Physical activity: a family affair
Physical activity: a family affair

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Physical activity: a family affair

2 Socialisation into sport and physical activity

In an academic review of developing participation, Sports Coach UK states that ‘with the family identified as the first point of socialisation into sport (and ultimately into society) it is clear this is a key and underpinning aspect to the entire sport experience of young people’ (Bailey et al., 2010, p. 79).

There are many factors that contribute to when, if, and how a family socialises children into sport and physical activity, such as the amount of family time available to spend together, socio-economic status, parental interest in sport and physical activity, and the family structure. We will discuss some of these factors in more detail later in the course, however the overarching principle indicated by the Sports Coach UK Review is that ‘those who have family members involved in sport are more likely to be involved themselves’ (Bailey et al., 2010, p. 79).

Activity 1 Pinsent talks family

Allow about 20 minutes

Watch the video clip of Matthew Pinsent discussing his family. What role did Matthew’s family play in his introduction to sport and exercise? How do your experiences compare to Matthew’s? For example, consider the amount of time spent together as a family, socio-economic status, parental interest in their own and the children’s sporting activities. You may also consider the family structure or your own position in the family.

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Transcript: Matthew Pinsent on family influences

MATTHEW PINSENT
I was the youngest of three. I had two older sisters who were nothing but lovely to me. I don't want to say they beat me up or anything. And I think part of my ingredients was wanting to catch up with them when I was growing up. So playing their games and joining in with them and keeping up with them speed wise. Or, whatever it might have been, I think I developed physically a bit sooner than I might have done.
And my parents were always there as both a support to my chosen sport-- whether it was driving me around occasionally or paying for stuff. Junior sports is expensive. But also my parents, I think, had the influence on me that I was quite respectful of the sport and my opposition and my teammates and all that. And that was more important as I went higher up, never to forget. I shouldn't be saying things that my mum would be ashamed about or whatever. That was always quite a good barometer of what was good or bad.
My parents were not sporty at all. My dad would play the occasional game of squash. My mum-- hard to think of my mum in a sporting environment at all, really. Perfectly active, but not sporty. I don't think she owns a bit of sports kit.
I think they encouraged me to try things that I could be good at and didn't judge me for the sacrifices that it would make. Even though it was obviously impacting on my future career choices, they never once said, don't be doing that. That's a bad thing to do. Or it's too risky or whatever.

Matthew Pinsent video and transcript © The Open University

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Discussion

Matthew Pinsent describes neither of his parents as being sporty, other than his dad playing ‘the occasional game of squash’. However, he does describe them as always being physically active and encouraging an active lifestyle. The support described by Matthew is both material (parents drive him round, pay for kit) and attitudinal (they support his decisions and encourage him to be active). Matthew also felt that being the youngest of three siblings impacted on his physical condition (early development). The combination of all these factors contributed to his positive disposition to sport. You may have related some of these to your own situation.

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