and compared with the criteria for acceptable fit: the chi-square statistic (Chi 2/df, with values <5.0 acceptable and < 2.0 reflecting a good fit); Comparative Fit Index (CFI, with values higher than .95); the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA, which should be less than .08 for an acceptable fit and less than .05 for an excellent fit); and the Standardized Root Mean Square Residual (SRMR, less than .07 for an acceptable fit and .05 for an excellent fit) (Hooper et al. 2008). Results Analyses of the socioeconomic status, ranging from monthly income (1. less than 2000 yuan, 2. between 2000 and 3999 yuan, 3. between 4000 and 5999 yuan, 4. between 6000 and 7999 to 5. more than 8000 yuan) with percentage for option 1 = 4.1%, 2 = 18.7%, 3 = 29.5%, 4 = 27.6% and 5 = 20.1% shows that the present sample was representative of a popula- tion of same-aged students from different social classes. There was no effect of gender on sports participation, parental sup- port, and self-esteem because there was no significant differ- ence in the mean value of all the variables for males and females. To detect multivariate outliers, the Mahalanobis dis- tance values were calculated. No multivariate outliers were identified. Before examining the mediating effect of parental support on the relationships between self-esteem, motivation, and sports participation, we conducted preliminary analyses relat- ed to gender, parental education, and socioeconomic status. Ta bl e 1shows descriptive statistics of all the latent variables. All variables were normally distributed with skewness values of 1.02 to .99 and kurtosis values of 1.019 to 1.60. An independent samples t-test showed there was no signif- icant effect of gender on students ’sports participation ( t= 1.44, p> 0.05), motivation ( t= 1.75, p> 0.05), parental support: a) tangible support ( t= 1.36, p> 0.05), b) intangible support ( t= 0.063, p> 0.05), and self-esteem development ( t =0.981, p> 0.05). This indicates that male and female stu- dents did not have significantly different levels of self-esteem, motivation, parental support, or sports participation. Although there were more females than males in the sample, the num- bers of participants of each gender are more than adequate for independent samples t-tests, so we consider that the gender imbalance did not affect the t-test and had no meaningful impact on the results. To examine the relationships between parental support, sports participation, motivation, and self-es- teem, correlation analyses were conducted for the whole sam- ple, including males and females. Bivariate correlation showed that financial status was pos- itively correlated with tangible and intangible support, which means that students with high financial status parents received more tangible and intangible support from their parents. Parental education was positively correlated with sports par- ticipation and both types of parental support, which means that children of educated parents were more likely to partici- pate in sports and receive tangible and intangible support from their parents. Socioeconomic status (parental education com- bined with financial status) was not directly correlated with other study variables (see Table 2). To test our main study hypothesis, SEM procedures were performed. The structural model is presented in Fig. 1.The structural model yielded an overall chi-square ( df=175) of 237.40, with CFI = 0.985, RMSEA = 0.047, SRMR = 0.035 and 90% CI [.034 –.085], satisfying the common critical values. No significant modification indices emerged in this structural model. Given the good fit of the model to the data and the lack of modification indices, no further modification was made to the structural model. All factor loadings and covariances were significant. Thus, we examined our hypothesis. As shown in Fig. 1, motivation was directly, positively associated with tangible support ( β=0.17, p< 0.001), as well as with intangible support ( β=0.14, p <0.01), from parents. S elf-esteem was directly, positively associated with tangible support ( β=0.19, p< 0.001), as well as with intangible sup- port ( β= 0.16, p< 0.01) from parents. Sports participation was directly, positively associated with tangible support ( β= 0.44, p< 0.001), as well as intangible support (β =0.29, p <0.001) from parents. Our study supported the hypothesis that parental support would mediate the relationship between self-esteem and mo- tivation towards sports participation. Self-esteem ( β= 0.03, p > 0.05) and motivation ( β=0.07, p> 0.05) showed no direct association with sports participation. Self-esteem and motiva- tion were directly associated with parental support, but not Curr Psychol (2019) 38:308 –319 313 with sports participation, whereas parental support was strongly related to students’sports participation. Hence, pa- rental support appears to be a mediator between self-esteem, motivation, and sports participation. Discussion The findings from this study demonstrated that self-esteem was not directly related with sports participation, but parental support acts as a mediator of the relationship between self- esteem and sports participation of Chinese adolescent stu- dents. Previously, researchers have reported mixed results for the association between self-esteem and sports participa- tion. Orth et al. ( 2010) found significant associations between self-esteem and sports participation, but to a small extent. Slutzky and Simpkins ( 2009) found no direct association be- tween self-esteem and sports participation. Slutzky and Simpkins suggested the value of examining mediating pro- cesses, to better explain the association between self-esteem and sports participation. Individuals ’motivation is associated with physical and so- cial environment factors, including the influence of parents (Trost et al. 2003). Motivation from parents has been identi- fied as an especially important factor related to adolescents ’ sports participation (Fredricks and Eccles 2004). Our results showed that the relationship between motivation and sports participation was mediated thorough parental support as mo- tivation was directly associated with parental support, which was also shown in previous research (e.g., Gonzalez et al. 2005 ). In the present study, we found that parental support, includ- ing tangible and intangible support, mediates between the pre- dictors (self-esteem and motivation) and outcome (sports par- ticipation). For example, parents can provide instrumental support (e.g., organizing