Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University

Research on Youth Sport by Michela Musto, PhD in Sociology

Is sport good for kids? Michela Musto’s previous research answers this question by examining girls’ and boys’ experiences in organized sport.

Youth Sports

This project, published in Gender & Society, draws upon nine months of ethnographic research and fifteen semistructured interviews conducted with eight- to ten-year-old swimmers on a co-ed youth swim team. I outline the conditions under which children undermined cultural beliefs in inherent male athletic superiority and theorize how less oppressive gender relations can “spill over” from one context to the next.

Athletes in the Pool, Girls & Boys on Deck

Huge numbers of children participate in sports, but youth sports are rarely seen - much less systematically studied - by sociologists. A co-authored publication, published in Sociology of Sport Journal, draws attention to the dearth of scholarly research on children and sport. This article also outlines a research agenda for future studies, focusing on key questions about children and youth, bodies and health, and intersectional analyses of social inequality.

Where are the Kids?

Child's Play

Is sport good for kids? When answering this question, both critics and advocates of youth sports tend to fixate on matters of health, whether condemning contact sports for their concussion risk or prescribing athletics as a cure for the childhood obesity epidemic.

Child’s Play - a co-edited volume published with Rutgers University Press - examines how sports shape youth's  identities across lines of race, class, and gender. These essays offer a wide range of approaches to understanding the sociology of youth sports, including data-driven analyses that examine national trends and ethnographic research that gives a voice to individual kids. Child’s Play thus presents a comprehensive and compelling analysis of how, for better and for worse, the culture of sports is integral to the development of young people - and with them, the future of our society.