This paper challenges the popular argument that sport is an effective channel for upward mobility, especially for ethnic minorities. My study of retired professional soccer players in Israel establishes the following findings: First, members of the subordinate ethnic group are disadvantaged in attainment of status not only in schools and labor markets but also in and via sport. Second, a professional career in sport does not intervene between background variables and later occupational attainment. Third, both ethnicity and educational level are the most significant determinants of postretirement occupational attainment; higher education and higher ethnic status improve opportunities for later occupational success. On the basis of these findings it is suggested that the same rules of inequality that push individuals to seek alternative routes of mobility, such as professional sport, continue to operate in and beyond sport.
Paper presented at the American Sociological Association meeting, San Antonio, Texas, August 1984.
Work on this paper was made possible by a University of Haifa Research grant. The author wishes to acknowledge Nicholas Babchuk, James C. Creech, Harry Crockett, Bernard Lazerwitz, Hugh P. Whitt, and his students in the sport seminar for help and advice.
Direct all correspondence to Moshe Semyonov, Department of Sociology, University of Haifa, Mt. Carmel, Haifa, 31999, Israel.