An Investigation of Campus Stereotypes: The Myth of Black Athletic Superiority and the Dumb Jock Stereotype

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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This investigation examined the beliefs of college students regarding specific stereotypes about African American athletes and about college student-athletes. Beliefs about intelligence, academic integrity, and academic competitiveness among male college student-athletes, as well as assumptions about intelligence, academic preparation, style of play, competitiveness, physical superiority, athletic ability, and mental temperament in African American athletes, were investigated. A fixed alternative questionnaire was administered to 869 graduate and undergraduate students. The findings indicate that white and male students believe that athletes are not as intelligent as the typical college student and that they take easy courses to maintain their eligibility and that African American athletes are not academically prepared to attend college, are not as intelligent and do not receive as high grades as white athletes, and are generally temperamental. African American and female students believe that African American athletes are more competitive and have a different playing style than white athletes.

Gary A. Sailes is with the Department of Kinesiology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405.

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