Graduate School of Business


Master of Science in Sport Management (MS)


Kevin C. Heisey


pay-to-play, opportunity, athletic achievement, parental motivation, youth soccer


Sports Management | Sports Studies


In the last twenty years, the youth sport experience in the United States has been shaped by a family’s ability to pay. Under the pay-to-play model in American youth sports, advancing to the highest levels of the game not only requires the standard expenditures, but significant investment which accounts for coaching, equipment, travel, training, and other resources. Previous research on the topic has analyzed the impact of income, educational attainment, and race and ethnicity on access to elite-level sports opportunities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the pay-to-play model and factors associated with athletic outcomes at three youth soccer clubs in southern New Jersey. Additionally, the present research conceptualizes parental motivation at these soccer clubs in relation to a child’s participation and advancement in youth soccer. Multiple linear regression models were used to determine whether there was a significant relationship between athletic opportunity, athletic achievement and parental motivation and a parent’s race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and educational attainment levels. For athletic opportunity, the data showed that there was no statistical significance in relation to race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or educational attainment. Similarly, no statistically significant findings were present for athletic achievement. For parental motivation, findings indicated that Black or African American parents were 57% more likely to have higher levels of motivation for their child’s participation in club soccer. Motivation was also shaped by parental income.