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Race sport and social support: A comparison between African American and White youths’ perceptions of social support for sport participation

There is a substantial theoretical literature arguing that African American families, more than other ethnic groups, push their children towards sports. However, there is a dearth of generalizable empirical research examining whether African American families do in fact encourage their children to participate in sport more than families of other ethnic groups do, or whether families encourage their youth more than non-kin, such as teachers, coaches and peers. Using a nationally representative US sample of 2185 third- through twelfth-graders, this study compares African American youths’ perceptions of encouragement for sports participation relative to other groups. Results indicate that relative to White, Hispanic and Asian youth, African American youth are more likely to receive encouragement for sports participation from all sources (total encouragement scores). While African Americans are also more likely to obtain encouragement from family members and non-kin than other ethnic groups are, African Americans receive equal amounts of encouragement from family and non-kin sources. The results of this study suggest that both African Americans and the larger community emphasize sportmore for African American youth than for other youth.