PAs, providing transportation, pay- ing activity fees), emotional support (e.g., encouraging chil- dren), informational support (e.g., giving instruction), com- panionship support (e.g., playing with children), and valida- tion support (e.g., serving as role models). Many researchers have confirmed that due to these interactions with parents, children shape their attitudes and values toward sports partic- ipation (Bandura 1986;Harter 1982). Our results showed stronger correlation between tangible parental support and sports participation, with β= 0.44, than intangible support, with β= 0.29. The correlation between parental support and sports participation was stronger than the correlations between parental support and self-esteem or motivation. The effect of tangible and intangible support did not differ, when we examined the association between parental support and self-esteem or motivation (in both cases a difference of β = 0.3 was observed), but the difference was greater ( β= 0.15), when we examined the association between parental support and sports participation. Research conducted in other countries has also shown that parental support was positively related with their children ’s sports participation (Edwardson and Gorely 2010). The findings from this study also support the findings of previous research conducted in the USA and Denmark that parental support is an essential element in initi- ating measures to increase a dolescent physical activity (Fuemmeler et al. 2012; Yolanda and Oliver 2011). However, in a review of more than 100 studies of children and adolescents, Trost and Loprinzi ( 2011)didnotfindany Table 1 Mean differences by gender with level of significance 0.05 Variable Mean Differences by Gender Girls (n=184) Boys ( n=71) Total ( n=255) t p SE 3.2319 3.3615 3.2967 0.981 0.328 Tang.Supp 3.2106 3.0423 3.1264 1.36 0.175 Intang.Supp 3.3880 3.3944 3.3912 0.063 0.950 SP 3.1178 2.9061 3.0119 1.44 0.150 Motivation 3.0144 3.1433 3.0785 1.75 0.127 There is no significant difference in the mean value of all variables for girls and boys SE Self-esteem, Tang.SuppTangible support, Intang.SuppIntangible support and SPSorts participation Table 2 Correlation matrix among all variables Variable1234567 SP 1 0.22 0.51 0.59* 0.35 0.08 0.82* SE 1 0.69* 0.68* 0.76* 0.35 0.22 Tang.Supp 1 0.58** 0.60** 0.48* 0.61* Intang.Supp 1 0.74* 0.88* 0.41** Motivation 1 0.07 0.10 FS 1 0.33** PE 1 SP Sports participation, SESelf-esteem, Tang.SuppTangible support, Intang.Supp Intangible support, FSFinancial status, PEParents educa- tion. Single * shows positive correlation at 0.05 level of confidence while ** shows positive correlation at 0.01 level of confidence. Remaining variable have no correlation with each other 314 Curr Psychol (2019) 38:308–319 consistent association between parental support and children’s physical activity level. These differences could be related to a number of factors, including parental support and sports par- ticipation measures, statistical analysis, participants ’ages, and cultural context. In the present study, in the context of adoles- cents in China, we identified parental support as an important factor influencing sports participation, as has also been shown in a number of studies in western countries (Cleland et al. 2011 ). Therefore, the importance of parental support has to be given consideration, for example, when designing sports- related activities. Keeping in view the potential influence of parental support should be useful when strategies are designed to increase sports participation. Bivariate correlation showed that financial status was posi- tively correlated with tangible and intangible support, which means that students with high financial status parents received more tangible and intangible support from their parents. Parental education has previously been positively correlated with sports participation (Pan et al. 2009) and parental support. Thus, chil- dren of educated parents were more likely to participate in sports and receive support from their parents. In the present study, so- cioeconomic status (parental education and financial status) was not directly correlated with other study variables. We also examined whether the pattern of correlations was different for males and females. Results showed that male and female students did not have significantly different levels of self-esteem, motivation, and parental support, which is similar to the results of previous studies (Eriksson et al. 2008; Wang et al. 2016; Henriksen et al. 2015). Many previous studies have provided evidence that self-esteem and sports participa- tion was higher in males than females (Orth and Robins 2014). A key, original aspect of our study was that it was conduct- ed in China, where parental role is different from other coun- tries (Xu et al. 2005). Many studies related to parental roles have been conducted in western countries, but not in China. Due to concern about declining sports participation in Chinese adolescent students we focused on major personal factors that can be related with students ’sports participation. This study provides insight about the role of parental support for those students who are not living with their parents, but parental support plays an important role for them too as evidenced by our findings. In addition, it should be noted that the current behavior of older adolescents is not just affected by parents ’ current level of support. Parents ’behavior to their children for many years influences the children ’s current behavior. In the present study, we aimed to explore the relationship between motivation and self-esteem as predictor variables, parental support as a mediator variable, and sports participation as an outcome variable. It was observed that students who received greater parental support (tangible, intangible) were more high- ly motivated and had more positive self-esteem. In this study we explored the pivotal role of parents in providing tangible and intangible support to participate in sports. Our results also showed that students who received greater parental support had higher levels of sports participation. Results of the present study supported previous research (Edwardson and Gorely 2010 ) that also showed that parental support is positively re- lated to sports participation of adolescents (Khan et al. 2017). However, previous studies were conducted on samples from western countries. Thus, it was important to examine whether the mediating role of parental support also applies to