Methods: Participants included 3,549 students from four Midwestern middle schools and six high schools who completed self-report measures on sports involvement and SV perpetration. Surveys were administered across six time points from Spring 2008 to Spring 2013. Four categories of sports involvement were examined: no sports, no contact (e.g., swimming, biking, track/cross-country), some contact (e.g., volleyball, softball, baseball), and high contact (e.g., basketball, football, wrestling). A series of logistic regression models were run, with the full sample and stratified by biological sex, predicting the odds of engaging in SV in high school.
Results: Results indicated that, compared to youth who reported no sports involvement in middle school, youth involved in some contact sports or high contact sports had a 79% (AOR = 1.79, 95% CI [1.25, 2.55]) and 39% (AOR = 1.39, 95% CI [1.01, 1.93]) increased odds of high school SV perpetration, respectively. In addition, female students who were involved in some contact sports were 160% (AOR = 2.60, 95% CI [1.61, 4.18) more likely to be SV perpetrators than female students reporting no sports involvement. For males, compared to those who reported no sports involvement, males who were involved in high contact sports had a 72% (AOR = 1.72 95% CI [1.12, 2.63) increase in the odds of high school SV perpetration.
Conclusions: The findings suggest SV prevention efforts should start in middle school and include both male and female contact sport athletes and others who have influence over them (e.g., coaches, parents) in a comprehensive approach.