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Adolescence. 1992 Summer;27(106):295-308.

Educational effects of interscholastic athletic participation on African-American and Hispanic youth.

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  • 1Department of Physical Education and Sport, State University of New York, College at Brockport 14420.


This study examined the educational effects of interscholastic athletic participation on a national, stratified, probability sample of African-American and Hispanic boys and girls drawn from the High School and Beyond Study (U.S. Department of Education, 1987). This two-year longitudinal analysis was based on questionnaire data from 3,686 minority youth who were sophomores in 1980 and seniors in 1982. The independent variable was athletic participation, and the dependent variables included senior year popularity, extracurricular involvement, grades, achievement test performance, dropout rates, and educational expectations. The control variables were socioeconomic status, school location, and sophomore measures of the dependent variables. In general, athletic participation enhanced popularity and contributed to greater involvement in extracurricular activities. Sports participation was generally unrelated to grades and standardized test scores. Depending on school location (i.e., urban, suburban, rural), athletic participation was significantly related to lower dropout rates for some minority youth. High school athletic participation was unrelated to educational expectations in the senior year. These findings show that high school athletic participation was a social resource for many minority youth, but only a modest academic resource for others. Equally clear, however, is the fact that not all racial or ethnic groups reap the same benefits from sport. More importantly, these findings strongly suggest that high school sport should only be considered one of many institutional forces converging in the lives of American minority youth. To assign sport more significance than these findings call for is to run the risk of oversimplifying and trivializing the very complex psychosocial processes which attend high school athletic participation.

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