The impact of organized sport participation on self-esteem in middle school children

Matthew Adam Berger, Pace University


It has been estimated that over 7 million children between the ages of five and seventeen participate in organized school sports in the United States. Research on what influence sports has on a child's social, academic, and psychological development has become an area of increasing interest. Past research has evaluated the role of sport participation on various psychological variables, including self-esteem. Although research has shown there to be correlations between sports participation and self-esteem, critics have argued that many of these studies generalized the term sports participation to encompass all levels of participation and predominantly utilized male samples at the high-school level. Research has shown that self-esteem development tends to decrease during the transition from elementary to middle-school but becomes more variable as students move from seventh to eighth grades. This study investigated the connection between interscholastic sports participation and self esteem, using a sample of 142 children in 7th and 8th grade at a heterogeneous suburban middle school. A demographic data sheet was used to provide descriptive information about gender, sports participation, extent of participation; quality of performance; and whether extraneous variables influenced one's ability to participate in an interscholastic sport. The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory School Form (CSEI) was completed by the children in order to provide total and subscale self-esteem scores. Contrast analyses were calculated for pairings representing extent of participation and self-esteem subscales and did not reveal any significant differences across self-esteem subscales and extent of participation. Correlational coefficients were determined between the subscales of the CSEI and quality and extent of sports participation. There were no significant correlations present between the level of self-esteem and the quality and extent of participation. Significant differences in self-esteem according to gender and sports participation were not present. A significant difference (p < .05) was present between those unable to participate in sports and those who did participate for the School-Academic Self-Esteem subscale. The restriction of range, and the resulting lack of variability among the self-esteem subtest scores for this sample was the most prevalent reason for the lack of significant findings in this study. The rationale underlying this project was to determine whether a relationship exists between organized sports participation and self-esteem, and results of this study suggest that while the impact of sports on one's self-esteem is inconclusive, the presence of sports participation in one's life may serve as one of several components in healthy self-esteem development. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Educational psychology|Physical education|Recreation

Recommended Citation

Berger, Matthew Adam, "The impact of organized sport participation on self-esteem in middle school children" (1999). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9950745.



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