Program theory of sport-related intervention : a multiple case study of sport-related youth violence prevention programs



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The present study examines the utility of sport as a tool of social intervention programs. The central objective of this study is to find a systematic and theoretical way to design, implement, and evaluate sport-related violence intervention programs. Since little research is available for this investigation, this study attempts to evaluate a type of sportrelated violence prevention programs and, as a result of the evaluation, it derives normative ways to improve sport-related social intervention programs and explanatory ways to enhance sport-related violence intervention programs. Guided by Lipsey’s (1983) theory-driven approach and Eisenhardt’s (1989) theory building process, this study identifies common patterns existing in each stage and in the entire process of the 2 most successful Teacher-Student-Together programs. These common patterns are further examined by comparison to those of the 2 least successful Teacher-Student-Together programs. The results of this study indicate that not all sport-related intervention activities are effective at preventing at-risk youths from involvement in violent behaviors. The most successful sport-related violence prevention programs had more structured and stronger intensity, treated more risk factors, combined one type of program activities (e.g., sport) with others (e.g., education and other experiences) synergistically, and generated more mediating variables and outcomes. With regard to the use of sport in sport-related violence prevention programs, this study suggests that sport could be effectively manipulated to reduce constraints (e.g., reduce labeling), develop a positive sense of self (e.g., as a medium for providing a social setting to empower at-risk youths), develop positive social relationships (e.g., as a medium for bringing various school stakeholders into the activities), improve social skills (e.g., by providing a natural social space to learn and acquire positive social skills), and create new, positive group norms and identity (e.g., by providing alternatives for antisocial group norms and identity). Overall, this study suggests that sport as an element of multiple-services programs could be effectively and efficiently combined with other activities to generate the salient attributes necessary to affect the identified risk and protective factors. The present study contributes to future sport-related intervention research and practices. The method used here would be useful to design, implement, and evaluate the increasing number of sport-related intervention programs, showing the application of theory- and evidence-based approaches to sport-related intervention. More specifically, this study contributes to reducing at-risk youth violence in school contexts by explaining when and how we can utilize sport as a valuable, powerful vehicle for youth violence prevention.