New Teen Report Offers Insight

A unique new study called The Teen Reporter, Boys In Alternative Sports offers one of the best insights into the lives and minds of male teenagers across the United States.

The survey was sponsored by Transworld Media, parent company of SNOWboarding Business.

The two principles spearheading the study, John Winsor and Daemon Filson, have formed Radar Communications to produce the reports. They had previously run Sports & Fitness Publishing and such magazines as Rocky Mountain Sports, Women's Sports & Fitness, InLine, Box, Gravity, and several other titles.

Their editorial background gives this study a different perspective from other profiles on the action-sports demographic. Winsor and Filson set out with no conclusions in mind. Rather they were looking for more unfiltered autobiographical responses from their survey participants.

The Teen Reporter offers qualitative consumer research, patterned after what the group first did in 1996 with a groundbreaking study of high school female athletes.

The report studies the lives of 60 male teens who participate in alternative sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing, and BMX biking. In a unique process, the teens from six cities were not only interviewed, but also made a part of the process by having them interviewing their peers.

The initial report is broken into six different sections: Lifestyle and Community, Personal Identity, Outside Influences, and Things We Learned. The different sections explore why the teens participate in the sports they do, where they hang out and why, who they get along with and who they don't, their family and other relationships, who they see as role models, how they spend their money, and what's cool and what isn't.

Each section also has art and collages that the teens made during the sessions. At the end of each section are the actual unedited answers the interviewees gave to many of the different questions.

Some of the conclusions of the report are not surprising, while some are quite illuminating. The boys participate in alternative sports to develop their own identity; their lives center around the specialty shops they hang out at; and girls are confusing to them. But surprisingly, they still look for role models either in their own families or a pro athlete in their sport. They value authenticity as a key criterion for coolness, and they don't surf the Internet much, although they have access to it.–John Stouffer