Chinese students. Fig. 1 *shows that relationship is significant at p< 0.001 and ** shows that relationship is significant at p< 0.01 Curr Psychol (2019) 38:308 –319 315 Schools and parents should share the responsibility of physical education of their students and children. The Bureau of Education in Haidian District, Beijing, decided to assign physical homework to all primary school students from January 1, 2014 (Yang and Shi 2014). They divided all the athletic activities into five sections, and the students were advised to finish five athletic activities from different sections. Parents were requested to record their children ’s performance and upload their data to dedicated websites from which the school could get the information at any time. The provincial government also announced that the physical homework was not obligatory, but a method to enhance the physical activity of children with their parents (Yang and Shi 2014). Assigning physical homework aims to extend school physical education to extracurricular activities and daily life. Yang and Shi stated that this helped to change parents’ perception and attitude towards physical education. Limitations of the Current Study The study has several limitations. First, although the sample was adequate, it was not large. Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) and Bartletts test measure was used to test the sample adequa- cy. Value obtained was 0.694, which is acceptable. More pow- erful modeling analysis could be conducted with a larger sam- ple. It would be possible to include variables that were exam- ined here only in correlations and proved to be significant, including parental financial status and parental education. The sample came from three different universities, but they were all based in one city. In such a large country as China, with diverse cultures in different provinces and regions, it would be interesting to compare parental support in different cities and provinces, and to examine the impact of this vari- able on the mediating role of parental support. We invited 300 students and their parents to participate in the study. But we got data from 255 students and their parents. To some extent, the sample was not large, and respondents may be those stu- dents and parents who were more active in competitive sports, so they were more likely to participate in the study, which may lead to some bias. Given that the sample comprised university students and their parents, it is not clear whether the present results can be generalized to those sections of the population who are not attending universities. We propose to conduct a more extensive study in future, involving longitudinal re- search with a large sample of different age groups and diverse backgrounds to test the parental support hypothesis further. Thus, we propose future research with a large sample involv- ing cities and rural areas from the diverse regions of China to examine more generalizable findings as well as differences based on cultural variations within China. In this study, we investigated only parental support, but other social factors, including the influence of peers and teachers should also be studied in future. A noteworthy limitation is that we used a cross-sectional design. Studies with longitudinal designs would permit stronger conclusions to be drawn about cause and effect relationships between self-esteem, motivation, and sports participation, and the mediating influence of parental support. In addition to involvement in competitive sports, stu- dents might benefit from doing a range of non-competitive physical activities that could be instrumental, such as garden- ing, walking the dog, or house cleaning, as with as leisure related, such as bicycle riding in the countryside or swimming for fun. Reflection on parental support for such activities would be speculative, so we have not commented on this issue. We recommend future studies should focus on the pa- rental role in promoting physical activity in general, not just in organized and competitive sports. Conclusion Our correlational analysis showed that parental education had a positive relationship with parental support, but no direct relationship with sports participation, self-esteem, or motivation. Financial status had a positive relationship with parental support, but no direct relationship with sports par- ticipation, self-esteem, or motivation. In our primary SEM analysis, the mediation model showed that self-esteem and motivation indirectly influenced students ’levels of sports participation mediated through parental support, and self- esteem and motivation had direct relationships with parental support. Associations between parental support and sports participation were stronger in terms of the path coefficients than associations between self-esteem, motivation, and pa- rental support. This indicates that parental support enhances the effects of self-esteem and motivation on sports participa- tion. Thus, we recommend that there should be a greater focus on the role of parents ’involvement in their adolescent children ’s sports participation, which in turn can produce many positive outcomes in terms of the frequency, duration and intensity of the children ’s participation. Parents provide a target for interventions to increase sports participation through encouragement to promote the importance of sports participation to their children either through their own be- havior or supporting their child to be active. It is assumed that parental support is needed by children not the adolescents. But the current study results showed that ad- olescents also get support from their parents, which results in positive outcomes. Further studies are recommended to study the influence of parental support on adolescents. Acknowledgements I declare that manuscripts submitted to the Journal have not been published elsewhere or are not being considered for pub- lication elsewhere and that the research reported will not be submitted for publication elsewhere until a final decision has been made as to its ac- ceptability by the Journal. 