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The impact of socioeconomic position on sport participation among South Australian youth

Published:September 30, 2009DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2009.04.007

      Abstract

      Organised sport among youth makes a substantial contribution to daily energy expenditure. This study investigated socioeconomic gradients in sport participation and predictors of participation. A representative sample of young South Australians (10–15 y; n = 1737) was surveyed on organised sport participation in the previous 12 months, and predictors derived from the Children's Physical Activity Correlates scale and a parent survey. Four constructs were derived: ‘is it worth it?’ (perceived outcomes); ‘am I able?’ (perceived competency); ‘reinforcing’ (parental support); and ‘enabling’ (perceived barriers, from the parent survey). Socioeconomic position (SEP) was operationalised by an area-level indicator, the Socioeconomic Indicator for Advantage (SEIFA), split into tertiles. Sport participation was higher among high (highest SEIFA tertile) compared with low (lowest SEIFA tertile) SEP children. All predictors except ‘am I able?’ were positively associated with sport participation among boys and girls. Of these predictors, the ‘enabling’ construct varied by SEP among both boys and girls, with high SEP children reporting fewer barriers to participation. High SEP girls reported higher scores on ‘reinforcing’ and ‘is it worth it?’ than their low SEP counterparts. Low SEP girls reported lower levels of both instrumental and affective support from parents to play sport. There are distinct SEP gradients in sport participation, as well as its psychosocial and environmental predictors among South Australian youth. Low SEP girls are the most disadvantaged in terms of parental support to participate in sport. Interventions targeting this vulnerable group are urgently required.

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