Parents’ involvement patterns serve as a catalyst to their children’s moral development (Bandura, 1991). Yet, sport culture may convolute parents’ authentic ability to socialize their children’s moral development within a compliant structure focused on performance excellence (Hughes & Coakley, 1991). The purpose of the current study was to examine how parents conceptualize morality while entrenched in a conformity-driven elite youth ice hockey environment. The following research question was explored: how do parents ascribe meaning to, and learn the behavioral representations of, moral and immoral behaviors in youth ice hockey? Parents’ (N = 8, Mage = 53.13) perspectives of morality and immorality were explored within the culture of elite youth hockey through individual semi-structured interviews. A transcendental phenomenological approach was implemented to identify both textural and structural experiences parents used to derive their perceptions of morality and immorality in youth ice hockey (Creswell & Poth, 2018). Results exemplify how normative standards socialized through various dimensions of hockey culture obscured parents’ perceptions of morality and immorality through “relatively conscious” acceptance of socialized norms. Findings highlight the socialization processes that parents use to develop their conceptions of morality by overconforming to the normative standards valorized through the youth hockey sport ethic (Hughes & Coakley, 1991). The “relative consciousness” findings reflected how parents transformed their moral conceptions paralleled with youth hockey culture’s delineation of moral norms and values (Burry & Fiset, 2022; Hughes & Coakley, 1991).


morality, sport culture, parents, youth sport, phenomenology

Author Bio(s)

Zachary McCarver, Ph.D., was a Full-Time Adjunct instructor in the Kinesiology, Nutrition, and Dietetics department at the University of Northern Colorado. Dr. McCarver conceptualized this study and was primarily responsible for protocol development, data collection procedures, data analysis, and led writing the manuscript. Please address correspondence to zmccarver@gmail.com.

Danielle W. Vickland, Ph.D., is passionate about youth development through social and psychological aspects related to sport and physical activity. Dr. Vickland continues to educate parents and children about the Junior Lifeguard Program and teach courses in psychology and sociology of sport, exercise, and physical activity as an adjunct instructor. She contributed to the data collection, data analyses and writing the manuscript.

Dr. Megan Babkes Stellino is a Professor and Chair of the Social Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity program in the Department of KiND (Kinesiology, Nutrition and Dietetics) at the University of Northern Colorado. She is a recognized researcher who examines social influences, motivation and psychosocial factors within youth sport and physical activity contexts. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Mindful Sport Parenting, an evidence-based community of practice that provides resources and translated research to inform and transform the experience of parents whose children are involved in sports so all involved can thrive (www.mindfulsportparenting.com). Dr. Stellino mentored and contributed to the conceptualization and development of this study, data analyses, and writing of the manuscript. Please address correspondence to megan.stellino@unco.edu.


The authors would like to acknowledge the participants’ willingness to sacrifice their limited time to engage in the current research. This research would not have been possible without participants’ courage and capacity to share their experiences and perspectives to contribute to the current study. Additionally, the first two authors would like to graciously thank the third author for her time, contributions, and oversight of the current manuscript.

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