Adolescents’ participation in sport activities and attachment to parents and peers
Saulius Sukys, Ausra Lisinskiene, and Ilona Tilindiene, (Lithuanian Sports University), 2015, 43(9), 1507–1518

The relationship between adolescents’ participation in sport activities and their parent and peer attachment is of great interest to me because it involves both adolescent sport activities and Bowlby’s (1969/1982) highly influential attachment theory.

As predicted by the authors, adolescents participating in sport displayed stronger parent attachment than did those who did not, and involvement in sport activities was an important factor in determining the quality of parent–adolescent relationships. However, a close relationship with other sport participants did not predict greater peer attachment for adolescents involved in sport activities.

The authors’ discussion in regard to parents’ role and appropriate behavior in the context of their children’s sport participation is very useful. For example, they state that parents must let their children enjoy sport without putting pressure on them to be successful. In my observation of children’s track and field athletics in Christchurch, New Zealand, I found that parents placed enormous pressure on their children. As a consequence, I believe, few of these children continued competing. I feel glad that as there was no such competition when I was a child, it was my choice to begin an involvement in track and field athletics as an adolescent with my expectations only. In addition, there have been recent local newspaper reports of a referee being attacked by a father who was a spectator at his son’s football match and by a boy playing in a rugby game. These incidents may reflect a wider occurrence of displays of parental pressure at children’s sport activities.

In regard to their finding that adolescents’ involvement in sport did not affect their peer attachment, the authors suggested helpful practical ways in which children who have not formed successful peer relationships can be supported.

Katharine Samuel | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal