Research grant winners present at Society of Sport conference

November 10, 2019
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Sports and Society congratulates our research grant awardees for their presentations at 2019 North American Society of Sport conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia. 
 
Here are their abstracts:
 
Evan Davis
Analyzing the Great Sport Myth: Evidence from the NSASS
 
Per the Great Sport Myth (GSM), sport is inherently good and participation in sport inevitably leads to individual and community development (Coakley, 2015). While research supports various personal benefits through sport participation (Holt & Neely, 2010), issues such as gender inequalities (Burton, 2015), burnout (DiFiori et al., 2014), and identity foreclosures (Beamon, 2012) persist, leading to negative experiences for many. The pervasiveness of the GSM undermines sociological research in sport and stifles critical discussion around these issues (Coakley, 2015). Dominant social groups may be the main advocates for the GSM (Bourdieu, 1978; Coakley, 2015), yet there is little empirical evidence to support these claims. This study examines beliefs in the GSM using data collected from the National Sport and Society Survey (N = 3,992). Specifically, it describes patterns of beliefs in the GSM and analyzes if investments in sport (e.g., fandom, playing, watching), advantages in society (e.g., SES, dominant racial-ethnic group, maleness), and other attitudes (e.g., religious, political) predict belief in the GSM. This study provides further understanding of the GSM, which contributes to the continued colonization of sport. Debunking the GSM can help address persistent social issues in sport and assist in decolonization. 
 
Carter Rockhill and Chris Knoester
Sports and Non-sports based Racial-Ethnic Prejudice
 
A great deal of sociological research has focused on how social statuses, social classifications, and life experiences may lead to racial-ethnic stereotyping. Most of these studies focus on the misperceptions people have about race being genetically and biologically distinct (Outram et al., 2018). This study utilizes data gathered from the recently administered National Sports and Society Survey (N = 3,993) by the Sport and Society Initiative at The Ohio State University to analyze the different perceptions that individuals have about racial and ethnic minorities in America. We focus on non-sports perceptions of the reasons for the white-nonwhite achievement gap and on sports-based attitudes about black-white differences being genetically and biologically distinct, the inclusion of Muslim women with hijabs, and the use of Native American mascots and team names. Regression analyses focus on the roles of social networks, racial-ethnic integration experiences, education, age, and racial-ethnic identity in predicting these attitudes; we also consider the extent to which non-sports based attitudes predict sports-based attitudes. Overall, the research contributes to our understanding of racial-ethnic biases and the factors that predict them.
 
James Tompsett and Chris Knoester
The Making of a College Athlete: High school experiences, socioeconomic advantages, and the likelihood of playing college sports
 
Athletics have long been considered a key outlet for social mobility for lower class individuals and racial-ethnic minorities, with rags-to-riches stories held up as examples of achieving the American dream. The highly measured and results-oriented nature of sport theoretically allows disadvantaged participants to overcome discrimination through tangible performance benchmarks. This narrative leads to assumptions surrounding the demographics of college athletes among campuses and fan bases, sometimes to the detriment of athletes’ academic achievement and mental health. Drawing on the Education Longitudinal study (N = 12,048), I analyze factors predicting college sport participation, testing whether assumed social class differences in college athletics are indeed based in fact. Findings suggest that socioeconomic advantages for both individuals and school contexts are important predictors for participating in college athletics-- even after accounting for college readiness and athletic experience.  College athletics are yet another avenue that perpetuates inequality, despite narratives to the contrary. The outsized importance of revenue generating athletes, and the stereotypes attributed these students, is discussed as a mechanism for assumptions surrounding collegiate student-athletes.