Media & Communication

Nick Preneta
Social Identities in Urban Youth Sports

Sports have been viewed for over one hundred years as an activity that promotes good morals, better health, a sense of community, and good character in the lives of America's youth. Through my research at Just For Kids (JFK), an after-school program in Allentown, I discovered that sports play another, quite different role in youths' lives. As a volunteer in the basketball area for three semesters, I found that important social identities are created everyday in these spaces dedicated to sports. Whether it is through display of talent, aggression, effort, or individual ball-handling skills, they strive for respect and acknowledgment from their peers. Once these identities are created, they will also go to great lengths to make sure these identities remain intact. Through interviews, historical research, and extensive documentation of my experiences at JFK, I discovered these two differing, yet valid, perceptions of sport.