Moderate Involvement in Sports Is Related to Lower Depression Levels among Adolescents
Sanders, Christopher E., Field, Tiffany M., Diego, Miguel, Kaplan, Michele, Adolescence
Sports involvement has been found to be related to social and psychological well-being in Icelandic adolescents. The present study investigated whether similar relationships exist for American adolescents. A group of 89 high school seniors completed a questionnaire that gathered data on sports involvement, depression, intimacy with parents and friends, and grade point average. It was found that the moderate sports involvement group (3 to 6 hours per week) had lower depression scores than did the low sports involvement group (2 hours or less per week). The findings are discussed.
In a study on Icelandic youth, Vilhjalmsson and Thorlindsson (1998) examined the relationship of involvement in sports to a number of psychological, social, and demographic variables. They found that sports involvement was associated with gender, significant others' involvement in physical activity, and sociability. In another study, adolescent sports involvement was associated with less depressed mood, higher levels of achievement, and more social activities (Mechanic & Hansell, 1987).
The present study examined the relationship of different levels of sports involvement to similar social and psychological factors, including depression, among American adolescents. Based on previous findings, adolescents who had higher levels of sports involvement were expected to be less depressed, to have more intimate relationships with parents and friends, and to have a better grade point average.
The participants were 89 suburban high school seniors (mean age = 17); 37 were male and 52 were female. They were recruited from a private high school. The ethnic distribution was as follows: 76% Caucasian, 11% Hispanic, 5% Asian, 3% African-American, and 5% other. The participants, on average, were of middle to upper middle socioeconomic status (M = 3.9 on the Hollingshead Two-Factor Index).
The participants were administered a questionnaire that gathered data on sports involvement, depression, intimate relationships with parents and friends, and grade point average (Field & Yando, 1991). The questionnaires were completed anonymously within a 45-minute time frame in one of the students' classes. Sports involvement was divided into three categories (low = 2 hours or less per week, moderate = 3 to 6 hours per week, and high = 7 or more hours per week). Depression was assessed using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1977). CES-D scores can range from 0 to 60, with a score greater than 16 indicating depression. The CESD has been standardized for high school populations (Radloff, 1991) and has adequate test-retest reliability, internal consistency, and concurrent validity (Schoenbach, Kaplan, Wagner, Grimson, & Miller, 1983; Wells, Klerman, & Deykin, 1987). Intimate relationships with parents and friends was measured via a 24-item questionnaire (Blyth & Foster-C lark, 1987) that has demonstrated good psychometric properties (e.g., test-retest reliability = .81). Questions include: "How much do you go to your mother for advice/support?" and "How much does your best friend accept you no matter what you do?" Responses are made on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from "not at all" to "very much." Grade point average was assessed by having participants estimate their current overall grade point average on a 4-point scale.
Chi-square analyses indicated that there were no significant differences between the low, moderate, and high sports involvement groups in terms of gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status (SES), as shown in Table 1. Participants were evenly distributed across all three levels of sports involvement.
First, a MANOVA was performed on CES-D scores (depression), intimate relationships with parents and friends, and grade point average; F(6, 130) = 2.72, p [less than] . …