Reassessing the relationship between high school sports participation and deviance: Evidence of enduring, bifurcated effects

Douglas Hartmann, Michael Massoglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite its long-standing popular appeal, the idea that athletic activity is a deterrent to crime and delinquency suffers from a distinct lack of empirical support. This article tests the hypothesis that the relationship between high school sports participation and deviance varies by both type of deviant behavior and level of athletic involvement. The analysis is based upon longitudinal data focusing on the effects of involvement in high school sports, the country's largest institutional setting for youth sports participation, in early adulthood. We find that the relationship between athletic involvement and deviance varies significantly depending upon the deviant behaviors examined. Specifically, we find that shoplifting decreases with sports participation, while drunken driving increases. Moreover, these effects extend further into the life course (age 30) than has been demonstrated in any previous study and hold across all our measures of sports participation. Several potential explanatory mechanisms are evaluated. The implications of these enduring, bifurcated effects are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-505
Number of pages21
JournalSociological Quarterly
Volume48
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2007

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