Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Human Movement Sciences

Committee Director

Lynn L. Ridinger

Committee Member

Shana Pribesh

Committee Member

Stephen S. Shapiro

Committee Member

Xihe Zhu

Abstract

An increasing number of running events are being targeted to youth and are adding to the growing road racing industry. Offering running events for children along with a lineup of races ranging from 5K runs to marathons for adults is a way for race organizers to expand their businesses, increase economic impact in their communities and meet the needs of the entire family. In addition to economic benefits, there are other benefits associated with running events for youth. Community running events provide one potential intervention to counter rising childhood obesity rates by increasing the levels of physical activity for youth.

Parents are seen as important agents in the socialization processes that shape and influence youth physical activity decisions. Most sport participation decisions for youth are ultimately made by parents and because parents play a crucial role in the consumer decisions and activity choices of their children, this study focused on an investigation of parental factors influencing participation of children in youth running events. The purpose of this study was to examine parental involvement, satisfaction and behavioral intentions associated with a youth running event. Specifically, this study sought to determine if the level of parental involvement and satisfaction with a youth running event predicted behavioral intentions for their child’s future participation in running events. Additionally, the effects of parent gender and parent running status were explored.

A sample of 366 parents of children who participated in a prominent children’s community running event was used to investigate the influence of parental involvement and satisfaction on behavioral intentions for their child to participate in future running events. The measurement scale for involvement included both an affective and a cognitive subscale. Using multiple linear regression to analyze the data, the overall model was found to be significant (F(3, 326) = 41.733, p < .001), explaining 28% of the variance in behavioral intentions. Results indicated positive relationships between all independent variables (i.e., affective involvement, cognitive involvement and satisfaction) and the dependent variable of behavioral intentions. When comparing the model by gender, parental involvement and satisfaction were significant for female respondents whereas only satisfaction was significant for male respondents. When comparing the model by runner status, parental involvement and satisfaction were significant for parents who were runners; however, satisfaction was the only variable significant for parents who were non-runners. In all of the models, satisfaction was the strongest predictor of behavioral intentions. Based on these results, it is recommended that road race organizers market youth events to parents, particularly mothers. Marketing efforts should focus on ensuring parental satisfaction and include elements to make the event seem relevant and exciting to increase parental involvement and subsequent participation of children in future running events.

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