adolescents, sports, mothers, maternal relationships


Recent research highlights that relationships with parents are among those strengthened when youth play sports. This recent work, however, largely focuses on fathers, arguing that because of the persistent emphasis on masculinity in sporting spaces, youth sports might be especially effective at facilitating stronger relationships between fathers and children. This chapter asks how the mother-child dyad is influenced by youth formal participation in sports during their adolescence, including whether these patters differ for daughters and sons. The intense time investments the entire family unit incurs to support youth sport participation might be borne primarily by mothers; this in turn might increase adolescent athletes’ opportunities to do things with their mothers, share strong emotions with them, and be socialized by them. Under such circumstances, we would expect youth sport participation to strengthen relationships with mothers. On the other hand, emphases on what it means to be masculine are still an important part of sports and sporting spaces, hearkening back to sports’ roots as a way of establishing, maintaining, and expressing boundaries around masculinity. If the ways gender plays out in sports create obstacles specific to building relationships with mothers, sports participation benefits may not accrue in the same way. We use data from the US and the nationally-representative National Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to explore these possibilities. This file contains large tables of descriptive statistics and regression analyses as supplemental material to the chapter.

Document Type

Supplementary Materials

Publication Date





Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor