Relationships Between Sports Team Participation and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Alternative High School Students

Karen E. Johnson, Marla E. Eisenberg, Linda H. Bearinger, Jayne A. Fulkerson, Renee E. Sieving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Evidence suggests that sports team participation differentially relates to health-risk behaviors. Few studies have explored relationships among high-risk youth.To examine associations between weekly sports team participation and health-risk behaviors (substance use, sexual risk-taking, violence involvement) among alternative high school (AHS) students.Data for this repeated cross-sectional analysis came from the 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010 Minnesota Student Surveys (n = 2847 to 4596). Logistic regression was used to examine relationships between sports team participation and 14 outcomes. Interaction terms tested whether associations varied by survey year, gender, and/or race/ethnicity.For males, sports team participation protected against most substance use outcomes and was associated with higher condom use. Female sports participants were less likely than nonparticipants to have ever had sex. For both genders, sports team participation was positively associated with gun carrying. No differences by race/ethnicity or year were found.Further research is needed with AHS students who play sports to understand mixed findings from the current study and how to promote healthy behaviors through sports.Health education professionals are in ideal positions to work with school administrators and researchers to facilitate scientific inquiry and translate it into practice. © 2014

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-165
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by the Adolescent Health Protection Research Training Program (School of Nursing, University of Minnesota) grant number T01-DP000112 (PI: Bearinger) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and an MCH Nursing Training Program in the Center for Adolescent Nursing grant number T80-MC00021 (PI: Bearinger) from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), both of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.


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