‘How can you enjoy sports if you are under control by others?’ Self-organized lifestyle sports and youth development

Reidar Säfvenbom, Belinda Wheaton, Jen Agans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


While research shows a positive association between participation in organized sports and youth development, research on alternative and unorganized sport settings is lacking. This paper analyzes developmental processes in a sample of unorganized lifestyle sport contexts, drawing on a Relational Developmental Systems approach to human development. Based on observation and interviews with young practitioners in four lifestyle sport contexts, we found many similarities in these contexts and the possibilities they offered for youth development. Results suggest the contexts studied should not be considered unorganized but self-organized. These contexts may support positive development, not in spite of, but because of the lack of strict rules, formal leaders or a priori performance goals. The studied contexts are understood as embracing and tolerant, yet not accessible for all. Self-organized lifestyle sport contexts need more detailed research to understand how they can provide opportunities for positive development among some hard to reach groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1990-2009
Number of pages20
JournalSport in Society
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies

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