Call for Papers | “Family Issues in Amateur Athletics” | Special issue of Journal of Amateur Sport

Special Issue Guest Editors:

  • Travis E. Dorsch, Utah State University
  • Jordan A. Blazo, Louisiana Tech University
soccer mom etiquette: Don’t berate coaches or officials 2. No sideline coaching 3. Familiarize yourself with the game 4. Pack plenty of healthy snacks 5. Don’t put undue pressure on your child Final five rules after the jump 6. Don’t force your child to play 7. Encourage plenty of practice 8. Model good sportsmanship 9. Don’t criticize the other team 10. Encourage kids after a loss, don’t lecture
Soccer mom etiquette: 1. Don’t berate coaches or officials; 2. No sideline coaching; 3. Familiarize yourself with the game; 4. Pack plenty of healthy snacks; 5. Don’t put undue pressure on your child; 6. Don’t force your child to play; 7. Encourage plenty of practice; 8. Model good sportsmanship; 9. Don’t criticize the other team; 10. Encourage kids after a loss, don’t lecture.

“Organized sport is not merely activity; it is situated activity. Indeed, most if not all human activity requires resources to permit it to occur properly” (Fine, 1987, p. 15).

Certainly, the family serves as a primary resource for the enactment of amateur sport. Parents are commonly the providers and interpreters, and siblings often socialize or are socialized by a child’s early sport experiences. In short, organized sport would not operate as we’ve become accustomed without various forms of family interaction. Family involvement is an especially integral part of youth sport participation. For instance, parents often serve as coaches, referees, scorekeepers, concession stand attendants, and ticket-takers while siblings are backyard competitors, role models, and confidants. Parents and siblings are therefore instrumental in shaping and understanding sport experiences and have meaningful influence on one’s development. Considering the potential for youth sport and families to impact development in tandem, continued investigation of family issues in amateur athletics is needed to better understand the family unit in a dynamic, comparison-laden social environment.

One pathway researchers and practitioners have pursued to optimize amateur sport experiences is to better understand youth motivation in sport. This has led to providing best practice recommendations for coaches and administrators. While these efforts have been fruitful, they largely relegate family members as the “hidden” participants in youth sport. Given the family typically represents the earliest setting for sport experiences, family members are vital in one’s development of sporting beliefs and behaviors, making them of particular interest to researchers. Overwhelmingly, amateur athletics is a product of volunteer efforts, and it is clear that the cottage industry of organized sport would not function wholly without family involvement.

Importantly, organized sport provides a rather ubiquitous context for family interaction in Western cultures, whereby family involvement can shape children and adolescents’ developmental experiences. According to scientific and popular reports, as families continue to invest a growing percentage of resources into the athletic development and success of children, the “proper” level of family involvement has become an important cultural debate. This has led to the investigation of over- and under-involved parents, the quality of parental involvement, sibling relationships in sport, and sibling rivalry. Despite ambiguity in these findings, one thing is certain: families are an inextricable aspect of amateur sport.

Given the current state of knowledge, there is a need for scholarly research and discussion on the role of families, in all their forms, in amateur sport. In this special issue on family issues in amateur athletics, we welcome submissions focused on (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • The family as a developmental context for children and adolescents
  • Family investment in amateur sport (e.g., money, emotion, time)
  • Parenting in all forms of amateur sport contexts
  • Volunteerism and issues related to parent-coaches
  • Vicarious or helicopter parenting in sport
  • Sibling relationship quality in recreational and competitive athletics
  • Sibling rivalry in competitive sport
  • Differential treatment of siblings in sport

We invite a wide range of original research, systematic reviews, theoretical and position papers, and brief reports that will enhance understanding of family issues in amateur athletics; researchers and practitioners across disciplines and drawing upon a wide range of theories, literatures, and methods are encouraged to submit.

If you have an interest in preparing a manuscript for submission, please send a one-page abstract (12-point font, single-spaced, with 1” margins) with working title to both Dr. Travis Dorsch ( and the JAS office ( by November 1st, 2016 at 5pm EST. If subsequently invited to submit, final manuscripts will be due for peer review no later than January 31st, 2017.

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