Alternative high school (AHS) students engage in high levels of substance use and risky sexual behaviors. Sports team participation holds great potential for building resilience and preventing health-risk behaviors. Yet, little is known about sports team participation among this population. We used logistic regression-based path analytic frameworks (multiple mediator models) to simultaneously explore whether measures of social connectedness (i.e., connectedness to friends, adults, and school) and emotional distress mediated relationships between sports team participation and substance use/sexual risk-taking behaviors among AHS students in Minnesota. School connectedness and adult connectedness contributed to protective associations between sports team participation and most outcomes whereas friend connectedness had opposite effects, possibly diminishing overall associations. Emotional distress did not mediate associations. We conclude by discussing implications for future sport-related research and intervention with AHS students.
Find the article here.