The Odds of Transiting from One Level of Sports Participation to Another

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Wilbert M. LeonardIllinois State University

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The present study contributes to, updates, and extends the literature on sport and social mobility by reconceptualizing and reoperationalizing the odds of attaining college and professional athlete status. Using 1990 U.S. census data and team rosters, rates for achieving college and professional sports “careers” were computed for men and women of color in the most popular U.S. sports. A methodological contribution of this research is that the norming variables employed in the statistical calculations were refined, that is, they were age, race/ethnicity, sport, and sex specific. This inquiry contains the most systematic, extensive, and refined measures for assessing the likelihood of achieving the ultimate in sport upward social mobility—major league professional athlete status. A discussion of why the odds of obtaining professional athlete status vary is explored along with some of the conceptual and operational issues created by the concept Hispanic.

Wilbert M. Leonard, II is with the Department of Sociology at Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790.

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