Basketball, resiliency, and aggression in inner city male adolescents
Busuttil, Neil Edgar
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This study examined connections among basketball-related resilience, aggression and psychological risk status in a group of 117 8th grade and high school aged elite-level, inner-city male basketball players. It was expected that, compared to their peers, players with higher levels of basketball-related resilience (e.g., close relationships with players and coaches) would be less aggressive and have lower levels of psychological risk. Adolescents completed three instruments assessing their basketball-related resilience, aggressive tendencies, and their "at-risk" status (included community and more direct risks involving substance abuse, problematic friendships, etc.). In addition, adolescents provided information about the number and types of basketball teams they played on, as well as other demographic factors. Results revealed that adolescents who played for more basketball teams reported higher levels of basketball-related resilience. Contrary to expectations, however, intense levels of basketball participation were found to be associated with negative psychological outcomes. Those adolescents who played on more teams and who exhibited greater basketball-related resilience (including rating basketball as more important in their lives) had higher overall levels of risk. Specifically, they reported engaging in more antisocial behavior (e.g., theft and breaking-and-entering) and had more direct and indirect exposure to substance abuse than their peers. In addition, players who saw basketball as relatively more important were modestly more likely to rate themselves as being aggressive. Discussion focused on the role elite level participation in sports may play for high risk inner-city adolescents, and the importance of assessing causal rather correlational patterns in future research.