316 Curr Psychol (2019) 38:308–319 Compliance with ethical standards Conflict of InterestAuthors Haroona Qurban, Jin Wang, Hassan Siddique, Tony Morris and Zhi Qiao declare that they have no conflict of interest. Ethical approval Participation in the study was voluntary and anony- mous, so it was stored with code numbers to identify questionnaires completed by the same student and their parent. Respondents completed the questionnaires using the online survey link and all data were saved automatically without specific identity of the respondents. Some of the study participants were under and some over 18 years old, so those who were 18 and over gave their own written consent and those under 18 obtained written parental consent. Parents who completed questionnaires gave written consent in advance. All data was stored in a secure folder on the first author ’s computer during the course of the study. Informed consent Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. References Adkins, S., Sherwood, N. E., Story, M., & Davis, M. (2004). Physical activity among African-American girls: The role of parents and the home environment. Obesity Research, 12 (Supple), 38Se45S.https:// doi.org/10.1038/oby.2004.267 . Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory .EnglewoodCliffs:PrenticeHall. Bauman, A., Allman, F. M., Huxley, R., & James, W. P. (2008). 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ORIGINAL ARTICLE Women’s Precollege Sports Participation, Enjoyment of Sports, and Self-esteem David R. Shaffer &Erin Wittes Published online: 16 November 2006 # Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006 AbstractThis study tested a model that specifies that the psychosocial impact of women’s precollege sports partici- pation 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. Fol- low-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. KeywordsSports. Enjoyment. Self-esteem Sports and sporting activities play a prominent role in many persons’lives. Millions of spectators passionately track the fortunes of their favorite teams and athletes, and a sizable number of sports enthusiasts participate in one or moreathletic activities, either as formal participants in athletic competitions or for recreational purposes. What benefits do people derive from sporting activities, and to what extent does their own participation influence their sense of self ? Reasons for participating in sports are many and varied, including, but not limited to, enjoyment of the activity, peer and parental influence, presumed health benefits of partic- ipation, and an increase in physical conditioning/well-being (e.g., Battista,1990; Brustad,1988; Cote,1999; Holland & Andre,1994; Scanlan & Lewthwaite,1986; Snyder & Spreitzer,1979). Among the most common presumed psychosocial benefits of sports participation is an enhanced sense of self-worth. Research on male samples is generally consistent with the latter assertion, which suggests that sports participation may have both short-term and long- term effects on persons’self-esteem (e.g., Pascarella & Smart,1991; Spretizer,1994; Taylor,1995; Vilhjamsson & Thorlindsson,1992). Our focus in the present research centers on a presumed motivation for participating in sports and psychosocial benefits of such sports participation in young women. Several researchers have noted that sports and athletic activities are still generally considered to be a masculine domain (e.g., Koivula,1999; Shaw, Kleiber, & Caldwell,1995) and that girls may have difficulty reconciling the physical and competitive nature of sports with their emerging feminine self-concepts (Eccles, Barber, Jozefowicz, Malenchuk, & Vida,1999). Yet, girls’and women’s participation in athletics has increased dramatically in the past 30 years (Schultz & Fish,1998), owing, in part, to the passage and enforcement of Title IX (Grant,1995), a federal law passed in 1972 that bans discrimination on the basis of gender in federally funded institutions. Moreover, encouragement of girls to participate in sports is apparent in such popular cultural appeals as the late 1990s advertising campaign by Sex Roles (2006) 55:225–232 DOI 10.1007/s11199-006-9074-3 This article is based on a Master’s thesis conducted by the second author under the direction of the first author. D. R. Shaffer (*) :E. Wittes Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA e-mail: [email protected] Nike that featured young girls pleading“If you let me play sports”and then citing various health and psychosocial benefits that purportedly result from sport participation, including an enhanced sense of self-esteem. Sports Participation and Girls’Self-esteem Previous research on the relationship between girls’sports participation and self-esteem is limited and somewhat inconsistent. Several researchers have reported bivariate relationships that indicate that girls (and boys in mixed- gender samples) who participate in sports have higher self- esteem than those who do not (Butcher,1989; Centre for Research on Girls and Women in Sport,1997; Koivula, 1999; Rao & Overman,1986;Taylor,1995). Other researchers have reported that whether sports participation is positively or negatively related to participants’self-esteem is moderated by participants’gender role orientations and the nature of the sporting activity; for example, individuals with a feminine gender role orientation are most likely to derive a sense of self-worth from participating in noncompetitive than in competitive sports (Bowker, Gadbois & Cornock,2003). Yet, it is worth noting that sports participation has been, at best, a modest predictor of global self-esteem for partic- ipants of either sex (e.g., Jackson & Marsh,1986; Richman & Shaffer,2000; Spreitzer,1994). Jackson and Marsh (1986) suggested that sports partic- ipation influences self-esteem indirectly by enhancing such sports-related contributors to self-worth as perceived physical competence and a favorable body image. Recent research with a female sample supported this viewpoint (Richman & Shaffer,2000). Specifically, a positive bivariate relationship between girls’participation in sports in high school and their self-esteem during the college years was mediated by the favorable impact of sport participation on participants’perceived physical competence, body image, and masculinity and that in the absence of such “benefits,”sport participation was associated with lower levels of self-esteem (see also Marsh,1998, for similar results among sample of elite athletes). Thus, one reason that relationships between sports participation and self- esteem are often modest is that sports affect girls in different ways and seem to enhance self-worth only to the extent that they promote other contributors to self-esteem.Sport Enjoyment and Self-esteem Although sports participants of both sexes cite health benefits and social stimulation as reasons for participating in sports, the most frequently cited motive