Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Nicole Zarrett


Sports is the most commonly participated in extracurricular activity during adolescence. Aligned with the Positive Youth Development theoretical framework, previous research has shown that sports participation offers youth a context rich in resources found to promote positive adjustment into adulthood. However, around one third of the youth participating in sports drop out each year, and little research has examined the impact of sports dropout on indicators of youth adjustment. This study examines the relation between sports dropout and academic achievement, self-esteem, depression, perceived school climate, perceived support from adults in school, and alcohol use. The moderating effect of sports engagement (e.g., value, importance) was also tested. A longitudinal sample (7th through 11th grades) of 340 youth (55.00% male, 66.80% African American) of the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study who met sports dropout criteria across three waves of data collection were included in our study. A two-group path analysis model found a good model fit (RMSEA=.00, 95% CI [.00, .06]; CFI=1.00; TLI=1.03; χ2 (18, N=348) =16.45, p=.56). Separate analyses comparing youth with continuous sports participation and those who dropped out of sports was non-significant for all indicators of adolescent adjustment, and sports engagement did not moderate the relation between sports dropout and any of the indicators of adolescent functioning. Despite non-significant findings, the current study reveals many challenges with examining sports dropout and emphasizes the need to prevent sports dropout in youth through targeted strategies such as increasing the value and participation in multiple types of extracurricular activities and increasing the value and access for alternative community sports contexts.