In this paper we conducted a qualitative analysis of twenty-eight semi-structured interviews of college students. Interviewees were asked about their high school experiences with sports in order to discover the main factors leading to positive or negative experiences. We found that the influence of family and friends and the opportunity to participate in a competitive activity were the two most important positive aspects of students’ high school sports experiences. The most prevalent negative aspect of high school sports participation was a problematic experience with a coach. While both friends and family influenced students’ decisions to initiate and maintain participation in sports while in high school, family influence was much stronger than the influence of friends. Given the need to expand physical fitness on a national and global level, greater understanding of the factors impacting sports participation will be useful to a wide range of stakeholders, including students, teachers and educational institutions, and policy makers.
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