This paper strives to provide an insight into the multifaceted relationships that young people have, examining the social, cultural and institutional discourses, which shape their lives. We set out to discuss, from an empirical poststructuralist perspective, the way in which Irish adolescents write about the reality of their lives and privilege certain practices and forms of subjectivity. We are particularly interested in the role and significance of physical activity in the lives of young people, asking what institutional and cultural discourses are brought into play to construct particular identities and social practices associated with leisure and sporting interests. This paper focuses on a purposeful sample of 168 written narratives of Irish post-primary students (14-17 years of age), chosen to represent the gender of students, a range of rural and urban school locales from different geographic locations and single sex and co-educational schools. We focus on the inter-relationships between (1) family and friends; (2) community-localism and tradition; (3) commodification and globalisation; (4) popular culture; and (5) gendered patterns of leisure and sporting interests. The family is a strong focal point for these young people as are their friends and being part of a community. The young people (boys in particular) are significant consumers of 'media sport' and both girls and boys were knowledgeable of national and international politics. We also comment on the extent to which female and male adolescents negotiate, similarly or differently, culturally dominant discourses within physical activity and sport, with significantly more boys choosing to write about physical activity and sport in their narratives.