Weiss, M. R., Smith, A. L., & Theeboom, M. (1996). "That's what friends are for": Children's and teenagers' perceptions of peer relationships in the sport domain. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 18, 347-379.

Children's and teenagers' conceptions of friendship within the sports domain were examined.

Current and former sports program participants (N = 38; aged 8-16 yrs) took part in an interview that concerned their best friend in sports. An inductive content analysis revealed the existence of 12 positive friendship dimensions: companionship, pleasant play/association, self-esteem enhancement, help and guidance, prosocial behavior, intimacy, loyalty, things in common, attractive personal qualities, emotional support, absence of conflicts, and conflict resolution. Four negative friendship dimensions were extracted: conflict, unattractive personal qualities, betrayal, and inaccessibility. These conceptions of friendship were both similar and unique to friendship conceptions found in mainstream developmental research.

Although the number of Ss in this study was small and of mixed gender, the findings are what one would expect from the general gist of understanding about relationships between young people.

Implication. Characteristics of young people that foster or thwart good friendships have been described. These factors could be used to establish behavioral expectations for athlete-to-athlete associations in the sport setting. Desirable behavior classes are:

Undesirable characteristics are the antitheses of most of these behavioral characteristics.

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