This study examined the role of athletic participation in affecting educational aspirations of disadvantaged youth, namely, those students for whom traditional opportunities for developing educational motivations have been restrictive. Using Coleman's leading crowd theory, it was hypothesized that disadvantaged students who were members of the interscholastic sports program would be exposed to a positive peer-group influence unavailable to their nonathletic counterparts. A national representative sample of 1,799 male high school seniors from the Youth in Transition project were used. Disadvantaged youth were defined in terms of social background and school attitudinal/behavioral factors. An interaction-regression modeling strategy for educational aspirations indicated that the interaction models did not significantly contribute to the explanation of educational aspirations. These findings resulted in the conclusion that sport participation's impact on educational aspirations was not greater for disadvantaged youth. It was suggested that the incorporation of social and psychological factors of socialization into more complex sport models is necessary in order to assess the true impact of sport participation on educational concerns.
The data utilized in this analysis were made available by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research. The data for the Youth in Transition Study were originally collected by Jerald G. Bachman under a grant from the Office of Education (Contract #OE-5-85-054). Neither the original collector of the data nor the Consortium bear any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here. Reprint requests should be sent to Mary A. McElroy, Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.