Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs of Parents of Youth Basketball Players Regarding Sport Specialization and College Scholarship Availability

Eric G. Post, Michael D. Rosenthal, Hayley J. Root, Mitchell J. Rauh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Previous surveys of youth sport parents have revealed that while parents believe early sport specialization is beneficial for improving sport ability, they also overestimate their child’s chances of receiving a college scholarship. Purpose: To (1) describe knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of parents of youth basketball players regarding sport specialization and college scholarships and (2) examine potential differences in child basketball participation characteristics based on parent income. Study Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: A total of 805 parents (mean age, 39.9 ± 7.1 years; 353 female [43.9%]) of youth basketball players (mean age, 12.9 ± 2.5 years; 241 female [29.9%]) were recruited via Qualtrics Online Panels to complete an anonymous online questionnaire. Participants were required to be a parent of a child between 8 and 18 years of age who participated in organized youth basketball (ie, school, club, or recreational/local league). Participants were recruited to be nationally representative with regard to race/ethnicity (White, 62.7%; Hispanic/Latino of any race, 15.3%; African American/Black, 13.3%; Asian, 4.6%; ≥2 races, 2.9%; American Indian/Alaskan Native, 1.1%; Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander, 0.1%). The questionnaire was adapted from previous research on parent knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs and consisted of 3 sections: (1) parent and child characteristics; (2) child basketball participation information (months per year of basketball participation, sport specialization status, receiving private coaching, traveling regularly for basketball competitions, participating on multiple teams at the same time); and (3) parent attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge regarding sport specialization and college basketball scholarships. Results: Most parents believed specialization increased their child’s chances of making a high school (71.4%) or college team (69.7%). Parents underestimated the availability of college basketball scholarships at the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division I and II levels (8.9 ± 5.1 vs reality of 13-15 per team) but overestimated availability at the Division III level (8.6 ± 5.7 vs reality of 0 per team). High-income parents spent significantly more money ($4748 USD [$1214-$10,246]) than middle-income ($2250 USD [$727-$5079]; P <.001) and low-income ($1043 USD [$368-$2444]; P <.001) parents. Conclusion: Parents believed specialization was important for sport success, but they underestimated college scholarship availability at the NCAA Division I and II levels while overestimating scholarship availability at the Division III level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021


  • basketball
  • injury prevention
  • overuse injury
  • socioeconomic status
  • youth sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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