The Relationship Between Unsupervised Leisure and Substance Use Among Skateboarders

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 2 (Convention Center)
Judith A. Johns, State University of New York–Cortland, Cortland, NY

Background/Purpose To date, little research has examined the developmental outcomes associated with youth participation in alternative sports. The individual level routine activity theory (Osgood et al, 1996) posits that activities that combine: (a) socializing with peers, (b) freedom from adult supervision, and (c) a lack of structure provide an environment uniquely conducive for problem behavior including substance use. The unstructured, participant-initiated sport of skateboarding typifies such an activity context. The purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship between skateboarding and substance use among a cohort of adolescent male skateboarders residing in two metropolitan regions in the Eastern United States.

Method Following a location-based intercept protocol, a purposive sample of 124 male skateboarders in grades 9–12 was recruited from 14 skateparks. Data were collected using a self-administered, 45-item instrument. Objective measures of skateboarding involvement included time spent skating, primary skating location, and skating with peers. Subjective measures assessed leisure identity and enduring involvement in skateboarding. Current alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use data were collected and analyzed as dichotomous variables (used/has not used).

Analysis/Results Using chi square tests, no significant relationship was found to exist between any of the five measures of skateboarding involvement and current alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana use. Furthermore, generalized linear modeling revealed that spending more or less time skating did not interact with the relationship between skateboarding involvement and substance use.

Conclusions These findings do not support the supposition that involvement in skateboarding was associated with substance use, as the theoretical and evidentiary literature suggests.