participants give is affective or evaluative in character: Sports are“fun,” “exciting,”or“activities that I enjoy”(e.g., Battista,1990; Scanlan & Lewthwaite,1986; Snyder & Spreitzer,1979). This finding suggests an interesting motivational model of girls’sports participation that, to our knowledge, has not been evaluated. Perhaps the positive relationship between girls’sport participation and self-esteem is mediated (or moderated) by the extent to which girls report that they enjoy sporting activities. Far fewer girls than boys regularly participate in sports (Centre for Research on Girls and Women,1997; Eccles & Barber,1999), and their partici- pation often stems from formal and informal inducements to participate from gym teachers, parents, siblings, or peers. We propose that girls who discover that they enjoy sporting activities during childhood or adolescence may experience gains in self-esteem from their participation, whereas those who derive little enjoyment from sports participation may benefit little from, or even suffer psychosocially from, continued involvement in activities they dislike or perhaps think of as stereotypically masculine endeavors. Indeed, Bem and Lenney (1976) found that partaking in behaviors perceived to be more appropriate for members of the other sex is often discomforting and produces negative feelings about the self. Thus, one goal of the present research was to evaluate the simple but straightforward mediating/moder- ating model depicted in Fig.1—a model that specifies that sports participation fosters the self-esteem of young women who report that they enjoy sporting activities and that, at lower levels of enjoyment, partaking in sporting activities may actually undermine self-esteem. Of course, empirical support for the above hypotheses raises the issue of why girls might come to enjoy (or to derive little enjoyment from) sporting activities in the first place. We hypothesized that girls who come to enjoy sports the most are those who can point to clear benefits that they receive from their participation. Such benefits may be many and varied, although it is likely that sports-related enhance- ments to such personal attributes as physical competence, a favorable body image, and socially desirable masculine characteristics such as assertiveness and a healthy sense of Fig. 1Path model of the pro- posed relationships among pre- college sports participation, enjoyment of sports, and self- esteem during the college years. 226Sex Roles (2006) 55:225–232 competition, contribute heavily to girls’enjoyment of sports and to any enhanced sense of self-worth they may experience from their participation. A related corollary is that girls who fail to experience such benefits derive little if any enjoyment or enhanced self-worth from sporting activities. Our research was designed to test these hypoth- eses as well as a prediction that derives from them, namely that girls’enjoyment of sporting activities may account for little unique variance in self-esteem after controlling for the effects of sports participation on such contributors to self- worth as physical competence, a favorable body image, and a heightened sense of masculinity. Materials and Methods Participants The sample consisted of 245 female introductory psychol- ogy students from a large southeastern university who participated as part of a course requirement. The mean age of participants was 19.9 years. The majority of sample was European American (91%), 6% defined themselves as African American, 1% as Asian American, and 1.6% as Native American, Biracial, Hispanic, or“other.” Antecedent Measures Sports participationPrecollege participation in sporting activities was measured by asking participants to make quantitative and qualitative assessments of their precollege sporting activities using indexes developed earlier by Richman and Shaffer (2000). The first measure, Sport Years, asked participants to indicate the total number of years during grade school, junior high school, and high school that they had voluntarily taken part in athletics of any kind as active participants. Participants could select from seven possible responses (0 = less than 1 year; 6 = more than 6 years). The second measure, Sports Involvement, asked participants to indicate how personally involved in sports they perceived themselves to have been prior to coming to college (1 = not at all involved; 5 = very involved). These two measures proved to be internally consistent (α= .75) and were combined to form a composite index of precollege sports participation with scores that could range between 1 and 11. The mean for this sample was 8.44 (SD = 2.49), which indicates moderate precollege sport participation overall. Intervening Variables Enjoyment of sportsEnjoyment of sporting activities was assessed with an 8-item instrument designed for thisproject. Each item was a declarative statement pertinent to participants’affective/evaluative experiences in sporting activities (e.g.,“I enjoy sporting activities”;“I get excited when thinking about my sporting activities”;“I often wish I had chosen to participate less in sports”[reverse scored]) that was answered on a 5-point Likert-type scale (1 = not at all true of me; 5 = very true of me). Internal consistency of these items was quite acceptable in the present sample, with α= 0.83. Thus, participants’responses to the eight items were summed to yield composite measures of sports enjoyment. The mean score on the composite, which could range from 8 to 40, was 33.94 (SD = 5.10), which indicates that the average participant in our sample derived a moderate level of enjoyment from sports participation. 