The Kid and “Mr. and Mr. and Mrs. Sideline Parent”: A Rhetorical Cluster Analysis of Youth Sport Participation Discourse




Carlson, Jason E.

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There are serious problems in the world of youth sports, with the “finger of blame” pointed squarely at adults for spoiling the fun. Unruly parent behavior and violent confrontations at youth sporting events have become increasingly frequent. Consequently, these behaviors have damaged parents’ relationships with coaches, officials, spectators, other parents and even their own children (Ford, Jubenville, & Phillips, 2012). With factors like intense training schedules, the pressure to win and be the best, and painful injuries, it is not surprising that some athletes simply burn out on their sport. But what is shocking to many who study youth sport are the young ages at which this happens, sometimes as early as 9 or 10 (Stenson, 2004). Using elements of rhetorical cluster criticism (Foss, 1996), I examine recurring themes found in the youth sport literature. Specifically, two major themes are posited—violence in youth sports; and the genuine lack of “fun” associated with sport. Key terms are identified as are associated clusters, and a comparison and discussion of the discovered clusters is offered. Findings showed how the language throughout the selected youth sport literature reinforced recurring concepts regarding violence in sport and lack of fun. In both cases, key terms and related words and phrases reiterated the frequency and intensity of identified themes.



Violence in sport, Rhetorical cluster analysis, Lack of fun, Youth sport participation, Sideline rage