Run, Jump, Play for a Better Day! An After School Program Using Team Sports and Social Identity Theory to Reduce Risky Behaviors

An intervention by: Patrick


The Problem

In today’s culture partaking in risky behaviors like using tobacco products, illegal drugs, stealing, fighting, as well as numerous other dangerous and illegal things have become the norm.  Risky behaviors have been portrayed as something cool to do by many of the role models that kids have today especially people in the entertainment business. A risky behavior can be defined as a decision or action that may result in a negative consequence for your self and or another person. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention ran a study in 2011 thought found some pretty staggering statistics involving adolescents and these risky behaviors. The CDC found that 44.7% of students nations wide have tried smoking cigarettes, 70.8% have had a glass of alcohol at least once, 39.9%

percent have tried marijuana, and 47.4% have had sex.  These numbers are staggering and these behaviors can lead to health problems, alcohol and drug dependency, pregnancy, and in some cases death. But how do we solve this growing problem?   


Some Previous Research May Help

Researchers found] that presenting this risky health behaviors, such as drinking, and eating junk food as things the avoidance/out-group does, the risky health behaviors decreased in the perceived in-group (Berger et al., 2008).  By creating a perceived negative group that someone could look at as being a group that they do not want to be a part of helped reduce the participation in those negative behaviors by that person.  This may be an effective way to reduce the participation in risky behaviors by adolescents today, but we need more.

Sports have also been found to be an effective way to help adolescents in development as well as in other very important ways. Researchers have compared the effectiveness of team and individual oriented sports and self-esteem later in life and found that children who spent more time in team sports reported higher self-concept, which related to higher self-esteem. Individual sports had an increase in self-concept compared to not sport children, but not as high as team sports (Slutsky et al. 2009)  So team sports is more effective in having positive effects on adolescents, we must use this research for the good of mankind.

So we are gonna use team sports and social identity theory, lets get a little more info on social identity theory.  Turner and Tajfel define social identity as a portion of an individual’s self-concept derived from perceived membership in a relevant social group (1979).  So by using team sports we are going to create a positive social group, where being healthy and avpoiding risky behaviors is the norm, and we will accomplish this using social identity theory.
The Solution: Run, Jump, Play for a Better Day!
An after school program designed for middle school students that uses team sports and social identity theory to decrease the amount of adolescents experimenting and taking part in risky behaviors.  By creating a positive in group, with the norm of not partaking in the risky behaviors.  This program will run the whole school year, and be active everyday after school.  Each month the students will play a different sport as well be mixed in to new teams and new team names.  Social identity theory will be introduced using slogans like “We are the Dragons and we don’t drink alcohol!” Will help to create these positive norms, as well as using team discussions with the coaches about healthy activities as well as competing at peak performance.  The program as well as the teams will create positive in-groups that will allow the students to see that not everyone is doing these risky behaviors and it is not normal to do these things.  the program will focus on the team and working together, not winning or athletic ability.
Coaches will be a very important part of the intervention, because they are the ones creating the positive in-groups as well as creating the slogans that will help change the norms of the students.  All of the coaches will be The American Sport Education Program certified, to make sure all the coaches have the proper information about coaching, as well as having similar coaching styles.  After the certification is done all of the coaches will all go through a 2 week training program that will explain the goals of the program, as well as how to effectively accomplish those goals.
The Measure: How will we know the intervention was effective?
A modified version of the Modified Version of the Adolescent Exploratory and Risk Behavior Rating Scale (Skaar, 2009), which measure the amount that an adolescent takes part in risky behaviors on a four point scale, one equaling never and four equaling often. The scale will be given to the parents and the children at the beginning of the intervention as well as the end to see if the score has decreased over the time period the intervention was in effect.
The Hypotheses
Using previous research to support my hypotheses,  I hypothesize that this intervention will be incredible successful at reducing adolescents in taking part in risky behaviors.
If there are any further questions feel free to contact me in the comment section.
•Berger, J., and Rand, L. (2008). Shifting signals to help health: Using identity signalling to Reduce Risky Health Behaviours. Journal of Consumer Research, 35, 509-518
•Eaton, D. (n.d.). Retrieved from website:
•Kelly, L. (2011). ‘Social inclusion’ through sports-based interventions?. Critical Social   Policy, 31(1), 126-150.
•Skaar, N.R. (2009).Development of the Adolescent Exploratory and Risk Behavior Rating Scale. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Minnesota, Minnesota
•Slutsky, C.B., & Simpkins S.D. (2009). The link between children’s sport participation and self-  esteem: Exploring the mediating role of sport self-concept. Psychology of Sport and  Exercise, 10(3), 381-389.
•Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. The social  psychology of intergroup relations, 33-47.

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