1 Physical competenceThe 62-item Physical Self-Descrip- tion Questionnaire (PDSQ) (Marsh, Richards, Johnson, Roche, & Tremayne,1994), designed for adolescents and adults, was used to assess several dimensions of physical competence. Each item consisted of a declarative statement that was rated by participants on a 6-point Likert-type scale (e.g.,“I am good at coordinated movements”;“I feel good about who I am physically”); higher scores indicate more of each attribute. The internal consistency of these items in our sample was quite high,α= 0.95. Thus, we summed participants’responses across the 62 items to form a composite index of perceived physical competence. The mean score on this composite, which could range from 70 to 372, was 265.0 (SD = 48.63), which indicates that participants had moderately positive perceptions of their physical competence. Body imageBody image was measured using the Body Esteem Scale (Franzoi & Shields,1984), a 35-item self- report instrument that assesses participants’feelings about their bodies with respect to weight control, sexual attrac- tiveness, and physical condition. Each item was rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale to describe strongly negative (1) to strongly positive (5) feelings. The internal consistency of our participants’responses to the 35 items on the scale was quite acceptable, withα= 0.91. Thus, we summed partic- ipants’responses to form a composite Body Image index. The mean score on this composite, which could range from 35 to 175, was 124.29 (SD = 19.64), which indicates that our sample had moderately favorable body images. Gender roleThe Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ) (Spence & Helmreich,1978) was used to assess partic- ipants’gender role orientations. The PAQ is a 24-item 1Copies of the Sports Enjoyment Scale are available, upon request, from the first author. Sex Roles (2006) 55:225–232227 instrument that produces indexes of masculinity (instru- mentality), femininity (expressiveness), and androgyny. The PAQ asks respondents to indicate on a 5-point scale ( 2 = not at all; +2 = very) the extent to which each of 12 traditionally masculine attributes (e.g., competitive) and 12 traditionally feminine attributes (e.g., emotional) are self- descriptive. Respondents who score above the sample median on both the masculinity and femininity subscales are classified as“androgynous,”whereas those who score below the median on both subscales are classified as “undifferentiated.”A desire to maximize power prompted us to treat participants’scores on the masculinity and the femininity subscales as continuous variables rather than to classify participants into discrete gender role subgroups. Participants’responses to the masculinity and femininity subscales were internally consistent (α= 0.76 andα= 0.75, respectively). The mean masculinity score in the present sample was 21.38 (SD = 4.13), whereas the mean femininity score was 25.04 (SD = 3.91). Outcome Variable Self-esteemParticipants’global self-esteem was assessed by the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg,1965), a 10-item instrument that consists of five positively worded items (e.g.,“On the whole, I am satisfied with myself”) and five negatively worded items (e.g.,“I feel as if I do not have much to be proud of”). Each item was rated on a 5- point Likert-type scale (1 = strongly disagree; 5 = strongly agree), and responses were summed, after reverse-coding the negatively worded items, to yield a composite self- esteem score that could range between 10 and 50. Participants’responses to this instrument were internally consistent(α= 0.87). The mean self-esteem score was 38.38 (SD = 6.90), which indicates that, on average, members of this sample had moderately positive self-evaluations.Results Preliminary Analyses Although the sample was overwhelmingly European Amer- ican, we first evaluated the possibility that a demographic variable, participant ethnicity, might be associated with the primary variables of interest in this study. When participant ethnicity was added to regression analyses that included all other variables of interest, it did not account for significant additional variance in either the proposed intervening variables or the consequent variable of self-esteem. On the basis of these results (and because no predictions were made regarding ethnicity effects), we did not include the participant ethnicity variable in subsequent analyses. Bivariate Analyses Bivariate correlations among all the variables were calcu- lated to determine their degree of interrelatedness and to establish a foundation for further analyses. Intercorrelations among variables for the sample appear in Table1.As expected, greater precollege sports participation predicted a more favorable body image, greater perceived physical competence, more flexible gender role attributes (i.e., greater masculinity), greater enjoyment of sports, and (marginally) higher levels of self-esteem. In addition, the proposed intervening variables were reliably associated with the consequent variable, global self-esteem. That is, women with more favorable body images, greater perceived physical competence, a stronger sense of masculinity, and who derived greater enjoyment of sporting activities reported higher levels of global self-esteem. It is interesting that femininity (or feminine expressivity) was not associ- ated with the proposed antecedent variable (sports partic- ipation), although it was modestly correlated with the consequent variable (global self-esteem). Table 1Intercorrelations among the antecedent, intervening, and consequent variables. Variable 1234567 Antecedent 1. Precollege sport participation–0.65*** 0.44*** 0.20*** 0.24*** 0.02 0.12* Intervening 2. Enjoyment of sports–0.56*** 0.33*** 0.32*** 0.06 0.26*** 3. Physical competence–0.64*** 0.53*** 0.00 0.32*** 4. Body image–0.37*** 0.10 0.47*** 5. Masculinity– 0.10 0.50*** 6. Femininity–0.15** Consequent 7. Self-esteem– *p= 0.06 **p< 0.05 ***p< 0.01 228Sex Roles (2006) 55:225–232 In sum, precollege sports participation was correlated with all of the proposed intervening variables and with self- esteem during the college years (albeit modestly), and all of the proposed intervening variables were reliable predictors of self-esteem. Testing the Enjoyment Model Standard path analysis (Darlington,1990) was used to evaluate the plausibility of a mediational model that specifies that precollege sports participation would posi- tively influence the self-esteem of young women to the extent that they enjoy such activities. First, the proposed intervening variable (enjoyment of sports) was regressed onto precollege sports participation. In the second step, self-esteem was the outcome variable, and enjoyment of sports was treated as a predictor. Significant pathways that emerged from these analyses appear in Fig.2. The path model accounted for a significant portion of the variance in women’s self-esteem, TotalR 2=0.36,p< 0.0001. As can be seen, sport participation predicted enjoyment of sports, which in turn, was a significant predictor of global self-esteem. Recall from the bivariate correlations that precollege sports participation was positively correlated (r= 0.12) with self-esteem. Note, however, that this relationship was reversed from positive to significantly negative when the proposed intervening variable of enjoyment of