The Influence of the Family in the Development of Talent in Sport

Review by: William A. Harper
By Jean Cote

The Big Idea

Early in the 21st Century support for children of families with a parent who was deployed in the United States Military was identified with the slogan “We Serve Too.”  The big idea of this research paper on families of elite athletes by Jean Cote could easily be captured by the same slogan—only in this case it is the families of deployed athletes Who Serve Too.  Families are often forgotten as having significant influence on the social context of developing athletes.

Cote conducted in-depth interviews with four families, and a combined total of 15 family members (the athletes, siblings, and parents).  The athletes were all at the junior national level.   Three types of constraints were used as the framework for the open-ended interviews: motivational, effort, and resources.  And three progressive stages of family development were identified—all of which resulted from events and family conditions that may have had impact on the young athlete’s participation and achievement in sport.