Lautner, Shelby Carolina (2020-10). Understanding Community Stakeholder Perceptions of a School Sports Participation Policy: A Case Study. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Participation in school sports can provide many benefits for students. However, financial strain among school districts and mitigating strategies like the implementation of pay to participate policies, which incur a fee to students to enroll in a sport, have created systems in which participation in school sports is not equally accessible for all students. Across the United States, there are no guidelines for the structure of pay to participate polices, therefore, decisions are left to individual school boards at the community level. The implementation of pay to participate polices is a complex issue that exacerbates health disparities in many communities as it limits access to physical activity. This case study used a mixed methods design to explore elements related to school sports participation, as well as how these phenomena interact with a pay to participate policy. The study used community-based group modeling as a strategy for community based participatory research. This method allowed the researcher to work with community members to understand the complex problem and build systems thinking skills. Findings from this study explain how pay to participate policy can lead to health inequities among students. Recommendations explore how causal loop diagrams and anecdotal evidence can inform potential interventions that make school sports more accessible.

publication date

  • October 2020