sport was included in the path model. It thus appears that participants’ sport enjoyment totally mediated the relationship between sports participation and self-esteem: Earlier sport participa- tion appears to foster self-worth to the extent that girls enjoy their sporting activities, but may actually undermine the self-esteem of girls and women who find sporting activities less enjoyable. Although the path model is consistent with a mediational model of the relationships among sports participation, enjoyment of sport, and self-esteem, additional analyses were performed to determine if enjoyment of sport might have moderated the sports participation–self-esteem rela-tionship. No support was found for moderating effects. That is, a regression analyses that included the interaction term between sports participation and enjoyment of sports, with self-esteem as the criterion, revealed no interaction effect after we controlled for the variance in self-esteem attribut- able to the main effects in the model. Does Enjoyment of Sports Stem from Beneficial Correlates of Sport Participation? Although enjoyment of sporting activities appears to mediate the relationship between sports participation and subsequent self-esteem, we hypothesized that enjoyment of sports results from tangible benefits associated with sports participation and may account for little unique variance in participants’self-esteem after controlling for such benefits. As expected, the bivariate analyses in Table1revealed that such sports-related benefits as physical competence, a favorable body image, and masculinity were reliably associated with sports participation and with participants’ enjoyment of sports. A hierarchical regression analysis was then performed to test our hypotheses. The outcome variable was self-esteem, whereas the predictors, entered in five steps in the order listed here, were sports participation, physical competence, body image, masculin- ity, and sports enjoyment. A summary of this analysis appears in Table2. As the table indicates, precollege sports participation was a marginally significant predictor of participants’self-esteem during the college years. Moreover, entry of each of the proposed“benefits”of sport participation at Steps 2–4 (i.e., physical competence, body image, and masculinity) resulted in significant changes inR 2, which indicates that each of these variables made a unique contribution to participants’self-esteem, TotalR 2= 0.42. Finally, sports enjoyment, entered at Step 5, failed to increaseR 2, which indicates that this variable does not contribute uniquely to women’s self-esteem after controlling for the main effects of sports participation and“benefits”that appear to result from sporting activities. Notice, also, that the relationship Fig. 2Path model of the relationships among precollege sports participation, enjoyment of sports, and self-esteem during the college years. Sex Roles (2006) 55:225–232229 between sport participation and self-esteem changed from marginally positive to significantly negative after the presumed impacts of sports participation on physical competence, body image, and masculinity were entered into the model. This finding implies that girls may not benefit (and could suffer) psychosocially unless their participation in sporting activities results in such benefits as enhancements in their physical competence, body image, or sense of masculine instrumentality. Discussion Previous research on the psychosocial impact for girls of participating in sporting activities is limited and somewhat inconsistent. Although several investigators have argued that sports participation can have a salutary effect on girls’ self-esteem, the resulting sports–self-esteem relationships are typically modest and subject to qualification (see for example, Bowker et al.,2003; Richman & Shaffer,2000). One potential shortcoming of previous research is that it typically fails to consider the“quality”of girls’sports experience, that is, how much girls enjoy the sporting activities they undertake. Given that enjoyment is the most frequently cited reason that participants list for partaking in sports, we chose to evaluate a mediating/moderating model that specifies that girls who enjoy sports would benefit psychosocially from their participation and that, at lower levels of enjoyment, continued sports participation may have a negative impact on self-esteem. Our data were consistent with these premises. Not only did sports participation predict sports enjoyment which, in turn, predicted girls’self-esteem, but the marginally significant positive relationship between sports participation and self- esteem became significantly negative after we controlledfor the influence of sports enjoyment. Thus, consistent with our model, these outcomes indicate that (1) earlier sports participation fosters self-esteem to the extent that girls enjoy their sporting activities, but (2) could actually undermine the self-worth of girls who find sporting activities less enjoyable. Our next concern was to explore some potentially important reasons why girls differ in their enjoyment of sports and to determine whether sports enjoyment might make a unique contribution to girls’self-esteem after controlling for the effects of those factors that might contribute to their enjoyment of sporting activities. There are, of course, a multitude of reasons why girls might enjoy sports. In this project, we focused on three sports-related “benefits”that had, in previous research (cf. Richman & Shaffer,2000), totally mediated the positive relationship between girls’earlier sports participation and later self- esteem: perceived physical competence, favorability of body image, and masculinity. As expected, each of these proposed contributors to sports enjoyment predicted pre- college sports enjoyment and self-esteem during the college years in bivariate analyses. Moreover, each made unique contributions to self-esteem after we controlled for the main effect of precollege sports participation. Finally, our analyses revealed that the sports enjoyment variable did not account for any variance in participants’self-esteem after we controlled for precollege sports participation and such presumed sports-related benefits as increased physical competence, a more favorable body image, and an enhanced sense of masculinity. This finding was anticipated and simply reflects, we believe, that (1) girls enjoy sports to the extent that they perceive themselves as benefiting in some way from sporting