The relationship between adolescent sport participation and lifelong participation in physical activity in Norway

Eivind Å. Skille
Hedmark University College
Tor Solbakken
Hedmark University College


In this paper, the relationship between adolescent sport participation and lifelong participation in physical activity (LLP) is scrutinized, in order to explain why people are active later in life. Literature treating the relationship between sport participation during adolescence was compared to literature into characteristics of Norwegian adolescent sport. Organized and competitive sport does not facilitate lifelong continuation in physical activity, due to its characteristics of sport: adolescents often drop out from sport, adolescents specializes in one sport instead of keeping or developing a broad repertoire for physical activity, and adolescents do not feel autonomous and free in a sport setting as it is adult controlled. Assisted by Bourdieu’s theory of field and habitus, the analysis indicates that habitus (including characteristics of social class) better explains LLP than does adolescent sport participation. It is proposed that habitus can be seen as the intermediate mechanism that explains both adolescent sport participation and LLP (instead of seeing the former explaining the latter).

Click here to read this peer reviewed article  in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum

About the Authors

EIVIND Å. SKILLE is Professor with the Department of Sport at the Hedmark University College, Elverum, Norway. Eivind is a sport sociologist and his main research interests are sport policy, sport organization, and sport participation. Much of his work has focused on the relationship between the state’s sport policy making and the possibilities and constraints for implementation of this policy through the voluntary sport organizations. His latest publications include Idrettslaget – helseprodusent eller trivselsarena? (2012, Oplandske Bokforlag), The Conventions of Sport Clubs: Enabling and Constraining the Implementation of Social Goods Through Sport’ (2011, Sport, Education and Society, 16 (2): 253-265), and ‘Sport for all in Scandinavia: sport policy and participation in Norway, Sweden and Denmark’ (2011, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 3 (3): 327-340).

TOR SOLBAKKEN is associate professor of sport and physical education at Hedmark University College, department of Sport and Active Lifestyle.  His approach to research and development projects can be described as multidimensional with main focus on applied psychology  (learning strategies) and sport sociology (effects of sport participation). His latest publication in the field og sport sociology  is also in cooperation with professor Eivind Skille,  Sport as a vehicle for health promotion – an analysis of Norwegian policy documents (2011, Critical Public Health, 21: 191-202). Apart from the academic work, he is continuously involved as coach related to cross country skiing and biathlon at different levels.

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