Leveling the Playing Field: An Ethnographic Study of Soccer Leagues in Las Vegas


This study examines how youth sports privatization, family dynamics, coaching, and team organization affect Latinx youth’s opportunities and interests in playing competitive soccer. I draw upon my three-year ethnographic study of Latinx youth who play soccer in Las Vegas, Nevada. My main goal is to understand their hopes, experiences, and family expectations in a context in which costs for sports participation are rising, while Latinx youth participation has declined. This dynamic raises questions about how intersecting oppressions related to race, class, and gender are expressed and experienced in youth sport and how cultural ideals for inclusion and advancement through sport are nullified for many. My research questions include: 1) How do Latinx youth ages 12-19 make sense of their soccer participation? 2) What barriers do they perceive in their soccer participation and how do these experiences differ across gender, class, and other social factors? 3) Why do parents want their child to participate in soccer and how do these families manage this extracurricular sport activity in terms of time and resources? 4) What do coaches believe are the reasons for and outcome of youth soccer participation? 5) How do youth soccer organizations’ mission, organization, and practices shape youth sport experiences? I seek to center the voices of those who have been most influenced by the growing costs and other barriers to soccer participation to offer a corrective to youth sport research which has highlighted white male youth much more than Latinx and other non-white youth experiences.


Jeannette Hernández
Doctoral student, Sociology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—The Impact of Professional Sport on Community


Sociology, Sport, Youth, Race/Ethnicity

Digital Media

This presenter hasn’t added media.
Request media and follow this presentation.