activities, and (2) the perceived benefits, rather then enjoyment per se, explains any positive effect of earlier sports participation on the self-esteem of college women. Table 2Summary of hierarchical regression analysis of sports-related predictors of women’s self-esteem. R 2change Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 1 Sports Participation 0.025* 0.12* 0.12* 0.09 0.13** 16** Step 2 Physical Competence 0.22**–0.53** 0.35** 0.18** 0.18** Step 3 Body Image 0.09**––0.35** 0.35** 0.35** Step 4 Masculinity 0.08**–– –0.25** 0.25** Step 5 Sport Enjoyment– ––––0.08 TotalR 2= 0.42** *p< 0.06 **p< 0.01 230Sex Roles (2006) 55:225–232 Limitations of the Present Research Clearly, this is a correlational study that relies on retrospective reports of prior sports participation and does not conclusively establish that involvement in sporting activities is causally related to either changes in self-esteem or to the variables presumed to mediate the relationship between sports participation and self-esteem. Accuracy of retrospective reports can always be questioned. Although in this project we did not measure how involved our participants were as collegians in sporting activities, we can point to data from prior samples drawn from the same population as our participants that indicate that retrospec- tive reports ofprecollegesports participation reliably predict college self-esteem and current perceptions of physical competence, body image, and masculinity, where- as measures of participants’collegesports participation do not (Richman,2001; Richman & Shaffer,2000). This provides some evidence that our measure of precollege sports participation was not merely a stand-in for current sports participation. And, unlike college students’reports of global self-esteem, earlier participants’retrospective reports of high school self-esteem werenotsignificantly correlated in previous research with their reports of body image, physical competence, or masculinity during the college years (Richman & Shaffer,2000). Although not definitive, such observations increase our confidence that earlier sports participation could well have meaningful effects on the model’s intervening variables and on self-esteem that were not qualified by participants’current levels of sports participation or their prior levels of global self-esteem. Nevertheless, results from this and earlier studies would certainly be bolstered by a prospective study that provided corroborating longitudinal data. Ideally, researchers would collect data from participants in at least three waves: (1) before they begin athletic participation, to establish a baseline for self-esteem; (2) during their periods of participation, to assess any immediate impacts of sporting activities on the model’s intervening and criterion variables; and (3) after athletic participation winds down or ends to assess the longevity of the effects. This design would yield the kinds of longitudinal data that come closer to illuminating any causal links among sports participation, the proposed intervening variables, and self-esteem. We also wish to caution against treating the experiences of our highly educated and predominantly White samples as the“norm”and failing to consider that any psychosocial impact of sports participation may reliably differ for young women from other educational and racial/ethnic back- grounds. Indeed, racial/ethnic variations in women’s body image and endorsement of gender-typed traits (Harris,1994; Myers,1989) are reasons to suspect that any effect of sport participation on self-esteem could vary across populationsand that our findings may not be at all“normative”for Women of Color. 2Thus, future researchers might strive to oversample participants from minority groups and to treat the diverse racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds of study participants as integral to model building rather than simply assuming that a middle-class cultural context represents the norm for all young women. Conclusions and Implications Despite its limitations, the present research clearly extends existing knowledge by (1) proposing how the quality of girls’sporting experiences (as indexed by sports enjoyment) and specific correlates of these evaluative judgments might influence the relationship between sports participation and self-esteem and (2) generating some plausible support for this model. Our findings also provide some clues about why the apparent psychosocial impacts of sports participation are modest in scope. Simply stated, sporting activities affect different girls in different ways. Sports participation appears to foster the self-esteem of girls who enjoy sporting activities because they perceive themselves as benefiting in some ways by their participation. But in the absence of these positive outcomes, participating in sporting activities may have little psychosocial impact or could actually undermine self-worth. How? For some participants, social comparisons undertaken during sporting activities may highlight just how physically uncoordinated or incapable they are—an inference that may undermine their enjoyment of sports and their sense of global self-worth. Other girls, who may be facing increased pressures to conform to gender-stereotyped behaviors—pressures that are common among adolescent girls (cf. Hill & Lynch,1983; Ruble & Martin,1998)—may derive little psychosocial benefit from sporting activities if they are concerned about the non- traditionality of their behavior as participants in a masculine activity or about others’potentially negative reactions to it (Koivula,1999; Richman,2001). The finding that sports participation might actually undermine the self-worth of some girls has implications for physical educators, parents, or anybody else who might encourage girls to partake in sporting activities. The goal, we believe, should be to find ways of illustrating to participants thebenefitsthey might incur from sports- enhanced physical capabilities, weight control, learning to be more appropriately assertive, or even that their efforts, no matter how minor, might contribute in important ways to team objectives and shared goals. Accordingly, gym classes 2Although race/ethnicity did not explain additional variance for any measure in our model, the fact remains that our small number of participants of Color may not have been sufficient to detect meaningful racial/ethnic differences in the sport participation/self- esteem relationship. 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