Team sports participation and risk-taking behaviors among a biracial middle school population

Joseph P. Garry, Susan L. Morrissey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Objective: There have been no large studies of middle school students to assess the association between team sports participation and risk-taking behaviors, despite evidence in high school and collegiate athletes. Our study evaluated whether team sports participation is associated with specific risk-taking behaviors among a biracial middle school population. Design: A cross-sectional survey using the Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Middle School Questionnaire. Setting: Twenty-two public middle schools in three rural counties in eastern North Carolina. Participants: 4,346 middle school students in grades 6-8 completed the survey. All students participated if present in school the day the survey was administered. 648 students fulfilled specific exclusion criteria. Main Outcome Measure: Multiple logistic regression examined team sports participation as a predictor of 17 risk-taking behaviors while controlling for gender, race, and grade. Results: Of the 3,698 students, 49% were male, 49.5% Caucasian, and 52.5% were involved in team sports. Sports participants, as compared with non-sports participants, reported significantly higher frequencies for carrying a gun (p < 0.001), carrying a weapon (p < 0.001), being in a physical fight (p < 0.001), current use of alcohol (p = 0.001), and experimentation with cigarettes and chewing tobacco (p < 0.001). In the multiple logistic regression analysis team sports participation was associated with the following behaviors: carrying a weapon (odds ratio 1.25, 95% confidence intervals 1.0731-1.4540), physical fight (1.15, 1.0017-1.3253), current alcohol use (1.24, 1.0560-1.461 1), and experimentation with cigarettes (1.26, 1.0991-1.4502), cocaine (1.37, 1.0300-1.8139) and inhalants (1.20, 1.0141-1.4130). Conclusions: Among a biracial middle school population, sports participants were more likely to demonstrate certain risk-taking behaviors when compared with non-sports participants. Further research is necessary to understand the relationships between risk-taking behaviors and team sports participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-190
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Journal of Sport Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2000


  • Cross-sectional studies
  • Health behavior
  • Risk-taking
  • Sports
  • Substance-related disorders
  • Survey
  • Violence
  • Weight loss


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