This book examines the youth sport parent experience through the lens of social capital, a cornerstone social science concept of the past 30 years. Social capital reflects the value of one’s social networks, and the actual and potential benefits – and costs – of relationships. Bringing together a team of kids for a season also brings together their families who all must negotiate this new social world. Within this world, relationships are bound to form, and these are the foundation upon which this project rests.
Youth sport scholars have traditionally been interested in questions such as: how many kids play sports, what sports they play, how and why do they start playing and stop playing, and the costs and benefit of participation. However, aside from sensational examples of youth sport parents behaving badly, scholars know far less about the parental experience. This time is meaningful for parents, because parents often spend as much or even more time at the fields than their children. It is thus worth examining what they might get out of this investment.
Utilizing two years of fieldwork and over 30 interviews with parents and board members of a youth baseball league in the southwestern United States, this book provides an inside look at the beneficial relationships that can be found in the bleachers of a kids’ baseball game, as well as the unseen, high-stakes games waged in the boardroom, where relationships can carry heavy costs as well. This book was originally published as a special issue of Sport in Society.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: youth sport and social capital 2. Mechanisms of social capital creation and consumption in a youth baseball league 3. What resources do parents exchange in the VCLL? 4. Benefactors and beneficiaries in social capital exchanges 5. The curious case of child care: an anomaly within social capital exchange motives in a youth sport organization 6. From the kids to ‘The Kids’ – the development of negative social capital I a Little League Baseball organization 7. Epilogue: a discussion of the connections between youth sport and social capital 8. Appendix: the structure of the VCLL
Sean F. Brown is an Adjunct Lecturer in the Sport Management Department of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, USA. He is currently an Associate Editor of Sport in Society; an international, peer-reviewed journal published by Taylor & Francis. His research interests include social capital and sport and education, soccer in the United States, and youth sport parents.